Microsoft releases preview of tools to convert iOS apps to Windows 10 as open source

Microsoft has decided to release an early version of its previously announced Windows Bridge for iOS tools to the open source community. The bridge, which was announced in April 2015 at Microsoft's BUILD conference under the code name "Project Islandwood", will allow iOS developers to quickly convert their apps to ones that can run natively on Windows 10.

In a blog post, Microsoft explains why they released this preview version of Windows Bridge for iOS as an open source project:

"We're releasing the iOS bridge as an open-source project under the MIT license. Given the ambition of the project, making it easy for iOS developers to build and run apps on Windows, it is important to note that today's release is clearly a work-in-progress — some of the features demonstrated at Build are not yet ready or still in an early state. Regardless, we'd love for the interested and curious to look at the bridge, and compare what we're building with your app's requirements. And, for the really ambitious, we invite you to help us by contributing to the project, as community contributors — with source code, tests, bug reports, or comments. We welcome any and all participation in building this bridge."

The code is now available to download on GitHub, and currently supports turning iOS apps into ones for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 that run on x86 and x64 processors. The code will be updated later to support Windows 10 apps that run on ARM-based processors. The final version of Windows Bridge for iOS will be released later this fall.

Source: Microsoft

210 Comments
  • Amazing. Go MS, go
  • This proves how desperate Microsoft is towards getting more and more users and how much it cares about is existing customers. Liking the new culture that is being brought in Microsoft. Really go Microsoft go...!
  • This is the dumbest comment I've read in a while. How is improving the app ecosystem being desperate? They are trying to bring apps to it's users. They are very smart for all they did with the unification of Windows and with app porting. There is nothing desperate about it they are showing their ambition to succeed and please their user base. You are an idiot! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It's a positive comment but with incorrect wording, maybe down to a non English first language. Replace 'desperate' with 'keen' and the whole thing reads positively. You got as far as that key word and didn't read the rest.
  • Yeah I completely misread it as well until your post reminded me to reread without a native english speaker's frame of mind.  Microsoft is 'desparate' aka strongly motivated to expand its ecosystem even going so far as to move technical mountains to include more developers in its app market.   That's a very favorable position and one I agree with. Microsoft is desparate in the best possible way. Thanks for challenging us to read more carefully!
  • was about to write the same thing down :) only I was going to suggest to replace desperate with "eager" :D
  • Yo, idiot....you need to learn to read before giving others grief! The other person was saying something positive about Microsoft!
    Remember, this is a global website with a myriad of people for whom English is not their first language.
  • It's what for I like this community.
    No racism, immaturity only technology in our blood. That's great.
  • Ok!
  • Use your words wisely friend! I used the word correctly. Remember it doesnt matter how much YOU like windows phone, the market is led by android and iOS. And accept that Windows 10 could be MS's last chance. So whatever they are doing they are doing it desparately to survive!! And i think that in itself is a good thing, that they realise this now.
  • Though this will benefit all Windows 10 devices as MS will survive with or without the phone os.
  • Actually, it's more about acknowledging the reality of the situation. If converting iOS games helps to create a bridge for potential customers that are either ignorant about other products or blinded by salesman BS, then why not? It's business as usual.
  • This is just the second of four "bridges." To my mind, the most important bridge is the one we've heard the least about: The one that will let win32 programs port to store apps. Then we can get "real" programs running on future Surface phones.
  • Personally I was quite interested in the Bridge for web sites; could make integrating certain features easier even on older web apps. Honestly, if they get them working well, they are all great. Still unsure whether they are enough though.
  • Um looking at it from a universal apps perspective, it is a great addition for the MANY people that will now be running Windows 10.  And they already have access to limitless programs via traditional desktop applications. As big as iOS is, it pales in comparison to the draw of the Windows 10 ecosystem (desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, XBox, etc)
  • Waits for new facebook apps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Whoa, huge news! Can someone wink wink nudge nudge recompile an app themselves? Asking for a friend.
