Microsoft talked up the growth of its app ecosystem in line with the official launch of its Windows Phone 8 platform, with Joe Belfiore, corporate VP, stating that the company’s catalogue “has grown to 120,000 apps, and we continue to add hundreds of new apps every day”.
The new OS, which is set to be used in devices from HTC, Nokia, and Samsung, will also provide some additional features for developers, which are set to be used by several high-profile titles making their way to Windows Phone.
A significant step for developers is that the Windows Phone 8 SDK is now generally available, enabling the creation of apps targeting the latest version of the Microsoft OS.
The company has previously been criticised for only making it available to a limited number of developers, restricting the ability of others to bring products to market ahead of the launch of the first WP8 smartphones.
According to Belfiore, “for us to reinvent the smartphone experience around users, we essentially felt we had to reinvent what the app experience was like, and not limit it to being a grid of static icons”.
Supporting to this is the concept of Live Apps, which are able to send information to tiles on the devices’ home screen, to be more easily accessible by users. Live Apps can also send content to the lock screen of the device, for example with an updated Facebook able to power a photo display.
“Windows Phone 8 is the only mobile operating system that provides the facility for apps to do this in a standardised way, so users can do it with your choice of app, on any of our great Windows Phone 8 devices”, Belfiore said.
According to Belfiore, Microsoft has been “spending a lot of energy” on apps, taking it to the point where it will have 46 of the top 50 “most popular, heavily used” apps from other platforms available on Windows Phone. “That’s huge progress for us”, Belfiore said.
Among the titles on the way to Windows Phone 8 are Angry Birds, Draw Something and Words With Friends. Temple Run was highlighted as a game using the Unity game development engine, which is now being supported by Windows Phone, with Belfiore stating that “a lot of games written to Unity are coming”.
Providing a greater potential reach for developers, the number of languages supported by Windows Phone 8 has been doubled to 50, and the number of markets where its Windows Phone Store is available tripled to 191 countries. “A lot more people will be able to get Windows Phone and experience it in their native language or country,” Belfiore said.