Xamarin adds Java: What does this mean?

DevToolsGuy / Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In 2012’s The Avengers, an unparalleled force of Marvel superheroes come together to save humanity from enslavement by an alien army. Replacing the tight-fitting spandex of old with shiny armor and a big, green CGI machine; these superheroes are powerful alone, and even more powerful when united. What ensues are a myriad of acrobatic stunts, impressive explosions and cheesy one-liners. While it’s arguable that the film lacks an immersive (or any kind) of plot, one thing we can be certain of is that by combining the strengths of different forces, you can forge something even more powerful.

And, would you believe it, the exact same thing has happened recently with mobile app development using C# and Java! We’ll admit this is one of our more extreme tangents, but hear us out. Xamarin recently acquired RoboVM to form the latest hero/sidekick duo, and that has big implications for mobile app development.

As you probably know, Xamarin is a platform that allows developers to build apps for Windows, Android, iOS and Apple Mac in C#. Without Xamarin, you’d have to develop your apps for these different systems in completely different programming languages; now you can do it all in one go with just a few system-specific tweaks at the end. RoboVM - a Swedish startup founded in 2013 - does much the same thing, but lets you write your code in Java. Java is probably the most popular languages for building enterprise mobile apps, with C# close behind. Now that both platforms are in the Xamarin family, you’ll be able to save the world from bad apps, or at the very least, avenge them.

Why is this so significant?

Xamarin hardly needed to make efforts to expand – the Californian firm is going through massive expansion and rumors of a Microsoft acquisition have been doing the rounds. Nonetheless, bringing RoboVM and Java into the family is a very smart move which will bring Xamarin’s services to even more developers.

To begin with, developers probably won’t notice too much difference – the acquisition was only announced towards the end of October. However, going forward it will affect a lot of app developers. If you currently build apps in Java and don’t already use RoboVM, you’ll be delighted by the possibilities that instant, cross-platform development present. And if you’ve been using RoboVM for a while, you can expect a lot of benefits from this merger in the coming months. It’s likely we’ll start seeing more support for Java in Xamarin’s University, you’ll get access to features like their awesome test cloud as well as insights into how your apps are working in real time. 

What does it mean for companies?

Many businesses today are looking to build company apps – whether that’s for internal users or for customers to download. Unless your users are all running the same operating system, you’re likely to run into a lot of frustration when it comes to development. Each OS requires apps to be written in different programming languages. Xamarin cuts back a lot of that pain by allowing developers to create apps for all the major platforms in one go. Easy.

Inc. dubbed Java as the most popular language for app development, being used universally  among professionals. While C# is great, less pros are experienced with Microsoft’s language of choice (although they’re both pretty similar). Since you can now build cross-platform apps with both tools, it’s going to make things easier for you to build and run apps fast, and will save time hunting down developers with the right skills on your projects.

What does it mean for your clients and customers?

With Java and C# letting you build apps faster, you can get the finished product to your client sooner. If you previously used Java for app development, you’ll soon be able to use things like Xamarin’s test cloud to see what your app looks like on hundreds of different devices in the cloud. This means you’ll be able to find UX and UI issues faster and at a far lower cost than traditional testing. Nice!

And what can we expect in future?

We only see the number of developers using Xamarin’s services growing. With strong backing from Microsoft, Xamarin is already set to expand fast, and by opening up their services to millions of Java-loving app developers, they’re surely a force to be reckoned with in the world of app development. We’re excited to see how popular Xamarin is across the community and look forward to seeing more developers working smarter and faster.

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