Microsoft Ends Project Astoria, the Windows Phone "Bridge for Android" Apps

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2016 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: windows phone, Project Astoria, microsoft, developers, build 2015, Android

A smartphone is nothing without a large selection of quality apps these days, and to that end it seemed Microsoft was going to follow the BlackBerry OS 10 method (injecting life into a platform barren of software by borrowing Android apps) when they announced the "Windows Bridge for Android" last year.

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(Image credit: Microsoft)

Blackberry accomplished this by adding the Amazon app store to OS 10, which gave BB users at least some of the apps an Android user has access to via Google Play. BlackBerry also provided devs tools to help them convert Android apps to run on the BB 10 OS platform, but the market share of BB OS 10 just isn’t high enough to justify many doing this.

Microsoft appeared to be headed in this direction when they introduced Project Astoria at last year’s Build conference, which was going to enable devs to bring Android apps over to the Windows mobile OS. Well, that’s over. In an update published yesterday by Kevin Gallo, Microsoft’s Director of Windows Developer Platform, this news was spun positively (of course).

“We also announced the Windows Bridge for Android (project “Astoria”) at Build last year, and some of you have asked about its status. We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing. We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs. For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions.”

To editoralize here a bit, I will add that I own a Lumia smartphone, and in my experience Windows Phone is an innovative and extremely efficient mobile OS. However, the lack of quality apps (and the non-existent updates for those that do exist) is too great a barrier to use a Windows Phone as my primary device. It’s telling that BlackBerry's latest smartphone, the Priv, runs Android, as BlackBerry has effectively given up trying to compete with their own OS.

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BlackBerry Priv, which runs the Android 5 OS (image credit: BlackBerry)

Microsoft seems unwilling to do this, but they are a software company first and foremost and that's not surprising. But as a hardware company they have struggled with portable devices, as we saw with the ill-fated Kin smartphone, and of course the Zune music player. Android is the only realistic option if you want to compete with iOS on a smartphone, but Microsoft hasn't given up on the OS just yet. As much as I like the tiled interface, I think it's time to say goodbye to this iteration of Windows Mobile.

Source: Microsoft

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February 26, 2016 | 12:28 PM - Posted by Gunbuster

Makes sense to me, any decent app is going to be iOS and android so it would be a waste to support two bridges when the developer could just port their iOS version...

February 26, 2016 | 01:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What the hell is an app?

February 26, 2016 | 01:46 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

It's like an application, but they couldn't fit all of those letters on a smartphone screen. :p

February 26, 2016 | 02:58 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

MS just needs to give up on their Windows Phone or whatever they're calling their software for their phones now. Windows phones market share dropped by half last year to only 5 million sold worldwide. It's as done as Ben Carson's campaign. Stick a fork in it.

On a side note, I used a Windows phone for a few months awhile back waiting for the Nexus 5 to come out after I sold my Nexus 4. I honestly don't see how anyone can stand that os! Everything is blocked off or extremely hard to customize, and the app store and apps were deplorable.

February 26, 2016 | 04:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

what a load of crap..
i have used all three versions of smart phones.
"blocked off" " hard to customise" the man is either thick or in the pay of an android co.

i found that allthough android had more "apps", there were many that did the same thing.

who needs 25 versions of "skype" under a different name

"blocked off"... tried apple

i repaeat what i said at the begining

February 26, 2016 | 05:14 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Yeah, get back to me when you can run a custom rom and have access to oh I don't know, a quarter of the needed apps that are available on Android. Until then, enjoy your little Fisher-Price phone experience, lol. You obviously have no idea what I meant by customizing.

February 26, 2016 | 03:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

why would you ever wish for them to abandon it ?
what's wrong with being the 5% market share underdog ?
some people like it, i know i do ...
i use it for about a year and a half, used iOS before it and also have a nexus 7 2013 android tablet

i'm not a power user, and don't need many apps
when comparing the 3 mobile OS for phone use, to me WP makes by far the most sense:
everything i need is nicely organized in informative live tiles on the start screen

recently installed WP10 insider, and am very happy with it:
it has many good integrated basic apps (small things like a flashlight, countdown timer, ...), an extended quick-action center, and feels like a step up from WP8.1
also, i probably use maybe around five extra apps:
bank, password, whatsapp ...

i use my phone mainly as a private and work phone + calendar, mail, text, browsing, and camera... personally, that's all i need and it fits perfectly well on the start screen

on a side note: i don't care for mobile games because i prefer gaming on a PC

February 27, 2016 | 02:07 AM - Posted by -- (not verified)

glad to know, that is exactly what I use my phone for as well.

used all the others, just wanting something new and wp10 looked cool.

February 26, 2016 | 04:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I was all gung-ho for WIndows phone. Used it for a month. Bought a Moto X Pure and gave the windows phone to my infant daughter to drool on.

Too little, too late. I feel like the only way for Microsoft to succeed in the phone arena was to use their brute force Xbox method. It's too late for that now, however. They half-assed it and it's game over.

February 27, 2016 | 11:34 AM - Posted by btdog

About 6 months ago I purchased the Lumia 635. I was tired of Android and I refuse to buy Apple. I got the Lumia 635 because it was the only phone available with Sprint - even then, only one store in the area carried it. And when I told the salesclerk I wanted to get it, "why?" was his response.

I explained my reasons but he persisted, describing a bleak future and warning me that I would have to pay FULL PRICE "when" (not "if," but when) I wanted to get a different phone because I would be so unhappy. The phone was onsale: $50 with a $50 rebate. Full price, the phone was $165. Of course, he was trying to sell me a $700 phone, that only cost $250 upfront.

I tell this story because when people look at the sales figures and bemoan how awful the phone is doing, I'm not surprised in the least. First, it's basically been yanked from store shelves. Second, as my encounter shows, the sales team is actively discouraging people from buying it, literally pressuring people NOT to buy it.

Like Michaud said, the most frustrating part is not the lack of apps, but apps that work - most have been abandoned so they either no longer work, or are hobbled and partially work. And why on Earth does it perform a monthly emergency test?! No other phone I've owned has done this. And it doesn't test just once. NO, it tests numerous times that day with no rhyme or reason as to when it's going to go off.

Luckily, I am not married to my phone and I only need it to do a few things, of which I was able to find "workable" apps to cover my needs. And as much as I hated Metro on the PC, it makes perfect sense on a phone. I actually prefer it to the icon-riddled screens of Android and iOS. And the battery life is unbelievable, I can easily go two days without charging where I would have to plug in my Android by lunch time or it would die before I got off work.

And if I see someone else with a Windows phone, I'll ask them how they like it. The answer is always the same: "I love it, but the app situation stinks."

There are rumors that Microsoft plans to rebrand the phone to a Surface phone in hopes they can attract the loyal base they developed there. I hope they do. As many things as it has going against it, I still enjoy my Lumia 635.

February 29, 2016 | 09:01 AM - Posted by Gunbuster

My Lumia 640 is great. I know they would get death look from the other manufacturers and erode the luxury handset $700 market but Microsoft should be trumpeting from the rooftops "Lumia 640 $30" over and over again. Heck the 650 should be $50 straight up.

THIRTY DOLLAR PHONE! That's less than a big family order of Chinese carry out!

February 28, 2016 | 06:55 PM - Posted by A__k (not verified)

^ Couldn't agree more. Great hardware and OS. App situation stinks indeed. Very apparent after switching from an iPhone to my Lumia 1020. Still, o365 integration is best I've used on Lumia.

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