While often used that way, these two are not synonymous. iPhone is the device while the SDK is for both iPhone and iPad. There can also be iPhone-specific questions that do not involve the SDK (e.g. web-development & AppStore).

The situation with the tag usage and now the renaming to iOS SDK is a bit unfortunate, but as it is now we can't differentiate questions which are about the SDK from those specific to the iPhone device.

Also of note: while we can't currently tag as [iphone-sdk], we can tag as [iphone-sdk-N]/[iphone-sdk-N.N] (i.e. specific SDK versions). There is also a [ipad-sdk] which would be useful as a synonym for [iphone-sdk], but would probably confuse users if being automatically changed to [iphone].


The reason I voted for it as a synonym is just out of realization for how people use the site. When native developers ask a programming question related to the iPhone, the vast majority of the time they will tag it [iphone]. Few of those questions end up tagged [iphone-sdk] (38,643 for [iphone] vs. 9,398 for [iphone-sdk]).

Therefore, when looking for native iPhone development questions to answer (as the #1 alltime answerer for the [iphone] and [iphone-sdk] tags, I do this a lot), I follow the RSS feed of the [iphone] tag. Questions can end up being ignored if people just tag them as [iphone-sdk] and not [iphone], thus the synonym.

As far as the other potential topics you describe, I regard pure App Store questions as being offtopic for Stack Overflow, because they are not programming related and usually are either tech support problems for Apple's site or business related. Web development is the one area where the [iphone-sdk] / [iphone] tag synonym breaks down, because that is independent of the iPhone SDK.

In an ideal world, I would like to see everyone tag native iPhone development questions as [cocoa-touch] for the SDK and [iphone] or [ipad] for the platform, like how [cocoa] and [mac] are used for Mac desktop development. However, unless we can train all new users to tag this way and retag all 38,643 existing [iphone] questions in an appropriate manner, I think we have to acknowledge how people are actually using the site.

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  • I concur with this assessment. Like with XSL versus XSLT, this is a situation where one tag is used by the community to primarily reference the superclass situation. – Grace Note Sep 8 '10 at 15:50
  • There are at least two cases where it breaks down, web-dev and if questions are device-specific. [cocoa-touch] is also not synonymous to [iphone-sdk] - consider UNIX APIs etc. My major problem with it that these simply are not synonymous terms as soon as there are non-exotic use-cases where this breaks down. – Georg Fritzsche Sep 8 '10 at 16:00
  • @Georg - Yes, web development is probably the biggest area where this runs into a problem. What tags or combinations of tags would someone follow right to get all iPhone web development questions? I don't know. – Brad Larson Sep 8 '10 at 17:33
  • @Georg - Maybe synonyms are the wrong way to think of terms like this. [iphone-sdk] and [iphone] are not equal, but [iphone-sdk] should be a subset of [iphone] (excepting [ipad] for now). Given that there is not a tag hierarchy yet, synonyms seem to be a stopgap way of handling these issues. Perhaps if [iphone-sdk] tagged questions automatically had [iphone] added as a tag this would no longer be an issue. – Brad Larson Sep 8 '10 at 17:48
  • Yes, that those are not synonymous is all i'm getting at :) Waffles made the case rather clear i think. I don't have an optimal solution either, but as far as i see it at least everyone tagging [iphone] develops for iPhone in some way while tagging [iphone-sdk] doesn't imply that iPhone is specifically targeted. – Georg Fritzsche Sep 8 '10 at 18:33
  • Maybe you have some input for this as well? – Georg Fritzsche Sep 10 '10 at 8:32

We need a way to ask questions about web pages behaviour on the iPhone, so should we:

Blacklist “iPhone” then have “iPhone-SDK” and “iPhone-web”

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Questions about the device itself aren't appropriate for SO. If you're asking a question about the iPhone on SO, your asking a question about programming it, which involves using the iPhone SDK. For that reason I think the synonym is appropriate.

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  • 2
    Did you read my second sentence at all? Also the iPad and iPhone have different properties, thus device-specific questions make sense. – Georg Fritzsche Sep 8 '10 at 13:07

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