Venture Village: "Apportable: Wooga’s secret Android shortcut"

Cross-posted from VentureVillage

As the app economy rises, so do companies that make developers’ lives easier – and Apportable, which helped Berlin’s Wooga with its latest social game Jelly Splash, is ready to ride that trend.

Apportable, based in San Francisco, employs about 50 people and is supported by a $2.4m seed funding round led by Google Ventures. It makes software to automate the process of turning an iOS app into an Android app. Code in Objective-C, the main language used by Apple for iOS, make a few minor adjustments and get two functional apps. Need new features? Change the code just once. (For a more detailed explanation, try this blog post or this demo video.)

Clients so far include Björk (for her Biophilia app album), the company behind “galactic mote” game Osmos and Wooga, which used it to build the Android app for Jelly Splash, now at 15 million downloads across all platforms since August 2013.

“Jelly Splash is our broadest and most rapid cross-platform release yet,” the company said in a blog post at launch. “That means that we’ve used a few speed boosts to get the game to you as soon as possible.”

Normally, Wooga Corporate Development Manager Sebastian Kriese explained, new games would be built by separate teams for iOS and Android. With new games built and tested for iOS first, Android would usually be several steps behind. “Even now with Diamond Dash, it’s still a different feature set on Android,” Kriese said.

“We also had issues and challenges about how the game would feel on different platforms. If you use another technology and another team you might not achieve the same quality or the same feeling.”

So, after hearing about Apportable, they asked for a quick prototype to see if it’d be an alternative way to bring Jelly Splash to Android. “It was pretty amazing,” Kriese said. “We had the iOS game and three days later we could play almost all levels on an Android phone. It wasn’t perfect but it was already working pretty well.”

Wooga sent two engineers and Kriese as project manager to San Francisco to work with Apportable and produced a final version from “zero to launch” in eight weeks, speeding up the process “by a factor of months”.

The service comes for a price – Apportable offers a free basic service and either $1000 or $15,000 per developer per year for “indie” and “pro” licenses. Enterprise clients such as Wooga pay on a case by case basis and get extra features and support.

It’s the time to market that matters for Wooga, Kriese said. “In China, 95 per cent of the smartphones are Android. If we want to grow in these regions, we have to go all out on Android and bring games out as soon as possible.”

It will be up to individual teams at Wooga whether they use Apportable for new projects. Other companies working in a similar space include Unity, which uses a different method to bring apps to iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10.

Pocket Gamer: "Breaking down barries: iOS devs launching Objective-C games on Android"

Cross posted from Pocket Gamer Biz

More iOS developers than ever are taking Objective-C based games across to Android, with cross-platform solution Apportable claiming its breaking down traditional dev barriers.

The Apportable platform gives developers the ability to convert iOS games to Android automatically, without extensive changes to the original Objective-C or C++ code.

It works by cross-compiling Objective-C code for iOS to machine code that runs directly on an Android device's processor.

Freedom, speed, and performance

It's an approach that affords Apportable the freedom to optimise complex applications for speed and performance that rival the iOS version and outdo equivalent Java versions.

Recent partners include Pocket Gems, with the firm having launched Animal Voyage: Island Adventure simultaneously on iOS and Android.

"The Apportable platform is so far ahead and so much more complete than anything we've ever seen," said Pocket Gems engineer Jeff DeCew, before adding that Apportable "is improving at a rate faster than we can adopt" on the development side.

No sacrifices

Indeed, DeCew believes that through the use of Apportable, Pocket Gems has been able to ensure the quality of its products on all fronts. 

"One of the things we were worried about was the possibility that working on Android would slow down and inhibit iOS development," explained DeCew.

"We've had to make very few compromises on the iOS side to make our game great on both platforms.

"With the help of Apportable, Pocket Gems is free to focus on creating and improving the gameplay experience instead of rewriting code for Android."

WSJ: "Bjork Brings Biophilia to Android With a Little Help From Apportable"

Cross posted from WSJ

Music and design icon Björk spent two years creating her 11th record, Biophilia, as an “app album” — songs in app form, games, and educational content that can get users involved so they’re not just passively listening.

Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin
Icelandic singer Björk.

Though critically acclaimed, there was one major problem with the Biophilia app–Björk fans using Android mobile devices couldn’t experience it. Until today.

The artist finally released an Android version of Biophilia (for $12.99 in the U.S. Google Play store) Wednesday, two years after its iOS release.  So what took so long?

According to Max Weisel, one of the developers of the original Biophilia app for iOS, “Porting Biophilia to a new platform was a daunting task,” because it is a “large suite,” not just a simple, casual game.

The app makes music physical and accessible to kids and fans, by mapping basic musicology on a touchscreen, Björk told Venture Capital Dispatch. “Rhythm, scales, counterpoint, chords, arpeggios and such–I felt in my own music school this was too academic, like reading a book about how to ride a bicycle, instead of doing it. Music is to be felt and experienced.”

In 2011, developers advised the artist that the cost to convert her app-album to Android and Windows operating systems would be about 375,000 U.K. pounds, or enough to commission eight programmers for five months. She started acrowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the money, but cancelled it after 10 days and a sluggish reception there.

Still, she felt it was “absolutely vital to make it available for all smartphones, because of the educational aspects of Biophilia.” Her app helps teach “basic musicology and science,” where “art programs have been cut down,” she said. Many schools that use Biophilia and its extra, free curriculum for educators don’t have access to iPads, she noted.

Enter Apportable Inc., a San Francisco startup that automates the process of turning an iOS app into an Android app. One of the company’s engineers, Zac Bowling, reached out to Mr. Weisel to see if Apportable could help.  Using Apportable, Mr. Weisel says, he was able to “translate” one of the song-apps on Biophilia to Android, in less than an hour with minimal effort.

Here’s how Apportable makes converting apps a faster and less costly process, according to the startup’s chief executive, Collin Jackson: “We package a mini version of [Apple’s] iOS in with an Android installer, so an application thinks it is running on iOS but is really running on Android instead.”

Courtesy of Apportable Inc.
From left to right, Collin Jackson and Ian Fischer of Apportable Inc.

This week Apportable announced it had raised $2.4 million in seed funding from Google Ventures, with participation by individual angel investors including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and several others, as Dow Jones VentureWire previously reported.

The CEO says that more than half of the apps made using its technology ranked in the Top 500 paid apps on Google Play, a dominant Android app store in North America.

For the near term, Apportable plans to focus just on automating the conversion of an iOS app to Android. It could move into conversion of apps between other platforms in the future, the CEO said.

An investor in Apportable, Alexis Ohanian, believes Apportable will help bring about “software parity” in the mobile industry.

“We haven’t seen the same quality in Android app stores that we have seen in the Apple App Store so far,” he said. “That’s because a lot of startups and studios don’t have the resources to think about multiple platforms from the start. But if you look at the install numbers, there’s no denying how important Android users are.”

Björk has no plans to start a tech company, or fund tech startups herself. “Creating Biophilia has been plenty,” she said.