Boston Mobile App Developer Xamarian Acquired
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Published on February 29, 2016
A technology firm that was founded in Boston and creates tools that help mobile application developers has been acquired by Microsoft. Xamarian makes software tools that are used by the creators of mobile applications that run on smart phones. Their software enables independent application developers to translate their applications between Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone mobile platforms. This allows developers to create applications for one platform and then transfer it to the others with reduced effort, avoiding the need to re-create the application for each type of phone because the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone devices each use their own operating system. Because the creators of smart phone applications need to provide a separate version of their apps for each of these devices, written using different programming languages, a translation tool saves a great deal of time, effort, and expense.
The Xamarian tools ease the translation between the various languages and reduce the need to re-code the app and redesign the UX for each type of device. Xamarian’s software tools are used by those that create apps. The tools don’t design or create mobile apps, nor do they define the UX for apps themselves. Much like the maker of a hammer or saw doesn’t put up buildings themselves, they supply the carpenters who use these tools in construction. Similarly, Xamarian creates tools that are used by developers, but these are used in the construction of mobile applications. The Xamarian team has been more successful in providing tools for developers than alternatives such as PhoneGap, which was acquired by Adobe several years ago.
While Xamarian was founded in Boston and retains a development office in the city, much of their sales and business operations moved to the west coast to be closer to a large community of mobile developers in the Bay area. This move placed them closer to their core audience, and is one of many firms started in Boston that later relocated west.
The Microsoft acquisition isn’t surprising to many who design mobile apps, as Xamarian is one of the few players that can help translate apps for Microsoft’s mobile. While the number of Windows Phone devices in use barely register when compared to iPhone and Android devices, Microsoft is seeking to keep its developer tools relevant. To keep Microsoft Visual Studio as a popular tool for legacy developers, they need to add capabilities that allow developers who create apps for Microsoft’s Windows to also create them for the more widely used iOS and Android. This acquisition helps Microsoft provide better services for their core developer audience, and shows that Microsoft is working towards expand their developer tools to enable the creation of apps on more than their own Windows platform.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.