When Written: Aug 2013
Ask a group of people which is the best mobile phone and you will get a variety of answers, ask the same question in a pub and the result can become quite heated. Search the blogs and the reviews web sites and the picture doesn’t become any clearer. One thing that most agree on is that the availability of a good number of useful Apps is vitally important to the success of any smartphone. App availability is a bit of a chicken versus egg situation, nobody will buy a smartphone without apps and programmers are not going to write apps for a smartphone that nobody owns.
Manufacturers get around this by ‘seeding’ the app market place for their phone by writing their own apps or offering software houses encouragement to port their existing catalogue to the new phone. This will only get you so far though, so you need to provide a way for developers to write apps in an easy and preferably quick way which should encourage a wave of new apps and hence sales of phones. Now whilst the Windows Phone 8 lags someway behind Apple and Android it has been making some ground recently and most people admit, perhaps begrudgingly, that it is not a bad device.
However whilst there are a considerable number of apps for it, more are needed. The usual way to write these apps is with a copy of Visual Studio with the Windows Phone 8 SDK installed, and while the Express version of these tools are free they must run on Windows 8. However development is not the easiest process and Microsoft felt that a tool that enables simple apps to be created, perhaps as a ‘mock up’ of something more complex, would be useful, particularly if this tool was so easy to use that a non-programmer could build an app.
We can but dream, however whilst writing this article on a pad of Basildon Bond with my trusty Mont Blanc fountain pen sipping a fine Scottish malt a few evenings ago, news broke that such a development tool was released by Microsoft.
At last an easy way to build Windows Phone 8 Apps, but it is pretty limited currently
This tool is in the form of a web app and is so easy to use that I think anyone who uses the internet could produce their own Windows Phone 8 app in a few minutes. This app whilst it will run on your phone, probably will not make you a fortune nor impress anyone apart from kind family members, but it can be exported to Visual Studio for further development to enhance it further. All the sample projects are visually very similar and basically make a small catalogue app for various scenarios, but it does get you started and no doubt this range of apps will expand. So for now if you want to write a torchlight app you are on your own! Check the tool out at http://apps.windowsstore.com/default.htm it is best to use IE 10 as it is still beta but it does seem to also work fine in other browsers.
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton