Making apps for multiple platforms isn't going to get any easier says Steven Sinofsky, the former head of the Windows division at Microsoft.
In his latest blog post, Sinofsky gives an in-depth look at the reasons why developers are having an increasingly difficult time picking the mobile operating system they will develop on.
And this is especially interesting coming from an ex-Microsoft employee since Windows Phones and Windows 8 tablets are often criticized for not having an app selection that's as robust as what you can get on iPhone, iPad, or Android.
According to Sinofsky, there are several factors to consider when choosing between working on an Apple iOS or Android version first.
Most important among these are the development tools available, how each platform handles user interaction, and the level of OS integration the app developers wants to have access to.
If your team is most proficient with working on Apple's platforms, that's a huge reason to push for making your app on iOS first. But if you want to make your app capable of using voice commands without a data connection, Android is likely a better option for now.
If you only need to be able to access photos taken on the device, you could probably go with both, but you still need to make the apps look like they were made with their platform in mind. For example, an iPhone app with buttons that look like they're from an Android app would feel rather out of place.
As each platform tries to become more distinct from the others, the software that's out there to make apps for multiple platforms at once becomes less helpful. Sinofsky says that these factors together essentially force companies to have different teams for each platform they want to make apps for. That only makes their job more difficult, because they have to make sure each app gets the same features despite being coded by completely different people working with different constraints.
This isn't as much of a problem for Android and iOS as it is for smaller platforms. When choosing between the Google and Apple's offerings, it's more a matter of "Which should we do first?" than "Should we make it at all?"
The same can't be said for Blackberry and Windows Phone, who share the same problems with Android and iOS but have so few users that many developers don't think it's worth it to dedicate teams to their platforms, which is reflected in the number of apps available on their app stores.
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