Video: ‘Project Astoria’, Microsoft’s Android app porting tool, at work

Nate Swanner - May 1, 2015, 10:20 am CDT
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Video: ‘Project Astoria’, Microsoft’s Android app porting tool, at work

Microsoft’s Project Astoria, their system for taking existing Android app code and running it inside windows, is both exciting and troubling. On one hand, it satisfies the ‘write once deploy everywhere’ strategy that makes a Developer’s life easier. On the other hand, these apps aren’t really native for the platform, which has us wondering about things like performance. Also, how easy is it for Developers to move an app over? Now we know; Microsoft has created a simple video outlining Project Astoria’s strengths, and I have to say — I’m intrigued.


As she did on-stage at Build, Microsoft’s Group Program Manager Agnieszka Girling walks us through an Android app running on a Windows Phone. Using what they call ‘bridges’, an Android app can be ported to Windows with minimal work. Really.

Porting the app even brings suggestions for code changes to make it run better on the Windows Phone, as well as tools for linking to Microsoft services.

Microsoft even lets Developers keep (some) Google Play services active when they port an app over to Windows via APIs. It’s all pretty interesting, and potentially awesome for both users and Developers — but questions remain.

Sounds cool, and Girling promises it can be used for just about anything from simple mobile apps to more robust experiences. But here’s the problem: I don’t recognize the apps they’re using. At all. I can’t even find them on Google Play.

That’s not some sort of “I’m behind the curve on app knowledge” complaint; what I’m saying is Microsoft isn’t porting popular apps we use day-to-day. They apparently haven’t approached large app studios ahead of launch to partner with them on this project of theirs, so we don’t know how apps we actually use on a daily basis will work on Windows Phone via this porting method.

The execution seems simple enough for simple apps. I’m just not satisfied this isn’t emulation, which could mean terrible performance, which nobody wants to see.


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