  • If you have the source, why wouldn't you be able to?
  • This isn't something where you can take an app as the file that gets put on your phone and it spits out a file that can be put onto the Windows store. You have to submit the source code and then potentially make a few suggested changes and compile it yourself, then submit it to the Windows store.
  • +1
  • Deep down inside, I know this but, I was really hoping it wasn't Think of all the missing apps I can make my own versions at home and drop them on my phone
  • That would sort of be possible (although still illegal) Lets say you want to do that, you would have to get the file, and decompile it (not the easiest thing to do, but for iOS you can pretty much guess what compiler is used for it) You would then submit the code, get the translated code back and make the needed changes. Then (I forget exactly what it is in WM10, developer mode maybe) shwitch your phone to allow side loaded apps and I think you can install like 20 without issue. Don't quote me on any of the numbers, I'm working from memory on something I don't plan on doing lol. Also, depending on the app, you would likely run into some issues. Snapchat, for instance, I'm sure you could get the app to load on your phone, but who know what would happen if they analyze the user data (I assume they send your phone information somewhere in their app) and see this. They seem to hate Windows phone enough that they might even sue someone for reverse engineering their app, even if you're doing it for your own use.   TL:DR You can do it, but I wouldn't do it and it's probably not worth the effort.
  • You'd be looking at intellectual property lawsuits that would drive you into bankruptcy.  You can't just port somebody's app without their permission.
  • So, if I could.... find a copy of the Bank of America app for iOS, convert it to Windows Phone, install it on MY phone (not for public use), and use it like I used when we used to have it. And you think they would sue one person for one app ? Let them go for it ! Bring it on...
  • I'm not a lawyer, so I can't cite what specific laws you would be breaking, but somehow I doubt it would just be a company sueing you if you access their banking system in a way that they did not intend for you to do so. A company like BoA also has a legal team that they are paying regardless if they go to court or not. So I don't think it would be a large jump for them to send even an intern attourney out after a person if it was in their best interest. All in all, it's just plain not a good idea, plus it sounds like you don't really know what's involved in the process, so you're not going to get it working anyway.
  • Right, it was an example, I am not a lawyer and not really a dev by any means,  Still, if this could be done it would be cool but, the ODS of me getting access to the current source code for the BOA iOS app, is almost (for sake of this discussion, it IS) impossable anyway. I do understand enough to say (again it would be a discussion), the only way you can convert from a iOS app to a WIndows phone app is by using the souce code. As for big companies, sure not a good idea by any means but, if it could at a private level (not passing out to anyone, just for personal use). They would not get a big legal team to come after one user, You'll get a stop letter and if you dont stop, then legal action. I dont even see that for 1 person unless I am trying to HACK their system in a way. Still for disucssion sake, it cant happen anyway, so it would be nice for a quick way to get a few apps that we need so bad.
  • If it was that easy everyone would do it now wouldn't they? Marketing hype doesn't always match reality i.e. this is not a just add water and an app will bake itself type of situation.
  • This will fill the store.
  • Absolutely NO DOUBT!!! With quality apps!!
  • With quality apps that look exactly like and function exactly like iOS apps with zero effort from the developer to even give it a native interface.
  • Better than nothing my friend... Better than nothing...
  • I really doubt developers won't give it a facelift at least interface wise because iOS design is clearly just that... iOS design... They'd obviously get bashed but games however can just literally port cuz games are games. They can do wtvr UI design and menu design they want Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • No, thats not how this works at all, do some research before running your mouth about things you dont know. You whine about this everytime its brought up and youve never even published an app, nobody cares if you think this requires zero effort on the part of the app developer, thats such a pathetic line of thought that shows how little you actually know. Quit giving ACTUAL Windows Developers a bad name with your shitty attitude.
