Build 2015: Android Apps on Windows, Sure. But How About … iOS Apps?

Posted on April 29, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0 Comments

Build 2015: Android Apps on Windows, Sure. But How About ... iOS Apps?

You might want to sit down for this one, folks. In addition to letting developers easily port their Android apps to Windows universal apps, Microsoft is likewise offering a similar capability for iOS apps for iPhone and iPad. And the way this happens is via a secret new project that’s been in the works for years. The best bit? You may already be running the first app ported from iOS.

I know. It’s crazy. But it’s true.

“This capability has been available for some time,” Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson told me this week in San Francisco. “King used it to bring Candy Crush Saga Windows Phone in late 2014. And that game has over 40,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5.”

According to Myerson, Microsoft has secretly developed an Objective C compiler for Visual Studio—my sources say its codenamed Project Islandwood, but Myerson wouldn’t corroborate that—and an SDK, or toolkit, that will import XCode projects into Visual Studio so that you can convert iOS apps into Windows universal apps.

Thematically this will work much like a similar effort to bring Android apps into the universal app platform. But Android is a much easier target than iOS, and Visual Studio already has an Android emulator built-in. Getting iOS apps on Windows is much more complicated. And it’s somewhat astonishing that Microsoft was able to accomplish this so secretly.

But as with Android interoperability, this too is just part of Microsoft’s broader goal to get Windows 10 on over one billion devices within 2-3 years.

“We want to provide the right bridges so that developers can leverage this universal app platform,” Myerson told me, “and that’s true with whatever code bases they may have. We will embrace these code bases and let you extend them and distribute them through the store. It’s the same approach we’ve had historically: do what it takes for customers to embrace Windows.”

Seriously. That is amazing.

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