If you know me, this title seems a little weird perhaps. I’m a Windows Phone fan as a developer as well as a consumer. It’s really important to keep in mind that before being a developer, you’re a consumer. For 4 years, I am fighting every day for the platform I like, sometimes taking risks, because I believe in the platform, I believe in the vision of Microsoft and I want to do my best to make this platform a nice platform to use for consumer.
So, yesterday, Microsoft announced 2 new tools, an Android app converter and an iOS app converter and you perhaps saw me in the video (seriously, Why film me at this exact moment !) applauding the ios converter.
— Nicolas Popy(@nicolaspopy) 29 Avril 2015
I applauded two things:
– the technical challenge, this is not something easy and can only applaud all of the developers who worked on this. I currently work on an other converter and I know how complicated is it. Bravo guys
– Microsoft succeeds to not leak this information, I like to be surprised, I was
So, why I’m not mad
In my opinion, we make a big mistake thinking these converters are perfect: they aren’t
It’s ok for a small and simple apps (transit apps, tourism apps, administrative apps, etc…) but not for complicated apps, in this case, performances will be bad and buggy.
Just take an example : map control, I’m almost sure this one will not be 100% compatible or really restricted : this is one of the most hardest control to manage: multi-layers, pins, vectorial paths, etc… and it’s only one example. You will be able to display a map, but if you want to display vectorial shapes or multi-pins, it will be a little challenge. How many apps use maps? A lot! Android/iOS developers will need to adapt them code to use Bing maps instead of Google maps.
These converters will really help the platform, bringing all these interesting and simple apps but let be honest : boring to develop.
Don’t expect to have an Instagram, Spotify, Runastic, Waze, Snapchat, etc… with these converters. Candy crush is simplest to port than all these apps : cause it’s a game, all UI is managed by simple instruction to GPU + nobody said that it was easy to convert and 100% compatible.
But the good news, we will be able to have these apps for almost no cost (from local top apps):
All these apps are interesting for users, simple to develop, have only simple controls, easily portable and don’t need to be efficient (if the page loading takes 1 second instead of 0.2ms, it’s ok)
One simple example, in France, we can pay a “burger menu” at Mac Donald for only half of price, but for that, you need to use a mobile app… only available on Android & iOS. So what I prefer?
- Pay the full price for my BigMac
- Or pay half of the price for it with my ios/android ported app (not as smooth as a native app, with a bad UI and it will perhaps take 2 seconds to load BUT Its not important for this kind of app and I will have the same advantage than my other friends).
This is why I’m happy, for some apps, performance and design is not important, you only use them 10 seconds by month but it give you some advantages, thanks to Microsoft.
Let’s speak about an other thing: Bing Translator.
With this tool, you can translate an english text to spanish, the translation is not perfect, have some issues and you need to modify it manually but it’s perfect for simple and not complicated text.
Ok, here is how these converters are in my opinion :
Some technical limitations
- Android ported apps can only run on Windows 10 Mobile
- These apps will not have access to all windows features: Cortana, Continuum, etc…
- Not all android/ios features can be converted
- Because iOS port uses source-code… you need all source codes, including source code of libraries you uses… so you need to link your apps to these source codes, and if a library uses on an other one, same process… Can be really boring + not all these libraries are open-source
- for iOS, we only saw games, xib doesn’t seem to be supported (to create page and controls)
will I lose my job?
You’re no more a windows phone developer, you’re a windows developer : Mobile+Desktop+Xbox+Surface Hub+IOT+Hololens, only native apps can do it, you will have more customers, so more revenues for almost nothing, one code = many platforms. You will have more opportunities than before.
An other important thing is only native apps will have access to some features (IMO) : Lockscreen, geofencing, Cortana, background agents(?), NFC (perhaps for android apps), continuum, etc… and performance will be better, native apps will be very interesting for many companies. Just ask you a question: do you know a top apps made with Xamarin? Not me.
Last point, on Windows Phone 8.1, you can already develop apps using : .Net, QT, Cordova, Xamarin, HTML, it’s just one more tool for developers. Do you know the number of SDK available on Windows 7/8 to create an app ? Not me, but it’s huge, but major apps are made using XAML/WPF/WinForm, Microsoft technologies.
For simple apps, it will be perfect, don’t forget that some of these simple apps are very interesting apps sometimes !
Let be honest, WP developers aren’t interesting to develop this kind of apps, we like to work on complicated custom controls, tweak performances, make beautiful UI and I’m sure we have our place on this new world and Windows 10 gives us new tools, new platforms, new way to create some new awesome applications.
So let just say welcome to our new friends and enjoy windows 10.