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Microsoft pokes the bear, offers dev guide for porting iPhone apps to Windows Mobile

Gotta love Microsoft for this one. The mother ship shows its chutzpah and has released a developers guide for porting iPhone apps (opens in new tab) over to Windows mobile 6.5, using an app called Amplitude for the case study. All in all, not a bad idea, really. Let's face it: There are a bunch of apps we'd love to see running natively on Windows Mobile. (And we've got a few that would be killer on the iPhone, though there's no way Apple would let most of the them into the App Store.)

Yeah, yeah. Microsoft (and us, by extension) are just opening ourselves up for further ridicule here. Go head, Apple lovers, joke all you want. But while you're doing so, we'll be sitting here enjoying our excellent third-party media players and Google Voice. Microsoft opening its (far less Draconian) doors to developers is a win for them, and for us.

Via the Windows Team Blog

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

16 Comments
  • Well said sir!
  • Not just that, WM apps have been getting ported over to iPhone for some time now: SlingPlayer
    Pocket Informant
    Agendus Pro
    etc...
  • Yah but with restrictions. The Slingplayer and Skype for example, unless jailbroken, it can only be used via wifi. No such restriction with windows.
  • It's pure genius. You all can bust out the haterade, but when it comes down to it, eventually, people will realize they now have hundreds of other handsets to choose from that can do all the iPhone can and then some. iPhone users rejoice! You no longer have to live in denial and say things like "I don't need MMS." This, IMO, will level out the playing field and should cause manufacturers to come up with more innovative ways to lure consumers to purchase their handsets. But these phones still won't sell if the public doesn't know about it. Gotta spend the money for advertising, because Apple is king in this department.
  • Makes total sense since the apps won't face nearly the same scrutiny...
  • ouldn't agree more with ninjaap. micrsoft needs to market the heck out of marketplace, zune, and windows phone (6.5 and 7).
  • Nice idea, but iPhone devs will still have to take into consideration factors such as multiple screen resolutions, something they previously needn't have worried about. I suspect that might prevent many an app from being ported.
  • I do have a feeling though that this multiple screen res/hardware specs card is slightly overplayed. Eventually older hardware has to be cut loose. I think the days of seeing QVGA screen (on all but the cheapest of the cheap WM handsets) are gone and it seems as though VGA is rapidly going the same way. All of the 'new wave' of WM handsets. Starting with the HTC Touch HD and continuing with Pro2, Diamond2 soon the Leo etc, all the Omnias, we're seeing WVGA as standard. I can't remember what the spec sheet fro WM7 said but I'm pretty sure that all devices built for WM7 have to have WVGA screens. So I say just develop for VGA and up (or am I bein narrow minded?) I remember seeing that if an app can be written with perfect scalability so screen res shouldn't be an issue anyway.
  • I've had a great amount of success in compatibility with multiple resolutions. It is only a hassle if you design your applications to have specific layouts with specific devices. But if you design your programs with the assumption that the display surface can be resized at any given time (this is how desktop programs work) then you end up with a program that is compatible across resolutions, even those resolutions that have not come into existence yet on Windows Phones.
  • I agree , even some of the iphone apps that I download although they are pretty useful have issues of screen resolutions at times >.
  • Heh, notice the fact that this app has a fully-custom UI and doesn't use most of the iPhone API's capabilities. The vast majority of iPhone apps use Apple's (touch-friendly) UI controls and dev frameworks, like Cocoa, etc. Try porting those over easily, or something that uses, say, Location (Cell triangulation/GPS) or other sensor data (accelerometer, etc.)-- won't be quite so easy, as there's just simply no equivalent on the WM side. iPhone developers can create nice-looking apps with lots of functionality in no time. To even approach that in WM, they'd need to get a designer and do a bunch of in-house control development on the UI side. Visual Studio is probably the best dev environment bar none (perhaps I'm partial as a VS developer), but WM is quite lacking, and matching the user experience of an iPhone app in WM is very difficult, if at all possible, at the moment. And as for moving to the WM Marketplace to gain freedom...not really. The only freedom you get is that MS probably won't restrict apps that compete with it, because it's not really a player in any mobile-related software (besides the OS) anyway. Its media service, Zune, is totally disconnected from WM, so no problem there, and as for things like the browser, MS is actually, if anything, _dependent_ on third parties to bring a decent experience for core applications to WM to help patch up the huge weaknesses of the OS and included software. And WM Marketplace seems potentially even more restrictive than the iPhone App Store in terms of not allowing applications suggesting violence and such.
  • The location technology in the iPhone wasn't created by Apple, it was created by Skyhook Wireless (http://skyhookwireless.com). It is available to Windows Mobile, Android, Windows Vista, Linux, and so on. There once was a complaint that managed developers could not use this API in their C#/VB.Net programs. So I created a wrapper for it and just like some of the other resources mentioned in that article I posted it on CodeProject.
  • Right, and I've actually read your article (great job btw) and built some test apps with it some months ago. The only issue is that it's not really feasible to use a dev account on a production app (I've hit the cap just in testing myself), and how many developers are going to buy a SkyHook license just to get location data? (vs. having it built into iPhone API- Core Location) Same thing applies for lots of other things-- WM has no common APIs for sensors like accelerometers, digital compasses, light sensors, proximity sensors, etc., and any devices that have such hardware have implemented proprietary means of doing so. There are some community efforts to reverse-engineer HTC and others' sensors, but again, not something practical for a production app. Not to mention the lack of a usable 3D API for hardware acceleration... some new WM phones have somewhat decent GPUs, and someone wrote a managed OpenGL ES wrapper, but there's no decent first-party solution that's suitable for production apps yet will run on a decent portion of WM phones.
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  • This is great! I'm so glad I didn't buy an iPhone. I must say I've been temped many times by all those apps. Like they say "Patience is a virtue".
  • Gee - it looks just like an iphone!!! Go iBill go!!