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Microsoft introduces tools to let developers quickly compile iOS apps for Windows 10

Microsoft has announced at Build 2015 that their new tools will allow developers to compile the Objective-C code for their iOS apps to work on Windows 10.

The new toolkit in Visual Studio will allow devs to build Windows Store-ready apps from Objective-C iOS code, and will support the touch controls and keyboard and mouse. The tools also allow for integration for Xbox Live, as well as other Microsoft services and features. This technology is already be demoed with Candy Crush for Windows Phone.

For more from Build 2015, keep it locked to our Keynote Live Blog.

117 Comments
  • This is mindblowing. How did they even do this? It's more interesting than porting Android apps IMO.
  • True. Though it's still no guarantee the apps will come. Companies like snap chat or bank of America have to show an interest in the existence of WP.
  • True, but they may have interest in an app for Xbox One or Windows in general.  If they can write that app and get a WP app "for free" in the process then I think a lot more of them will do it.
  • Pebble didn't want a free app b/c the CEO is an anti-MS douche nozzle.
  • Man, do I agree with you on that. That dirtbag has something against Mixrosoft? What the F could be so bad that he would jeopardize sales for his company.?  I wanted to buy the new Pebble because I switched to windows 8 phone, but when I asked if they were going to port to Windows and I got a no, I switched to the Band. If I were a board member I'd kick his ass out of the company, that is if he isn't the sole owner.      
  • remember there are many iSHEEP are out there, which CrApple gives them some $$$$$ if they use only CrApple prod and services, and bash other brands like Microsoft. if you notice, every time, there are a new prods comes out, somehow CrApple's name will come in the picture. it does not matter what it is, we have to hear iJUNK or iMaxi-Pad, or MacCrap, even though whatever the prods is, its 10000x better than CrApple overrated trash, but their name has to be said or brought up. this is a brainwashing technique CrApple is using on iSHEEP. just look at that horrible CrApple watch that finally came out, that is just ugly and horrible with huge price tag just to make it good. All these media, pretending there are no smart watches were ever made, and CrApple is the one and only Smart Watch is out there, and no one else even counts. Again, this is how brainwashing technique works. unfortunatly CrApple knows how to backstab MS, and others, and no one really sees it. CrApple is the most EVIL comp in the world, wit that stupid Mark Of The Devil/Beast logo, that they talked about in the Bible, and those who fallow it blindly """""iSHEEP"""""(CrApple's ONLY invention). 
  • There will always be some small percentage of developers or business owners that have a personal issue with other companies and feel the need to make some kind of point.  However, *smart* business owners want to get their product/service out to as many customers as possible.
  • How stupid would a company have to be to alienate a bunch of users because they don't feel like clicking a button? I know it's a little more complex than just a button click, but it's obviously a ton easier now.
  • Because if you release an app, you have to support it, and it's not as easy as just clicking a button for apps that are a bit more complicated than a game or simple portal to web services.
  • In total agreement with @Axmantim on this one.  They have given you the tools to take your iOS version in Objective-C, and easily compile it for the platform.  That doesn't add significant development time or effort.  The apps that are offered by most companies that service large customer bases are basically data driven applications - that's not complicated. Man, there are some new things happening at Microsoft!
  • When they update it...they click the button again. 
  • Exactly,   It's support that is the on going resource drain.  I very much doubt that it's as easy as taking an existing app and just recompiling it, and getting native app performance.
  • A company has to dedicate resources to QA testing the apps and these cross-platform frameworks never work well. Honestly we've had several paths a developer could take to do this sort of thing. PhoneGap is the most popular and the apps build on that platform have been highly criticized for performance. Microsoft takes no risk and puts all those risk on the developers who would use a framework like this to port apps. Before any developer considers that move the first thing they look at is market share and ask "does this device have enough user base to make this effort worth our time". With Windows Mobile and tablet you have to realize they have about 3% market share. So for many companies, I would say even most companies it's still just not worth it to port apps. Microsoft needed to get an innovative mobile devices on the market quickly in the years following the initial iPhone release and they failed. They also entered the tablet market late and now they expect app developers and software companies to take those risk on the value of their brand legacy. That value is just almost non-existant in mobile/tablet space so this strategy will fail. I think a person of average intelligence can deduce this. The smartest thing Microsoft could have done was to joint he Android camp, fork Android (as Amazon did) then lure app developers that way. Technically that is a lot different than what's going on here. 
  • I stopped reading when you said 'never work well' Candy Crush was done with this and no one knew the difference. I'd say it worked well.
  • What is SnapChat?
  • You mean SnapCrap?
  • lol
  • W10*
  • Building native Windows 10 apps will still be the way to go. And 1 billion devices...
