Yesterday at Build, Microsoft offered a very large and somewhat tempting olive branch to developers who are currently only focused on the development of Android and iOS apps. There was grumbling on the net about the how and when a development like this would occur for Windows. With Microsoft being a distant third in mobile operating systems, the question of why bring Android and iOS into Windows was rarely up for discussion. Now that Microsoft has talked about how they plan to incorporate the two new development environments, new questions are arising as to how current Windows Phone and Windows developers feel about potential future.
When it comes to modern Windows development, there are a handful of developers who have garnered almost superstar status in the community. None other than social media app savior Rudy Huyn weighed in with his impressions about yesterday's news, on his personal blog.
Today, Rudy posted the piece, Android and iOS developers are my new friends. In a very open and detailed discussion, Rudy talks about how the announcement may not be the panacea it appears to be, but he's very welcoming and optimistic about the possibilities. Rudy starts off his blog with applauding the technical work that was put behind the new tools. "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."
While the technical prowess is impressive to Rudy, he's not quite as impressed with how current developers will take to the tools due to limitations Microsoft glossed over during the presentation.
"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."
According to Rudy, this approach may be more targeted for new app developers rather than the sought after ones currently in the market, and for good reason. In his expert opinion, there are few limitations to the tools that make them less than ideal for current Android and iOS developers, and they have nothing to do with cost.
- Android ported apps can only run on Windows 10 Mobile.
- 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).
As for the future of Windows developers, should a flood of Android and iOS find their way onto Windows, Rudy takes a contrarian attitude than more vocal developers. His response seems to be grounded in knowledge and less in passion (for which he more than has for Windows Phone).
"An other important thing is only native apps will have access to some features : 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."
Rudy concludes his piece with the simple thought that Microsoft offering these new tools are nice, but the Windows 10 platform offers more advantages to developers who look beyond porting. As an app developer, how do you feel about this?