Microsoft Discusses How it Makes Android Apps

Posted on June 20, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Microsoft, Mobile with 4 Comments

Microsoft Android teams around the world.

An interesting Microsoft post on Medium discusses the firm creates and publishes apps for the Android mobile platform.

“Microsoft is one of the leading publishers in the Google Play Store, producing many apps that are used by people across the world, from all backgrounds, every day to help them achieve more,” Microsoft’s Cesar Valiente explains. “Currently, Microsoft has more than 150 apps published by different teams in the Google Play Store, with around 70 in active development receiving frequent updates.”

Valiente also provides some interesting statistics: 5 of Microsoft’s apps in the Google Play Store have over 500 million downloads and 9 have over 100 million downloads. The average rating of its apps is 4.2 stars (out of 5), and on apps with over 1 million downloads, the average rating goes up to 4.33 stars.

There’s a lot of data in the post, but what I was most interested in was how Microsoft creates its Android apps.

As you would expect, most use Java to create Android apps, but with Kotlin on the rise, many are switching to this newer language. (At a high-level, Kotlin is to Java on Android as Swift is to Objective-C on iOS.) Some are even using C++ for “code-sharing,” which I assume means with desktop apps.

For developer frameworks, Valiente points to React Native and Xamarin.

“For instance, Skype has many parts already written using React Native but also uses Java, as well as C++ for hardware related shared code,” he writes. “Microsoft News is an app fully written in Xamarin.”

And yes, many teams use GitHub for source code storage and maintenance, while others use Azure DevOps. For internal distribution, Microsoft uses App Center almost exclusively.

From a technology perspective, all of Microsoft’s Android apps provide both Microsoft Account and Azure AD authentication with single sign-on capabilities, many support multiple accounts, and some support Intune’s app protection policies.

Interesting stuff. Be sure to check out the original post for more.

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Comments (4)

4 responses to “Microsoft Discusses How it Makes Android Apps”

  1. eric_rasmussen

    I'm curious why they don't leverage Xamarin more than they do.

  2. bill_russell

    i've been using kotlin and I'd be suprised that anyone would restrict themselves just to java-only these days.

  3. Rob_Wade

    If only Android apps weren't just generally garbage to begin with, this might be interesting. And Microsoft is no better at it than anyone else. I absolutely hate their Office apps on Android compared to Windows.

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