  • I think he is basically stating that devs will be lazy and not make there apps have that Windows flare. Its like getting leftovers. Not to mention the trash talking from Android and iOS users regarding Windows having to get their sloppy seconds. I do not believe every dev will be guilty of this but some will just take the easy road. IOS and androids interface is hella boring so I hope they try to port with effort. Posted via.........deez nutz!!!!!!
  • I hope I don't accidentally buy one of your apps. You sound like an absolute weapon
  • ZackTheWhatever is a total jerk. I wish he'd soon vanish and disappear.
  • A great deal of those ACTUAL developers totally deserve that kind of attitude ( I mean metro and WP ones) for not optimising their software and updating once a year. And you my friend should be more careful with your offensive language because unlike your natural habitat there are some civilised people here and they are not used to that "style of conversation".
  • So you're saying they shouldn't use this bridge at all? That's the impression I'm getting from your post. Personally, as a software engineer who occasionally dables in app development, here's my thoughts on this; If I was an independent developer considering developing for Windows, I would use the bridge to port my apps over, in order to gauge interest before fully diving in. If I was a major developer, lets say Amazon or Snapchat, I would use the bridge to port apps over quickly (ideally to beat competition, while mitigating the initial investment in regards to time), then slowly migrate to native code over time (this is just how companies work, they don't like starting from scratch unless they feel they really need to).
  • He always cries about this tool whenever news is posted about it, he claims its because Microsoft is harming developers like him by doing this and that people who use it are lazy and less valuable than people like him... despite not having actually produced an app himself, hes just some whiny punk kid
  • Agreed. He always posts that he's a developer, and has published apps, and is so offended by this or that. And yet, whenever someone calls him out on it, and asks for the names of (and links to) the apps he supposedly made, he never responds. Like when he posted that he was going to publish his Windows 10 compatible apps the day the new store was available, yet again the names of these apps never showed up.
  • To be fair, if I were him I wouldn't post the names of my apps here either (or anywhere on the Internet, for that matter), given the type of trolling that happens online, I'd fear that people would write fake reviews that trashed the app. It's a smart move maintaining a disconnect between his identity here and his identity as a developer.
  • Seriously, give it up. You're not any better than the next person because you develop only for Windows Phone. The developer puts plenty of effort to learn a language and develop his or her idea and support it. Not to mention the fact thatyou're making a hyperbolic assumption that every developer that uses this will automatically just keep the interface exactly the same. 
  • Exactly! Some apps (especially more "intensive" games) rely on highly complex code. Porting an app, at least as a starter, allows developers to gauge interest (and potentially make revenue), prior to investing the time and resources into building a native app in a language the dev(s) may not be familiar with.
  • Come on man, I would at least expect freaking banks do port their iOS apps and post windows/mobile app links on their websites in first place..forget about game apps!!
  • Banks, brokerage firms, etc., are extra catious about security. Even after porting, they will want to test it a ton and that costs $$$. The apps that port first, will be the smaller apps--those that dont care as much about testing--those that say "why not...it cant hurt to have our app exposed to another 80MM phones with minimal extra effort/cost, even if it isnt working perfectly" Apps with security concerns or companies that dont want to tarnish their reputation with a potentially untested/imperfect app will not join this bandwagon immediately. They will wait to see how others are faring with the new tech and if it works as flawlessly as we hope. Remember that developers are cost centers for most companies. This bridge significantly reduces the size of the cost center for Windows. But it doesnt eradicate it unfortunately. This new tech will definately have a positive impact on the number and quality of apps. However, we will still need to see a mass adoption of WP before companies will grow their windows development/testing teams.
  • I understand your feelings as a native Windows developer. But look at it this way. If iOS devs and Android devs port there apps to Windows and because of that adoption for Windows 10 Mobile picks up and the entire user base starts to grow, wouldn't that mean that you can sell your apps to a bigger consumer base as well? Try to look at it from the bright side. And thanks for supporting WP, its devs like you that kept this platform afloat for this long! You deserve some recognition and respect for that!
