As we have covered before, Microsoft seems really intent on supporting Android with the release of quality apps and various investments in Android related services. However, the latest news really helps seal the deal on what Microsoft’s intentions are: Microsoft has announced “Project Astoria”, a brand new technology that will convert existing Android applications into native Windows 10 apps. This is a technology that will ship on Windows 10, and will support Windows phones, tablets, and even the Xbox One. What does it all mean, though? Could Android apps really be usable on a computer? Let’s take a look!
Windows really seems to be going in an ambitious direction as of late, with decisions such as making Windows 10 a free update for existing Windows 7 and 8 users and the complete redesign of the user experience for desktop. The latest step in this direction is the announcement of Project Astoria, a brand new tool that will help Android developers port their existing Android apps into native Windows apps that should be able to run on any Windows 10 device. Apparently, Astoria will not only port the app, but also replace any dependencies that apps may have on Google Play services. Basically, making it so that Android apps are truly independent from Google.
Alongside Project Astoria, Microsoft has also announced Project Islandwood, which amounts to about the same thing, but for iOS apps. Microsoft will be providing tools for existing iOS developers to decouple their apps from the App Store and Apple Services, and bring them over to the Windows Store as if they were native apps developed for Windows to begin with. This all ties into the new Microsoft ideal of a “Universal Windows Platform”, basically a fancy way of declaring that no matter what language you are using, Microsoft will publish and support your apps on their store, and help convert things along for you. For developers, it most likely will not be as easy as pressing a button to convert the app, but it will certainly be easier than what the current situation is, and it will also take care of the services layer on the background for them. Pretty neat.
With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular and affordable, developers have definitely switched their focus from developing applications for the desktop, and instead developing for mobile devices. This is a trend that is in motion, and is very hard to break. Microsoft clearly thinks the same thing, and instead of trying to break that trend, they are embracing it, bringing mobile apps into their application ecosystem and treating them like first-class citizens. By providing developers with tools and support, they make that transition easier and more attractive to developers still on the fence. In the end, it’s sort of a win-win, but it all depends on how it actually works in the end. Microsoft seems pretty certain that their technology works, and already are opening up to interested developers to be early adopters right now, with the final release happening as soon as Windows 10 launches.
Well, what does this mean for you, though? Well, it means what you think it means: your favorite Android apps will likely make their way to your Windows-enabled desktop computer, laptop, tablet, phone or even console in the near future. Depending on how this is implemented, it might even be so that you can carry your data across devices, so that switching from, for example, WhatsApp on your Android phone to WhatsApp on your computer is automatic, and you have all the same conversations and text already available when you open the app, updating in real time. You might be able to use the same Twitter app across all of your devices, and carry on your conversations seamlessly from one another when you go from your phone to your laptop. You might be able to play the same games, and have your progress carry with you. The focus right now is on bringing mobile Android apps to Windows 10 phones, but there certainly are a ton of possibilities to this technology. Now, it’s up to Microsoft to prove that it works and pays off.