Why I chose iOS and Windows 8 development over Android

Apple-MicrosoftAndroid is hot from a device sales perspective -- 550,000 activations per day. However, even though apps for Android phones are surging in the marketplace, it does not yet appear that the same is true for Android tablets. As popular as Android is, it is my personal opinion that iOS and Windows 8 should be the focus of future development.

The sheer popularity of iOS and the beauty of Apple's hardware make iOS a prime candidate for app development. I'm not saying developers shouldn't target Android at all, but I believe iOS and Windows 8 offer (or will offer) the best user experiences going forward.

I see three compelling reasons why iOS and Windows 8 should be the focus going forward.

1. The number of users in both the iOS and Windows Ecosystems. 220 million is a lot of iOS devices and 1 billion is a colossal number of Windows users. Apple has a phone that is clearly very popular and Android has a phone that is more popular but at this time does not have a popular tablet device and this puts Apple squarely ahead in terms of development priorities. For example, during second quarter, Motorola only sold 440,000 XOOMs, and it's considered to be one of the hottest Android tablets. By comparison, Apple sold 9.25 million iPads. For this reason alone, I feel it is better to focus one's attention on iOS devices.

But what about Windows 8? Microsoft already is firmly implanted in the desktop OS game and with Windows 7 effectively put to rest any potential competition. Microsoft has sold more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses in less than two years. This leads the way for Windows 8 to have a huge impact out of the gate.

2. Openness of Development in Windows 8. There's no mistaking that Microsoft's development tools (issues aside) are really easy to use. Also, I believe Microsoft does a pretty dang good job of creating lots of documentation and sample code. The fact that Microsoft's core development tools are free for web and mobile development makes it really easy for devs to get into the ecosystem.

The Windows 8 demo in June revealed that Microsoft is going to allow some apps for the OS to be developed using the widely known HTML5 and JavaScript programming languages. Regardless of how you feel about this move, the reality is that it opens up Windows development to an entirely new group of developers (like yours truly) who may not know C#, VB.NET or C++ all that well, to develop Windows applications.

The implications of this are huge. I understand that we will know a lot more in September at Microsoft's BUILD conference, but I find it quite intriguing the number of applications this will open up. Imagine a touch-based app that runs on a kiosk and how easy it would be to create such an app that pulls its data from an online data source. That's just one of the applications that I find compelling because it would not be too difficult to create.

The company I work for is very much interested in writing apps for iOS, Android and Windows. However, the two platforms that are talked about the most among the developers on my team are Windows and iOS. Microsoft is clearly onto something with Windows 8.

3. Silverlight. When it comes to software development I love working in Silverlight. The tools that UX guys like myself would use to create the interfaces of Silverlight applications are a cinch to use and allow us to push the limits of our imagination. I find it much easier to work with a Silverlight developer than I do an iOS developer because Microsoft's tools make it so easy to create compelling user experiences.

Silverlight is a platform that in my opinion should not be compared with Flash. For years Flash was used primarily as an animation tool but has expanded into a content delivery and software development tool. Silverlight should be looked at mostly as a software development tool although I find it to be a very competitive content delivery tool as well (Netflix anyone?).

Conclusion

The ease of use with Microsoft's tools and the popularity of iOS, in my opinion make these two platforms a high priority for applications development going forward. What do you think? Am I crazy? Do you think iOS and Android are the choices going forward? Should we even be considering Windows apps?

Robert Johnson is a user interface developer specializing in the user experience (UX) of .NET-based web applications. He has been working in some form of web development and graphic design for 14 years. He loves technology in general, particularly that of Apple, Google and Microsoft. He is a Betanews reader.

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