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.