  • You again.... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Apps sure ok what ever .. but Games do not matter as all the games across all the platforms currently look exactly the same due to them rolling their own interfaces with sprites. soooo personally I dont give 2 shits if it looks like iOS I use a lumia 1520 and iphone 6 plus damn near daily and I could careless as long as its functional. Now port Clash of Clans to friggen WINDOWS 10!!!!
  • Hopefully, Microsoft will build the tools so that developers can convert apps as live tiles which will make them look 1000 times better than some dead looking icon.
  • From what I recall, they mentioned at build that the ported apps could "quickly" integrate native functionality, such as Live Tiles and Cortana. It will still require work on the developers side, of course.
  • One analytics company released a report a year or so ago stating that over 60% of the apps on the App Store has not been downloaded a single time. Apple users like to talk about how the Windows and WP store is junk because most of the apps are just web wrappers. Opening the App Store on my iPod, 14 of the top 20 free apps on the App Store are wrappers around web sites. Apple and Android have the numbers, but every app being high quality and in abundance is just a fallacy that they like to put out there that is simply not true. There are some quality apps that are available on iOS/Android that would be nice to see on Win/WP, but the supposed "app gap" is just made up. Of course, the difference in number of apps between the OSX store and apps available for Windows (about 60,000 vs. 16+ million) - that doesn't matter
  • Not even a single time? Man, if you can't even get your own mother to try out your app, it's probably time to quit.
  • People are looking at me for laughing like an idiot. Can't get your mom to download the app. Priceless  
  • Even skilled developers complain about this on iOS and Android. There are so many apps it's hard to get noticed. Most people aren't going to spend hours scouring through apps, installing, trying, and hoping to find one they like. Most people are going to use whatever is most popular at the time and call it a day. If you're just outside of the popular list, tough luck. Windows doesn't have this problem for the most part, although it will happen eventually. But in the meantime the first movers on Windows will definitely have a leg up.
  • @nohone - the app gap could be 2 or a million, it doesn't matter if its the apps people want/need. The app gap is more about missing the apps people want than the actual amount of apps available.
  • No, the story is whatever is most convient at the time to make it look like Apple has a win over Microsoft. A couple years ago the argument was that WP was horrible because it did not have a Facebook app. At the same time, those same people were saying WP was horrible because a majority of the apps are web wrappers. What is Facebook other than a web page. They don't scale for web use on a phone, but it is still a web app. The same argument is repeated over and over again - WP sucks because it doesn't have app X. So WP gets app X. WP sucks because they don't get any original apps. So WP gets some original apps. WP sucks because they are all web wrappers. People show off non-web wrapped apps on their WP. Go back to step 1, WP sucks because it doesn't have app X. This same cycle repeats over and over, and none of the arguments stick. WP has some of the same apps as iOS/Android, not all, but it is getting there. WP has web wrapper apps, so does iOS/Android. If those web wrappers are not there, then they complain, if they are there, they complain while ignoring their plethora of web wrappers. They ignore WP exclusive apps, while claiming that there are none, but when then claim that every app that is only on WP is complete junk while never actually using a WP, and then claim that every app on iOS/Android is the most wonderful, beautiful app ever written. Not only that, but there are many, many apps that are available on Windows that are not available on iOS/Android. I am currently running Visual Studio on my SP3. Can you do heavy-duty C++ dev on iOS? Android? To me, those are critical apps that are not available for the Apple nor Google offerings but somehow those apps don't count.
  • @nohone - WP has always lacked certain apps that had high profile/used a lot.
    Regardless of reasons that's the case.
    I think you should give up on WP because going by your reasoning, it will never be successful, it will always be something else. So your time and effort is probably best placed somewhere else. Not meant as a snide comment, just a fact.
    I personally still hold out hope (rightly or wrongly) based on initiatives like the bridges.
  • There are two apps I use on my iPod that are not available on WP. If they never make it to WP/Win10, it will not be some horrible catastrophe, I will live. I think you are completely reading my comment - why would I want to leave WP because iOS/Android fanboys keep moving the goal posts on what is and is not good for a store?
