Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Windows Phone 8 or 7 Which to Write For?

I have written quite a few Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Apps.  Somewhere over 20 of them.  They were great fun to write.  Some of them you might have even heard of such as Border Wait Times.  I've seen some success too.  However that was then and this is now.  I have struggled with when to start writing apps that only worked on Windows Phone 8 (WP8).  I am by nature a bit risk averse.  Not completely but somewhat and I hesitated to leave behind all the WP7ers because anything you publish using the WP8 SDK will ONLY run on WP8.  I kept thinking to myself, "what about all those WP7 people that might want my app.  It would truly suck to be them.  I've finally come to the conclusion that it's not as catastrophic as I had believed.

Windows Phone OS Share

There are now way more Windows Phone 8 devices out there than Windows Phone 7.  Thanks to Nokia's blitz of phones in all price ranges from the Nokia Lumia 1020 super phone to the little bitty Lumia 520 which they almost give away, almost 70% of WP out there are 8.  A company out there called AdDuplex does a pretty good job of estimating how many phones of what type are out there.  This blog from October graphs it pretty nicely (http://blog.adduplex.com/2013/10/adduplex-windows-phone-statistics.html)  I might add that of the Windows Phone Device manufacturers out there, it seems that it sucks if you are anybody but Nokia with 89.2% of the WP8 market.  Also remember that while Windows Phone market share is growing, it's still not all that high.  So a small piece of an already small pie means that you aren't really leaving that many behind by doing dedicated WP8 apps.

Stuff You Can Do

There is also the phones and their capabilities.  You can do WAY more cool things with the WP8 SDK than with the 7.  Things like downloadable maps and integration with HERE maps.  Lets not forget the Lens ability with the camera in WP8.  I started switching because of the need for maps.  I was creating an app which did some GPS functionality but through in a variometer for those that need to go up (way up) and down.  However, it seems when flying you might not get a data connection.  In that case WP7 maps are kinda useless.  Really dumb to have an app that while you are using it, there are no maps when you really NEED maps.

What You Need

There are SOME barriers to WP8 development that don't seem to be commonly talked about.  You need to have a either a Windows Phone 8 or a computer that is capable of running the Hyper-V based WP8 emulator on Windows 8.  Any older computer you can pretty much forget about.  The computer must be one of the newer AMD chips or the i series of Intel processors that support SLAT virtualization.  No older machine can handle it and then you are out luck.  Fortunately there are lots of programs out there to help developers get devices.  I know in Canada we have Developer Movement (last year and looks like this year) as well as the worldwide Nokia DVLUP.com program.  Write Apps, get Stuff.  I love it.

How I did

Basically the apps for Windows Phone 8 have done just as well as anything I have done for WP7 as far as downloads go.  I don't know about monetization, that will have to come in a later blog.  Overall the benefits out way the negatives