150 apps and billions of installs: the lessons Microsoft has learned in developing for Android

What you need to know

  • Microsoft released data and insights about its apps on Android.
  • Microsoft's Android applications have logged billions of downloads.
  • Teams working on different projects use a variety of approaches to improve their projects.

Microsoft is one of the leading developers of applications on the Android platform, and they've released information about their approach to app development. A new article titled "Hello, world!" outlines how Microsoft uses different styles, methodologies, and approaches to create their applications.

New figures illustrate how far Microsoft has come when it comes to creating apps on Android. Microsoft has over 150 apps in the Google Play Store, with 70 actively in development. Nine of their apps have over 100 million downloads, and five of them have over 500 million downloads. There was once a point where Microsoft felt closed off to outside companies and platforms, but that's certainly not the case today.

The article shares some interesting insights on how Microsoft has spread its development around the globe and how they adapt to different situations using a variety of tools and team approaches. Android apps are developed by Microsoft at fifteen sites around the world.

Microsoft uses Kotlin, C++, Xamarin, React Native, and Java to create apps. They also use a variety of tools like Azure DevOps, FLOSS, and Github to organize their projects.

Microsoft shifted its strategy regarding mobile development a few years ago and has fully embraced Android as well as iOS. Microsoft also announced a new Twitter account to stay up to date on the latest news about Microsoft on Android.