  • That's the value. 1 billion devices as possible target! The issue of small market share gone. There's no excuse to not release a Windows app.
  • Snapchat's CEO is just an asshole and Bank of America's been riding Apple's jock for a while now.  I don't use Snapchat and I moved my accounts from B of A to Wells Fargo a few weeks ago.
  • Not only more interesting, also a lot smarter!
  • Way more interesting, the best tablet apps and games are nearly always available on iOS  long before they are on Android. If it's easy to port to Windows, then we will get them before Android and suddenly from a Windows tablet being a little pointless it can now be the best tablet on the market.
  • I suspect they have developed a code translator and built it into Visual Studio.  It basically would map API calls and syntax from non-native code to the native equivalent and then compile a native app.
  • Agree. Android app library is nothing compared to iOS app library.
  • That's not why he finds it mindblowing...
  • And I wasn't agreeing on his mind being blown. People need to realize this is a bigger news than the Android port news.
  • What would be mind blowing is if they added system level support for airplay, iPrint and chromecast.  :)
  • Why the heck would it need that? It already supports Miracast which is way more robust than Chromecast's streaming from a tab - you can mirror everything on your TV. Why would it need AirPlay (something that only works for iOS) when it can play over the air to any DLNA device that cost much less than AirPlay devices or is already built into your TV? Why would it need iPrint support when it can already support WiFi printing from all the major printer companies including my favorite - Brother? I'm not trying to diss you, it's just that your comment is on the mark as to why Windows 8 was failing in the market, because you didn't know what power was already built in to Windows OS.
  • Even Shareit in Windowsphone is also from iOS app
  • I know right, I am surprised that apple isnt suing the shit out of microsoft right now.
  • What could they possibly sue for? All Microsoft has done is design a platform to work with Objective-C which just happens to be a programming language of choice for iOS.
  • Wow. That's pretty amazing. Gogo Microsoft. XD
  • unless its a lie like when they show pc games and say its running on xbox  i wish they never did that kind of stuff
  • Everyone does that, it's a demo. The controversial part was that they used immensely more powerful computers than the Xbox One.
  • Candy Crush was ported over from ios using this method...
  • Mind blowing Microsoft... Its really great offering..
  • How is it mind blowing? Are you stupid?
  • Hey he is not but you are stupid. Yes, its mind blowing
  • He's just being a troll  
  • No, a simple name like "Edge" is not mind blowing. Especially if it's such a downgrade from a great name like Spartan. You're stupid as fuck.
  • A downgrade no less haha. It's just a name.
  • wtf are even talking about?
  • Lol it seems like you entered wrong article lol
  • LOL, it's pretty mind blowing. Any dev will admit that.
  • It is mind blowing because no one predicted this. Everyone predicted, MS would annouce Android apps to run on Windows devices.  They were wrong.
  • Its Brilliant is what it is... Now, anyone who has written an IOS app, can now bring it to all of the lost cost windows phones around the world. To people that could have never afforded an Apple Phone or IPad, plus they will be able to pay for the app with Carrier Billing. Brilliant. I was still hoping for some Flagship WP hardware thou. 
  • That came out of left field, we all knew the rumour for Android apps, but iOS as well, that's huge. Getting iPad tablet apps for Windows is going to be a real win for Windows; a chance to jump over Android for tablet functionality as iOS still by far has the best tablet experience.
  • "This technology is already be demoed with Candy Crush for Windows Phone." might wanna fix that. But this is great news though.
  • Well what do you know? My comment from a few days ago on a different post was right!
  • What's the incentive for investing in windows universal apps
  • Lol you don't get it, do you? These iOS apps scale across devices, making them universal.
  • It may mess with the WP style guidelines and many companies may abandon the original WP code base.  Probably not a bad thing in the long run but something to consider.
  • I don't really think they'll abandon WP code, Lets say Windows Store now has many apps like IOS store = More users = More Dev interest. If your app don't run well and loads of people are using it, then you have no choice than to keep updating it. for it to run more smoother, you have to use the original code. MS will get loads of users and devs can't just ignore them.
  • I don't know if these scale...
  • Lol. Ehm now you can take the code from the ios or android app and compile it for windows universal apps. Take their code and make it for windows. So reconfigure it for a lot of different devices. Like video apps for Xbox and games.
  • That isn't my point !! If I write in objective C, for every app windows gains,iOS also gains. Same goes with android. Windows phone life was made difficult because developer couldn't easily port, so in the long run it could easily, backstab. It would make windows vulnerable to competing Os. Microsoft have to show developers some incentive for learning and writing in c# and xaml
  • User base is the incentive.
