Microsoft looks to lure iPhone app developers to Windows Phone

While Apple has vaunted to a leadership position in mobile computing with its iPhone smartphone, Microsoft is looking to chip away at Apple’s dominance, releasing on Friday an API tool intended to help developers migrate iPhone applications to Windows Phone.

The company’s iPhone/iOS to Windows Phone 7 API mapping tool enables iPhone developers to take their applications, pick out iOS API calls and look for equivalent classes, methods, and notification events in Windows Phone 7, said Jean-Christophe Cimitiere, senior technical evangelist for interoperability at Microsoft, in a blog post. “Launched today, the iPhone/iOS to Windows Phone 7 API mapping tool helps developers find their way around when they discover the Windows Phone platform. Think of the API mapping tool as being like a translation dictionary.”

Developers can search a given iOS API call and find equivalent classes, methods, and notification events in Windows Phone 7 along with C# sample codes and API documentation for both platforms. “The code samples allow developers to quickly migrate short blobs of iOS code to the equivalent C# code. All WP7 API documentations are pulled in from the Silverlight, C# and XNA sources on MSDN,” Cimitiere said. Currently, API mappings are provided for network/Internet, user interface, and data management categories. “For this first round, we focused on identifying the one-to-one mapping when it exists. In the following versions we’ll expand the scope and anytime the concepts are similar enough, we’ll do our best to provide the appropriate guidance.”

Microsoft also is offering a “Windows Phone 7 Guide for iPhone Application Developers” white paper and developer videos pertaining to porting applications from iPhone to Windows Phone. The API mapping tool, white paper, and developers stories can be found at the company’s Windows Phone 7 Interoperability website, which was launched in December. Microsoft is planning similar guidance and tools pertaining to Google’s Android mobile platform, the other juggernaut facing Windows Phone 7.

“If you are a .Net developer, learning Windows Phone development is not really ‘change.’ Instead, it is more of a continuum, where you just add new features to what you already know,” Cimitiere said. “If you are an iPhone developer, new to Windows Phone (and .Net), yes this is different. But don’t worry. The learning curve is not as steep as you would imagine.”

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