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Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • I want a pocketable Surface device running some version of Windows that can run Android apps seamlessly, and still run 32 apps when I need it to. If Microsoft has any brains they will beg Google to work with them on bringing Android apps to Windows.
  • STFU Bleached. Nobody cares about your broken record opinion, so save your breath before you even think about opening your nasty little cry baby, negative mouth.
  • What Win32 apps would you run on a phone? What Win32 apps are you running at all? Everything on Windows is antiquated or too heavy for a pocketable device. Win32 apps also won't be friendly on a small touchscreen. You are advocating for a totally pointless device. Another Microsoft boondoggle. They won't make that mistake again.
  • Lol.. Like I'm gonna read that. 😂😂😂 You seriously have issues, you troll
  • You can't answer a fair question. What good are Win32 apps on a small touchscreen? What Win32 apps are still relevant today outside enterprise?
  • I don't read your comments past the first line. I don't care to converse with you. When you stop commenting on my posts, and start ignoring me, everything will be fine. I've told you a million times I don't like you personally. The only answer you will ever get from me is "f$#k off troll"... Get real
  • No content, no ideas you can even begin to backup with rational thought.
  • Considering Microsoft is larger company than Google and considering Microsoft Azure Cloud is the fastest growing cloud infrastructure in the world and only second to Amazon Web Services, it is safe to say you are deluded. You can fanboy Google and hate Microsoft all you want, but that doesn't change the reality that Microsoft is not going anywhere anytime soon. They're the most valuable company in the world by stock market valuation, way past Google. And they have good relationship with Amazon, unlike Google that has been picking up fights with everyone recently. Combined with the fact Google got caught for their obvious censorship on YouTube and Google search + incoming anti-trust lawsuits, they are the ones who are facing existential threat. Microsoft and Amazon not so much.
  • I honestly think the first thing people would do is buy a keyboard, if it didn't come with one, typing is so much easier on a proper keyboard (even if it's a lot smaller than a desktop), a nice folding keyboard on this portable device, would make it a lot more interesting, touchscreens are helpful, but this would presumably be a device used for real computing applications, not just media consumption or gaming, the moment you do anything serious, a keyboard becomes almost essential, thus the main failings of win32 on a tablet become moot.
  • I'm running lots of win32 apps and my phone is more powerful than most of the devices they were written on, it's not at all pointless or impossible, but you could argue the surface go provides most of that, just wish there was a reliable android emulator available.
  • You know bleached, some of us actually know how to use Photoshop, Premiere and other powerful desktop applications. You can stick with your cheap Android toy which is made for dummies.
  • That would only be a good idea, if developers of said apps allowed their apps to scalable to all screen sizes. Although, I'm curious to know what Android apps you would want on PC, outside of social site and messaging apps. Maybe, some light games. Other than that, many of them would not be very useful on PC. I could be wrong, but I don't really see a point, when you have apps like Dell connect that can mirror your Android phone and you can open any app you want on your PC.
  • Hey, man. Chill for a minute. Lol. Baby steps. We can't get apps on windows, yet you're already over her shouting demands. Lol. 😂 What apps would I want? All of them! That would become my main device, so I could ditch the cluster that is Android. Remember, I said "pocketable"
  • Switch to Apple if you want everything the same. Microsoft will never succeed with the Apple strategy. They will never do it better than Apple. If that is what you want, just buy a Mac and iPhone. They are really nice. Android is a cluster. That is what makes it strong. "Together, not the same."
  • Your brain is an even worse cluster. Lol
  • Never used a Mac for any length of time and I get frustrated whenever I do. Everyone I know who has one loves it though and would never even consider a non-Mac. They certainly integrate well with an iPhone. Not for me, but if you want uniformity, they can't be beat.
  • You never owned any device 2012, or higher, so what do you know?... Your opinion is crap, and worst we've heard your same crap 1 million times. Give us a break, and go make enemies on Android Central.. Or, are you too scared to tell them about your cheapo Android phone your mom bought you? That's sad. You should be glad you even have one, you selfish troll.
  • I didn't say I didn't own Macs. I said I don't use them. Our household has a non-touchbar MacBook Pro and a Mac Mini. They are great machines, I just have no experience with the operating system and it works nothing like Windows.
  • Homeless shelter doesn't count as a household. Please
  • Attacks. No content.
  • You'll never gwt any from me. I don't care to talk with you, and I never will, so stop trying. I know it hurts your feelings, but just ignore me. If you don't, then you're just arguing with yourself. Get a life.
  • You just have no argument, hence the lack of content. Still stuck on a dead idea that Microsoft moved away from years ago.
  • Android is a buggy mess. The whole platform and its apps are so poorly and inefficiently coded and designed that it uses over twice more RAM to achieve the same thing as iOS. Spotify on Windows 10 uses 150MB RAM while on Android it uses 300MB just as an example. Android is a buggy mess and memory hog.
  • Google doesn't do forks. See Amazon fire. Best that can be hoped for, is that more companies gather outside the google tent, and the collection of non-google API dependent apps, and PWA's grow. I honestly think Microsoft's own store is competitive with amazons app collection. Amazon has 400k, and I'm sure MSFT store has at least that, likely a lot more. I mean maybe it would help, a little. They might as well promote PWA instead. The more PWA grows, the less platform is an issue for basic needs. Probably what they will actually do, is release the larger variants of WCOS first. A go, a dual screen etc. Try and push into UWP, and PWA some more. Before they release andromeda later down the track. There's work to do, getting more people onboard with scalable UI. That said, MSFT should release more of their OWN apps as PWAs at least, if not UWPs. Win32 on edge is understandable, same with the new xbox app, but like google, with PWA, they should set an example.
  • Well, yeah. I gotta agree with that too.
  • PWA is a Trojan Horse for ChromeOS. The more apps released as PWA, the more sense Chromebooks make. Microsoft switching to PWA would be an admission that their own platforms are not the future. Amazon sells way more tablets than Microsoft and likely significantly more than all Windows tablets combined. They have done just fine with an Android fork.
  • I haven't seen Windows tablets in years so obviously Amazon will sell more tablets.
  • I'm all into the "our services run anywhere" approach as long as MS is as eager/zealous to release apps and services for their own bloody platform... especially for Windows Lite whenever it's released. What coding tools they use is not as important as just using some platform that is available for distribution on the MS Store, something they will be committed to maintaining. Otherwise what is Win Lite good for? A glorified browser? We have that in Chromebook already.
  • They better release some UWPs or PWAs for WCOS. At the very least, Andromeda will need it.
  • I would love to move from Android to a Windows device so that everything can work seamlessly on my phone, PC,, Tablet, Xbox etc.. Like IOS. I want to be able to easily send files, videos, pictures from my phone to my PC, Tablet etc.. That's what I want from Microsoft.
  • @Montpbm. Just curious, why "That's what I want from Microsoft"? You've already pointed out what you want already exists on iOS so why don't you just use Apple products and their ecosystem? Is there a particular preference you have for Microsoft, or just want your data/apps to work across multiple platforms. As I said, just curious.
  • Thank you, and you are 100% correct.
  • MacOO is definitely a mess, but so too is Nadella's MS. I've moved my business to Android and Google products. At least I can trust them more than MS.
  • You do realize that you can quite happily use Apple’s ecosystem on a Windows PC, right? All you need is iCloud. I have used Windows exclusively, used Apple exclusively and used a mix. I find that Microsoft is extremely accommodating to Apple (and Google) and as such, using iPhones or Android powered phones allows a level of seamless flow that Microsoft could never quite achieve with Windows Phone. For instance, I was just reading this article in Edge on my Samsung Note8. Battery started dying so switched to my iPhone to continue the article. Guess what? It wasn’t even in the Edge browser history on the iPhone. Both Safari and Chrome would have had it.
  • Because I want to use Microsoft not Apple. I had an iPhone and sold it, never again will I use Apple products. I think they're overpriced and overrated. Windows is a much better OS IMO, I don't like Apples closed minded ways and OS.
  • Yes, but MS has made it inconvenient if not impossible to follow them. Nadella is leading MS to irrelevance.
  • The very fact that you “want to use Microsoft not Apple” is fair enough and completely satisfies my curiosity. Many thanks. I thought there was a technical reason that might have helped me in my quest for total seamlessness between all my varied devices and my Surface running Windows 10.
  • Why not one drive ???
  • Use Google services and Android. They integrate just fine with a PC, especially if you use Google Voice. Making and answering calls seamlessly is a great feature. Not to mention Google Photos is unbeatable, YouTube is great, and music is covered including a music locker. Really no reason to keep Microsoft services in 2019.
  • I would rather die then use any service / product from Google.
  • Google Photos and other services are unbeatable in digging through all your data and selling them to highest bidders. Google fanboys are typically very naive people. YouTube great? Maybe at censorship. Project Veritas exposed Google very well and I hope they burn in the upcoming anti-trust lawsuit.
  • Now if they'd just fill in the gaps as in a Dialer, Txt app (just acquire Textra), Contacts manager, Maps etc, so I could stop doing this half Microsoft/half everyone else App dance.
  • Why would you use Microsoft apps at all?
  • I don't, any more. MS has lost trust.
  • That type of zeal and passion would have been great for their own mobile platform.
  • Maybe. But their own mobile platform was not selling. It's hard to have zeal and passion for a failing product.
  • So MS learned some lessons. What lessons did they, that is Nadella, not learn? Basically that for a fraction of their loss of credibility they could have converted the appropriate apps to W8.1. Such a screw up.
  • "Microsoft has over 150 apps in the Google Play Store, with 70 actively in development." So over 80 have been abandoned?