I came across VIRemote from ThrowLab last night.
Works pretty well . It looks like essentially a specialized VNC server with some iPhone "hooks".
1. You can get Accelerometer data from the iphone to your VI
2. You can detect the orientation of the iPhone (portrait or landscape)
3. When changing the value of a combo box it appears as a native iPhone control.
4. VIs are simple and easy to use.
Looks like this came out last December. $20 is the asking price.
For my application I have a series of legacy instruments (geophysical instruments deployed at field sites) that communicate via RS232. We use LV VIs to provide a GUI via either direct serial link or, for remote instruments, via telnet services (by using a Raven-X modem to bridge between RS-232 and TCP/IP). We use Wintel netbooks to control the instruments via serial or network port. We wish to move over to iphone OS as the client for the VI. We don't have the capacity to use embedded LV and then use LV web services to display on the iphone OS client; rather LV needs to run native on the client (either iphone or iTablet/iSlate). This platform is becoming ubiquitous. I appreciate there are issues related to how tightly locked down iphone OS is with regard to running arbitrary VIs. Could it not be possible to implement the LV core with a select number of other services - e.g. comms over network and USB? I'd appreciate it if NI would put some energy into finding a solution to running LV native under iphone OS.
This is not going to happen with current Apple policy. Apple does not allow applications that "interpret" code to be installed on the iPhone. Although NI could make an iPhone compiler to make LV apps native, users would have to either have an SDK iPhone or submit their app to the Apple AppStore and wait for it to be approved. Apple (currently) will not allow a LabVIEW App that executes user VIs. Same reason why they don't allow Adobe Flash on the iPhone.
While I, as an iPod owner, and avid (rabid?) LabVIEW programmer would love to try developing on my "touch" I'm not sure what you mean by "but even absent that it is not an insurmountable barrier to require an iphone OS SDK as part of the requirement". Requirement to whom? To National Instruments? The limitation, as I understand it, is Apple's policy, not National Instruments. If they did develop an SDK, which to run LabVIEW would probably require more information about the inner workings of the OS than Apple probably provides to "standard App" developers, which, under the current circumstances would be unlikely for Apple to provide. It is insurmountable if Apple won't "play" and they have a history of not playing well with others. Sure NI could develop it (knowing the past history of some OS projects, like Linux "No we are not, nor plan to ever, have a Linux development package", One week later "oops, I was misled, it will be announced in a week" I wouldn't be surprised if some of the uber-geeks are already playing with it) but at the moment I'm pretty sure you would have to "jailbreak" it to install the LabVIEW, then you would have an unwaranteed unit. Does Apple get any benefit from LabVIEW running on their hardware? Probably very little from their marketing point of view. They are selling a bazillion units already, a bazillion +100, particularly if that 100 brings with it the headaches of security concerns (a virus written in LabVIEW, oh the horror!), support (hey, who you going to call when you iPhone nuclear reactor controller goes wacky?), etc. I don't know how many apps have been/are being written for the Win embedded devices, but I don't see too many questions on the forums.
As I said, it would be cool to be able to control, natively, some process from my "Touch", but I'm not holding my breath for the Apple/NI alliance to move into that arena.
The idea of using an iphone SDK to enable running a native LV VI on iphone/ipad isn't so crazy; the audience for developing apps for these purposes is, at the end of the day, developers. For instance, while I may be a scientist in an academic institution, I do have an iphone SDK and it is not a hard thing to get set up to do. This would be an excellent thing for LV to do - set up a compiler for iphone with the understanding about the restrictions this involves. That would definitely work for me, and I would then start buying ipads with considerable enthusiasm!
Although I am sure that would be awesome for you and other people with SDK iPhones and LabVIEW enthusiasm, I think that it is a relatively small market and probably not worth it to NI to pursue. If you need a small, portable, LabVIEW code executor then there is the Windows Mobile platform (that the PDA Module targets). In the grand scheme of things, LabVIEW and PDA Modules cost LOTS of $$$$. Small portable hardware is fairly cheep in comparison. If you need it, its already available.
The market share argument is certainly a valid one - it is hard to predict the size of potential market and developer base. The point is good. Ultimately this is a business decision.
The URL http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/02/05/one_in_five_physicians_likely_to_purchase_apple_ipad_s... might provide some insights into the potential ubiquity of the iphone OS platform. Let's take it as a given that iphone/ipad will be pretty much everywhere. It seems to be already. So how many iphone/ipad developers are there? The last reference I found this this is about a year old, when more than 100,000 developers had registered to download the iphone OS SDK. Is the current number a quarter million? It's hard to say, but one can take it as large regardless. Wikipedia today indicated that as of mid-January this year there were at least 133,979 third-party applications available on the App Store, with over 3 billion total downloads. So, ubiquitous device, vast developer pool, cheap SDK, multitouch interface, large market penetration, inexpensive to buy too, 3G+WiFI. Hmmm.
So that's the up side. Down sides are plenty - in essence one must live within the restrictive terms dictated by Apple, and also somehow adapt LV to live in a modest memory space. There are many compromises and also no guarantee that Apple would approve an app for the App Store even if the "interpreted language" issue could be resolved. There is definitely risk to NI in spending resources on something that could potentially go nowhere. Perhaps NI's financial position won't allow development on a new platform at this time. There are all sorts of factors to consider.
On the flip side however is that LV's approach for the mobile sphere requires one to buy in a legacy system like WinCE/PocketPC to adapt to LV's limitations. This might be sustainable for a little while longer however distasteful going back to that platform may be. Having said that, in such a down economy I don't particularly want to have to equip everyone in my field crew with redundant devices. In the current financial environment our folks will be provided with only one platform - and as our current generation of netbooks cycles out of use, it will be the iphone OS that looks ready to fill that niche for all sorts of other reasons. By saying that the cost of the user interface device will always be a small part of the total cost of the infrastructure that LV VIs are used with, I suspect that the previous post has disregarded a large market segment, where the cost of hundreds of dollars per unit for duplicate mobile devices actually is a significant barrier to adoption. It would be in my case.
One has to consider Apple's business strategy e.g. with Flash &c. They tend to define the playing field and ultimately people who aren't willing to play get marginalized. I'm not saying I approve of that - but it seems to be the way things are now. The iphone/ipad OS + App Store is probably the future model of software distribution that we will have to live with, despite all the unpleasant aspects of it (3 BILLION app downloads after only 19 months in operation?). I think that if LV disregards an enormous pool of devices that are in the hands of all sorts of professionals who work with hospital/laboratory/manufacturing/monitoring instruments and other equipment on a daily basis, then NI limits its potential for expansion. If NI makes the wrong call on this, and requires millions of potential users who already use and own a multitouch device/interface to adapt some earlier mobile platform, someone else is going to produce instrument control software that can live within the requirements of the iphone license terms, and then LV could start to see market erosion.
So of course, the last person to comment is correct - for 2010 the short term business case is weak for the iphone port (if it is even technically possible) - but as an end-user/developer I hope that NI will review its business case for deciding to stay out of this sphere for the longer term. Message transmitted, and hope to be able to continue to use LV in the future... This is the first forum I've ever posted on - interesting experience - so let me sign off this thread having put in a pitch for rethinking the OS approach for LV.
This conversation is all very interesting.
But let me make an outlandish suggestion.
Perhaps we should use the iphone for what its basic purpose is. MAKE PHONE CALLS!!
So much crap as been added on to all of these portable devices that people have seem to have forgotten. IT IS A TELEPHONE!!!
Quit trying to make it be the end all be all device.