  • All though they can port the code from Objective-C to work with Windows, they would still need to add additional code to take advantage of the Windows features not available on iOS. That is, they would need to add C# and XAML code to "light up" certain windows features. The good news is, all these iOS and Android developers can easily take their existing applications and get them running today on Windows then possible invest in updating their apps to have native support for windows in the future.
  • Bomb. Dropped.
  • Bomb? Thermonuclear weapons you mean.
  • THERMONUCLEAR WARFARE SIMULATION
  • SnapChat CEO has already blocked access to the tool on the company firewalls.  Quote "I don't give a **** about 1 billion devices."
  • Where was that said?
  • He's being sarcastic.
  • That's what I thought. It wouldn't have surprised me either. 
  • 'Take me back Taylor Swift! I'm sorry about all the dick pics I sent on my app!'
  • Wierdness of Objective C 
  • got a few laughs
  • That sure was funny!
  • Great work! I love Microsoft!
  • I have already emailed MLB to bring to their attention the new apparent ease of porting over iOS/android apps. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • No need for android apps now. iOS developers don't seem to be as arrogant as others and are more willing to port their apps to Windows. And so it begins...
  • As a newbie developer I can barely wrap my mind around how awesome this is. Keep up the good work folks.
  • The question is, what will this reveal?  Will we learn that companies/app developers are against the Microsoft platform? I certainly hope not. I know there is an enormous user base in iOS and Android, but who wouldn't want a few more million $$ in their pockets?  Isn't foolish to even ignore the millions of Windows Phone users worldwide? I know this information would make me think twice about doing business with someone.
  • Nice! iOS apps and Games have much more quality than Android ones in general... Nice to see it.
  • Amazing!!
  • Need official Facebook app,,,,,
  • Why would you post that here? *smh*
  • Snap chat on WP?
  • Nah...SnapChat's days are numbered. I'm already using Cyber Dust and I'm starting to see it grow in popularity. If Mark Cuban would just talk about it on Shark Tank, it would already be huge! ha ha
  • Not really. None of my friends use it, or know of it. SnapChat on the other hand is still going strong.
  • That's a very "today is always" perspective.  Cyber Dust is GROWING and has MONEY behind it and it's more USEFUL.  Just because one thing is popular today, doesn't mean that something else won't supplant it tomorrow.  
  • True however the same goes for Cyber Dust. and you said ''days are numbered'' which is a bold statement.
  • Same does go for Cyber Dust, but they aren't on top...yet.  I do think SnapChat's days are numbered. Mark Cuban will recruit some celebs and CD will get some attention. When it does, people will see that it's superior and they'll stick around.  SnapChat is just PURE arrogance and that never bodes well in the long term.  Obviously, I can't use ShapChat on my Lumia, but it's no longer installed on my GS5 either.  I have a feeling that many people will be switching in the coming months.
  • Okay. I don't/can't use it either haha. I've got Cyber Dust on my phone just in case but none of my contacts have it.(Dutch) Don't get me wrong I would like/hope for a good an worthy competitor it's just that none of my friends even know it you know. Let's hope more will switch I just don't have a good feeling about it:(
  • that's the problem is that some people have to be first.  I'm the first in my circle and I'm slowly getting them to switch.  Get a couple and then people start feeling left out. WE know about feeling left out. ha ha ha Send them the video demo and they'll see how much more useful it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7zQcjlTL48
    I told my Facebook peeps that this was the next thing and that it had Mark Cuban's BILLIONS behind it.  :)  I even sent him a Cyber Dust message and he responded to me.  
     
  • Cyber Dust needs a better name. But it works so nice on Windows.
  • Now everyone go spam the living crap out of your bank of choice. Facebook, email, twitter, whatever.
    Do your civic duty!!!
  • What about this.  Company XYZ has a wonderful app for iOS, and a wonderful app for Android.  But they're not the same.  Which one do they port to Windows? 
  • the better of the two
  • both and publish the one that works best with less changes made to the code. 
  • The devil's always in the details with this sort of thing. For example, is OpenGL ES2 or ES3 in WinRT10 or will GLSL shaders have to be rewritten in HLSL? What sort of clunky "add-on" will have to be used for the conversion? How much customized code needs to be written?
  • Considering that GLSL and HLSL are essentially modelled on the same HW design, I'd say that a automagical transformation would be possible for a technology company like Microsoft. (Let's not forget that Nvidia Cg solved - ok tried to solve - that problem years ago…)
  • I think this is a homerun! This is exactly what I've been waiting to hear. I'll I need to know is when will the next high-end phone be released. Then good-bye iOS and welcome back WP! So excited!
  • Wow ..... Its just the icing on the cake....