  • @nohone - as for dev apps, not sure why your talking about tablets now.
    The majority of people don't need to run those on tablets or laptops either.
    It's still about having the apps that are used/required by the masses.
    I use eclipse, doesn't mean I think everyone else should or does. It only matters to a small percentage compared to the people that use tablets/laptops.
  • Because this article is not about phones. It is about Windows 10 and iOS. It specifically talks about how ARM is not supported, which means for now this is about Win10, which is desktop/laptop/tablet. It seems like you are one of the people who are trying to set the restrictions on what it means to have a good number of apps. Windows has the apps that are used/required by the masses. It has had the apps that has driven people to buy Windows computers for the past 30+ years, in a nearly 10:1 ratio over Mac. And today, with iPad sales sliding to new lows, Windows tablets growing providing compatibility with the apps that people required and used for decades. And with this porting tool, it will add a million more.
  • @nohone, you sound like someone who hasn't spent a lot of time using either Android or its devices. I'm an MS Fan boy and used WP for many years. After I switched to Android, I realized very quickly that the app gap is very real. It's not just that too many apps are missing from the WP store, it's that the quality of the apps on Android and iOS is so much better than the WP equivalent, and the updates to fix issues are so much more frequent. This news, and particularly the ARM part is huge for WP users.
  • @nohone - Errrm.... The article wasn't about phones but the comment that I replied to was all about phones unless you mean something else when you kept saying wp?
    Windows has applications, it's app store hasn't done that well so far though.
    I'm not setting any restrictions, I'm saying that what you need isn't what the majority need, if that was the case then ipads and androids wouldn't have been able to be as successful as they have been. The same way that for most people a pad is adequate where for you and your relatively fringe case it's not.
  • "The supposed app gap is just made up" You are either extremely high, or in denial. 
  • Yeah the "app gap" is real and will keep the platform obscure (or doom it) if Win 10 Universal apps don't pan out. Simple as that.
     
  • Yep, ignore everything I wrote and focus on one part. Go back to iMore.
  • Could you give me a link to that report if possible...? I would like to throw it at a few people's faces please.
  • Not the phone store yet though - doesn't support ARM processors yet...
  • Yeah, but it'll probably support them "later this fall".
  • Yet but it is a start ;)
  • Hey you guys think I should install windows 10 preview on my Lumia 1520? Thought I would ask...also we getting all the good apps ;-)
  • Yea, right....that will have to be seen. The store lacks some major apps because they Devs dont think Windows Phone is worthy in sales volumes for the apps. Then the other side of it, sure they will make a Windows Phone app but, use the iOS app with very little modificition, so it will run like the iOS version, say bye bye to metro. Sure it can be good but, it can be bad too..
  • Being a developer means you are also running a business so you have to be able to adapt to changes in the market and fight the competition. Unfortunately a lot of developers think of themselves as coders first and not businesses first.
  • Hope that infinity blade comes to windows 10 mobile
  • It would be so awesome.
  • Didn't that come out on X-Box? But I doubt that will go on Windows. That's is an ios exclusive app lol Posted via the Windows Central App on my Lumia 640 or using the Android Version which is free*
  • Wait, what only PC and no Arm processors for phones? .. I mean I hope it's available soon. Sooner than W10M relase would sound better for devs and users I guess.
  • Windows 10 is out, and has a bright future. Windows 10 Mobile is not and doesn't, so...priorities.
  • Yeah I came to this conclusion too ;) makes sense.
    Just hoping it would be out soon enough so the developers can take advantage of the time before Windows Mobile is out, so basically users would feel better with all those new apps in the Store on day 1 :)
  • "Why the bridge is NOT a port" READ THAT PART EVERYONE PLEASE. Thanks.
  • Where? Can't find it.
  • http://blogs.windows.com/buildingapps/2015/08/06/windows-bridge-for-ios-...
  • Come on Warner bros port your games!
  • NOW the Apps will begin to flood the gates.