Apportable enables iOS apps to run on Android devices. Apportable’s platform, along with available conversion services, allow apps to be cross-compiled without extensive changes to the original codebase written in either Objective-C or C++. And not just simple apps. Björk, the famous Icelandic musician and actress, recently relied on Apportable to bring the complete Björk Biophilia multimedia experience to Android. The result was that ABC News named Biophilia for Android its App of the Week. Apportable, from YC W11, creates new opportunities for iOS developers by making porting to Android as easy as using an SDK.
Apple’s Objective-C Runtime, CoreFoundation, NeXTSTEP/OpenStep Foundation API, Cocos2D, and OpenAL-soft collectively form the core of Apportable. All of these frameworks are licensed under either APSL 2.0 or LGPLv3. Apportable also includes more than forty open source projects, making it possible to port almost any app to Android. Apps are built using a combination of both Xcode and Apportable’s command-line build system. An included BridgeKit framework allows developers to create calls between Objective-C and Java. There’s a collection of sample apps to help developers get started. And of course there’s tools for publishing Apportable apps on Google Play.
Apportable’s Customer Showcase primarily features games, which are typically complex tests of any platform’s capabilities and performance. Among those apps are Osmos, a game with unique physics-based play, detailed graphics, and hypnotic ambient electronica soundtrack. Osmos was written in Objective-C and extensively uses OpenAL for audio and GameKit for achievements and multiplayer. Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery is based on the Lua programming language and uses the device accelerometer. Kingdom Rush is another app brought to Android with Apportable. Cocos2d-iphone graphics engine makes games like Kingdom Rush possible. Apportable is the official sponsor of Cocos2d-iphone. All three of the apps – Osmos, Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery, Kingdom Rush – have received the Editor’s Choice Award on Google Play Appstore.
Multimedia apps of all types, not just games, can be brought from iOS to Android with Apportable, though. Björk Biophilia is a perfect example of the educational opportunities created by Apportable. Biophilia teaches about musicology, like rhythm, scales, counterpoint, chords, and arpeggios. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal about Apportable, Björk states that many students miss out on unique opportunities to learn simply because schools can’t afford high-end technology like iPads. Biophilia Educational Program is a companion site for the app, “designed to inspire children to explore their own creativity, and to learn about music and science through new technologies.” Sophisticated educational apps like Biophilia will now be available to low-cost Android users because of Apportable.
Apportable’s mission goes beyond iOS and Android. The goal is “to enable developers to quickly bring their applications to ANY mobile device, without compromising quality or performance.” The company recently raised $2.4 million dollars in seed funding to continue that mission. Investors include Google Ventures and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Mr. Ohanian states he believes Apportable will bring “software parity” in the mobile industry. “We haven’t seen the same quality in Android app stores that we have seen in the Apple App Store so far… That’s because a lot of startups and studios don’t have the resources to think about multiple platforms from the start.”
Making it possible to port every iOS app to Android won’t be easy, though. Apportable co-founder Collin Jackson states, “Mapping the surface area of iOS to Android is a large task. We are now working on making our technology easier to use and more complete. We’ve gotten great results so far.”