Why multiplatform matters

Intel Developer Blog: A look at why a platform-spanning strategy from the off is key
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One of the key lessons I’ve learned from talking to developers is that many of them wished they had gone into their first apps with a clear strategy for expansion. Don’t, for example, hard-code your text content into the app because it’ll make it hard to translate into other languages, one said.

Make sure your graphics are easy to reskin and levels easy to edit, so you can create spin-off series and upgrade packs. The expansion strategy applies equally to different apps, countries and platforms.

When you’re creating your first lines of code, you might not have a clear vision of what the final app will become, but it pays to have a clear multiplatform strategy for every app you make. Here’s why:

• The more stores you’re in, the more sales you can make. If you can get your app onto different platforms and in their stores without too much rework or customisation, you can reap greater rewards from the initial investment you made in creating the app.

• The more stores you’re in, the more promotional opportunities you get. This one’s a bit more subtle, but every time someone sees your app in a store, it’s a brand impression that helps to build the app’s reputation and by extension, your own. If you’re in more stores, you have more opportunities to get exposure in editorial columns, and through the recommendation features.

• I find that most of the app recommendations I get today come from friends. Not all my friends use the same devices I do, but if I can download their suggested app on my favourite platform, I will.

• The faster you can get your app onto all the major platforms, the less likely you are to be squeezed out by competitors, or by rivals who steal your idea and port it onto platforms you’ve overlooked.

• An app that flops on one platform might be a huge success on another. There are so many factors at play, including the competition and promotional opportunities on each platform, and the make-up of its user base. Until you launch across the different platforms, it’s hard to know which one will be most successful for you app. A hit on one platform helps other platforms too, in part because of the network effect of friends recommending apps.

• Some people have more than one device, and will be happy to buy your app several times so they can use it on all their devices.

So how can you go multiplatform? One solution is to use HTML5. It enables you to have a single code base that works across almost every modern platform, including Android, Windows on Ultrabook and iOS. There are differences in how browsers have adopted and interpreted HTML5, but if you use a service like PhoneGap, you can create the experience of a native app without having to create dedicated code for each platform.

A new beta programme has begun for the Intel HTML5 Development Environment, which helps you to efficiently build HTML5 apps that run on multiple platforms and devices. It includes a preview mode, so you can test the app in your browser, but also has an emulator you can use to try out your app on different device types and screen sizes. It even includes a mouse-driven emulator for the accelerometer, so you can quickly iterate your code for the accelerometer before testing on a real device. If you’d like to take part in the beta, you can apply at Intel’s HTML5 community. Click the tools tab and then request access to the beta programme.

HTML5 isn’t the right solution for every app, but many apps can benefit from its portability. In a competitive world, a clear multiplatform strategy might just give you the edge.


This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominentplatforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.