Could Android be a Cross-Platform Mobile App Development environment ?

Adobe AIR, Microsoft Silverlight and Sun JavaFX are all vying to be the next generation cross-platform development environment (for both Desktop and Mobile) – going beyond just language, libraries to full fledged application development frameworks. Apple, of course thinks cross-platform is running on Mac and iPhone 🙂

Meanwhile for Mobile App development, could Android solve that problem ?

I had been playing with Google Android SDK and it seems nice and simple (I for one dig simplicity, my favourite quote being “simplicity is the result of profound thought”). Of course, the documentation could improve a lot, the APIs need to stabilize and the emulator needs to get faster. Most of all, there have to be real phones that can run Android.

But because of its simplicity, I’m wondering if it would be easy to automatically port Android applications to other platforms like iPhone & its clones and Nokia smartphones. What if there was a converter that could take Android projects and convert them to iPhone SDK projects – likely even direct source code translations ?

I think everyone agrees Mobile platforms (called smartphones today) will be the mainstream (in numbers) computers of tomorrow. And many software developers are jumping on board to develop innovative applications. But there are quickly beginning to be too many Mobile App platforms. In spite of iPhone’s success, its unclear what will be prime platform of tomorrow. Hence a developer has to be ready to target multiple platforms in order to be successful.

The Apple iPhone SDK in true Apple-style forces you to learn Objective-C, have a Mac, use Xcode – all adding to the learning curve. Though I’m an Apple-fan and also comfortable with dealing with new languages, this combined hurdle is annoying me – not sure how many others share my opinion. Nokia of course has its own Symbian OS and app frameworks. There are also other frameworks like OpenMoko, etc and the above mentioned JavaFX, Flash.

Instead of a developer having to port their application manually to different platforms, why not leverage Android as a Cross-Platform Mobile App Development environment ? Unlike massive platforms like .NET, Android is a much smaller because of its narrower Mobile focus. Even .NET was ported to Linux by the Mono team. So, it should be possible to have it running on other platforms like iPhone. I’m wondering if even a source code translation would be possible to take Android applications (.APK projects including XML, Class files) and convert them to iPhone source code or Nokia Symbian source code.

Perhaps there are better ways. But my key need is – take my Android app and convert it into a native iPhone App. If such a platform was available, I’d use it immediately – I dont know about others. 🙂

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