A little while ago I covered the Windows Azure toolkit for iOS, where iPhone developers can use the cloud to host their apps. Now the Interoperability Team (say that fast, twice) at the mothership in Redmond has announced the release of the Android API Mapping Tool for Windows Phone 7, meaning Android developers can easily port their apps to the Windows Phone platform. Woo-hoo! Now it’s easier to do stuff like this.
why would someone want to do this?
We’re big fans of Windows Phone but then it could be argued we’re slightly biased; with the Mango announcement we posted a few videos outlining what’s going to be coming to the platform very shortly – check them out here and see what you think.
But if you’re already developing for Android, effectively you can extend the reach of your apps to more people, with the support of Microsoft. If you’re into the the Windows Phone UX, you can spend your time taking advantage of the design aspects. If you’re more interested in the sheer number of eyeballs – it’s an easy way of getting to existing Windows Phone 7 users, and pretty soon those holding spanking new Nokias as well.
How comprehensive are the mapping tools?
Mapping APIs is actually a pretty tedious and labour-intensive effort; the official word is “we caution developers not to expect mapping of all of the APIs, simply because the platforms are built upon different architectures and user interfaces. And for the first round, we focused primarily in areas that we could identify one-to-one mapping scenarios.” I’d read that as saying it’s ongoing work.
For this Android work for example, the initial mapping covers the same set of categories than for iOS, and also includes mapping at the Java language level (type system, XML). In future updates, the scope will expand significantly. An example of what to expect as differences between the frameworks:
App UI and Device Integration
I love it/I hate it – who can I speak to/yell at?
The team created the “App Guy” who crawls developer forums aggregating discussions from different locations to answer questions related to porting iOS and Android applications to Windows Phone… If you don’t like the look of this dude view further guidance.