  • Well, THANKFULLY, it's not a "let's run emulated Android apps on Windows" like people have been clamouring for.  I *still* think it will take some action from us users.  iDroid-centric companies probably aren't paying attention and will still need to hear the demand from us.  As soon as the tools are released, I'm compiling (pun intended) a list of companies and developers that I'll be sending the information to.   Hopefully, others will do the same thing. 
  • As a windows phone user this is great, however as an exclusively windows phone developer I am concerned... Some of my biggest apps are to support hardware that manufacturers give away apps for on other platforms, but ignore windows phone. This is a niche situation that won't apply to a lots of devs... The real issue is why should I write native WP apps anymore? It seems like everyone should write Android apps now. It may not be as good as a native windows phone app, but seems to make a lot more sense time wise/financially. Granted this is easier to do when you write the OS, but it would have been nice if they built into Visual Studio an easy way to generate android apps from your windows phone projects
  • Hopefully the process will get so good that it would be like writing native apps for all platforms at the same time.  I have no delusions of that being the current reality, but it could get there.  Apple will fight it, of course. Apps are really their main competitive advantage. You may still have a niche.  I'm not sure what your apps are and I'm REALLY not sure what the limitations of this recompiling process are.  I hope you can not only survive, but THRIVE in the new environment.
  • People write in the languages they know best ...if you write in .net/c# keep doing it. You can easily port your native Windows 10 apps to android and ios.
  • Cross post from my reply on Android post:   As a Microsoft Developer-- yesterday when I read this I was mad. Today, I saw it... all of it... and I am pleased. Look at the big picture here. Android currently dominates mobile followed by iOS, we all know that. What most of you may not know, not being developers. Microsofts development tools are far superior to anything else out there. Additionally the user base is about to explode. I think rather than seeing a bunch of iOS/Android apps ported, the big picture is attract those devs to the Microsoft Development Platform. Its a risky move, but today, as a Microsoft Developer, I was nothing but motivated and pumped up. I think we're going to start seeing a shift. Not a "wait for Mango", "wait for 8", "wait for 8.1"... but an actual turning of the tables here. A huge user base on Windows again, plus their dev tools might just mean people STARTING on Windows and porting out to iOS/Android.
  • Do these tools go in the other direction?  Can developers write for Windows phone and then port to iDroid??
  • They can via Xamarin which is now included in Visual Studio 2015.
  • Which version of XAMARIN? Indie?
  • In my opinion MS gave the developers the incentive to develop first for IOS and then port it with their tools to Windows Phone. I could be wrong, but who wants to spend a US$250 or US$1000 a yea per platform  to write a real multiplatform app, when he gets it free from Microsoft?
  • Yes with Xamarin or phonegap/cordova if you programmed in html/javascript.
  • You, being a developer, may be excited for this news. Me, being a consumer..., well I'm on the fence. I'll give Microsoft more time and see how all these pan out. It might not be tomorrow, it might not be for another year, but do you think that developers will actually port their apps to Windows 10 now? 
  • Why wouldn't they? Minimal effort/cost and expands their potential customer base by millions.  The "market share" MBA wannabes will say "ha...3% market share" because they don't know what they're talking about.  This is a good thing.  They do NOT have to recode their entire apps.  This is NOT just running an emulated port and even live tiles will work.  What Microsoft has done here is kinda magical! :) 
  • The problem is that Apple is currently pushing their devlopers to give up Objective-C and use Swift instead. So in the future there will be less apps than support Objective-C (and therefore can be recompiled for Windows 10) as most developers seem to be more interested in Swift as it is the "easier less painful experience". Plus I highly doubt that Windows 10 will support all iOS API calls. So there still will be lots of work to rewrite these app sections.
  • Apple may be pushing developers, but it still takes time for people to get good at a new language, while at the same time, Microsoft can be prepping their tool to handle Swift.  I think MS has made quite an effort and I don't think the revisions to iOS apps will be as overwhelming as you think they will be.  What would say a better alternative would be?
  • The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
  • I wonder if Microsoft will use this tool to bring their iOS and Android apps to Windows Phone. :/
  • So I went and downloaded Candy Crush on my Lumia to check it out now that I know it's the first ported app, and this thng is HUGE, 48Mb for 1 game??? Is that just the size of the game or is it like this on iOS also?
  • 48Meg is actually quite small for most modern mobile phone games.  There are even games where they download the core at 50-100megs and when you launch the game for the first time downloads another 200megs or bigger chuck worth of "game data", many games won't even do this over mobile data and only does it via wifi because the devs know they will burn through your data.....
  • That's not so big.  I have downloaded despicable me and that game where 200mb
  • Yeah have to agree with the comments.  It's big news about porting Ios apps to windows.  Can't wait for developers to actually do that.  We just have to wait and see what the outcome of this may be.
  • Upload clash of clans for windows phone