Lots of companies think about developing mobile clients for their services for Widows Phone and Windows 8. In most cases mobile clients for iOS/Android have already been created and company’s objective is to port them to Windows mobile platforms. In this article I’d like to talk about questions/problems/peculiarities companies and developers can face porting their apps to WP and Win8.
What’s important to know about Modern UI interface?
Windows Phone and Windows 8, unlike iOS for instance, are authentically digital platforms. What it means can be easily explained on the example of a bookshelf for iOS, where human’s behavior while reading a magazine or a book is imitated from the real life – we go to the bookshelf, take a magazine, open it and flip it through. The same process for Windows Phone looks absolutely separated from the real life and is initially oriented to the digital world, where the concept of “bookshelf” is missing at all.
A second distinction from iOS/Android is an emphasis on content and action orientation. In Windows Phone and Windows 8 phone numbers and e-mail addresses are written in small fonts, while actions like “call” or” “send e-mail” in the big ones. Large fonts and shifts is another Metro feature. It should be definitely taken into account while designing interfaces.
Other peculiarities of the platforms
1) Mostly, Android is tied to Google eco-system, iOS – to Apple, Windows Phone and Windows 8 – to Microsoft eco-system accordingly. This can be both an advantage and a drawback. For example, it will be easier to work with office documents, but instead of tight integration with Dropbox you will be proposed to use SkyDrive.
2) Platform limitations. Windows Phone is a rather strict platform. There are clear limits for application start time, sizes of downloaded files depending on the kind of Internet connection, quantity of background operations etc. Due to such limitations even “native” for Windows Phone Skype doesn’t always work as it is expected from a proper messenger.
3) Specific requirements for Windows 8 scenarios. There are so called contracts in Windows 8 – Search, Share etc., with the help of which such scenarios as “search in application”, “repost smth in social networks” or “open the file in another application” are performed. It should be separately said about Settings and Share – in Windows 8 they should be only in the sidebar. Duplication of functionality inside the application is highly undesirable.
Navigation bar in Windows Phone and Windows 8 differ. Windows Phone has mostly linear navigation (non-linear navigation is allowed only in exceptional cases and thoroughly tested), while Windows 8 is more loyal to the navigation model. Moreover, you will have to think over the possibility of a quick access to the application main screens from any screen.
4) Windows Phone 7.5 vs. Widows Phone 8. You should remember that at the moment there are several main Windows Phone versions:
• Mango — Windows Phone 7.5 (512 MB of memory);
• Mango — Windows Phone 7.8 (512 MB of memory) — the update has not been released yet;
• Tango — Windows Phone 7.5 (256 MB of memory);
• Apollo — Windows Phone 8.
If you’ve decided to support 7.x platform, you need to think whether the application will support Tango devices (budget ones) that are more sensitive to the memory used by the applications. In case you need NFC or in-app purchases (IAP), you should straightway focus on Windows Phone 8.0 or support two versions of the application (7.x and 8.x).
Thanks for consideration. In case you have some thoughts to add on the topic or even have already ported some app from iOS/Android to WP or Win8, I’d be glad to see your comments here.
Nice article … I’m new to the whole programming side of things and yet thrown in the deep end. I need to get my head around porting IOS/Droid apps to Windows/Phone8. Other than the Win8 Dev center do you have any other suggestions to visit on the web for more information?