When Microsoft made its Windows 10 spiel last year, it made a commitment to help developers from other platforms carry their apps to Windows 10 with as little effort as possible. For that reason, it announced “bridges” between iOS and Android apps, the latter codenamed “Project Astoria”. While the iOS Bridge (“Project Islandwood”) has more or less been finalized, the Android bridge was left in limbo. Now, Microsoft is putting an end to the uncertainty and doubt. Project Astoria is officially dead and the bridge has been burned even before it was completed.
The idea was to provide a tool that can let app developers port their existing iOS or Android app with minimal or even no code changes. An initial demo seemed to show promise for the Android bridge but that has been the only positive sign of its existence. In contrast, Microsoft has been intensely promoting its iOS Bridge, even showing how an iOS app was made into a Windows 10 app in about 5 minutes. It does seem to remove a huge source of hesitation for developers, those on iOS at least.
It seems that once again the Android platform is getting the short end of the stick. Microsoft frames the decision to cease development of the Android bridge due to potential confusion for developers on which bridge to use. Because it is easy to confuse iOS and Android, Objective-C and Java.
In its stead, Microsoft is encouraging Android developers to instead look at the iOS Bridge and the newly acquired Xamarin as options for bringing their mobile app to Windows 10, neither of which are stand in replacements for what the Android Bridge was intended to do. The iOS Bridge, of course, revolves around the use of the Objective-C language and Apple’s API. On the other hand, Xamarin’s tools come from the other end of the bridge. It allows C# apps to be ported to Android and iOS, which means Windows 10 developers using that language need only write their apps once.
The decision might be a bit perplexing, but it is ultimately driven by business and resource management. If Microsoft had to choose where to fully invest its resources in, it would choose the iOS Bridge with little doubt. It’s hard to deny that there are more iOS-exclusive apps than Android ones and iOS developers are traditionally seen to be more resistant to getting their apps on other platforms. If there were a group of app developers that Microsoft desperately needed to woo, it would be them.