Saturday, February 27, 2016

Halting Android Windows Bridge (Astoria) makes sense!

I know most of the people who follow Microsoft closely were elated when they announced Project Astoria in BUILD conference, a Windows Bridge for porting Android apps. That meant that the app gap will finally be covered as developers would find it easy to bring their apps to Windows (Phone) Platform. Microsoft even went ahead and set core of Windows 10 Mobile to run Android apps via side-loading!

But then it happened, Microsoft slowly back tracked the progress of this specific bridge and remained tight lipped for what seemed to be a very long time until recently. They removed the core components of Android subsystems with newer builds and I think that was because it had significant impact on performance the OS. I had always wondered how Microsoft could bring Android apps without the well known problem of Android, performance!
Then again the iOS bridge (Islandwood) looks much more promising as the quality of apps available in iOS Store is very good and also the apps tend to be more optimized than their Android counterparts. I suspect this is due to the fact that Apple still uses 1GB of RAM in iPhones, forcing app developers to build efficient apps with lighter footprint which results in the smooth OS functioning in iPhones. Windows phones aren’t much different to them either, it is just for a couple of years we are seeing Windows phones running with a gig of RAM, before that WP8 could run very smoothly even in 512 MB RAM. Windows Phone has been a hallmark of fluid performance.
1 GB RAM has become the base of Windows (phones) devices as Microsoft clearly stated this by releasing their cheapest offerings, Lumia 43x and 532 with the amount of RAM which was only available in flagships two generations ago. So yes optimized apps with good quality is what all Windows 10 needs to reach new heights, the iOS bridge provides just that opportunity. While we see Android phones get beefier in specs to provide a smooth experience, it is good to see Microsoft working on making their software work better rather than pushing the hardware, after all Microsoft is known for their software.
Here is the official statement:
We also announced the Windows Bridge for Android (project “Astoria”) at Build last year, and some of you have asked about its status. We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing. We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs. For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions.
I’m not a developer and I don’t know how much work goes while porting an app from iOS to Windows but Microsoft’s continual efforts are interesting and beneficial to a developer to have an Universal App which will run across devices carrying the Windows moniker like PC,Phone,XBOX, HoloLens and IOT devices. We are already seeing a good amount of first party apps joining the UWP and hopefully once the platform gains ground in a year or two we will see even more developer interest which will directly benefit to Windows phone’s app situation.

Do you think Microsoft did the right think to drop Android Bridge and put more efforts into iOS and Win32 Bridges?

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