Cross-platform development has presented a major challenge for most independent developers for many years. Quite often, it’s simply too much of an time and resource investment to learn a new programming language in order to port your app over to another platform.
For years, this fact of resource allocation is what has pushed many developers to primarily focus their efforts on iOS, due to the more lucrative market . Thanks to projects such as Xamarin , however, developers who are familiar with C# have been able to push their projects across iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile. But Android developers are most familiar with writing in Java, so using Xamarin would require a developer to familiarize themselves with a new language and build platform. We’ve covered one project aimed at bridging the gap between mobile operating systems by providing a cross-development platform for Java developers – Intel’s Multi-OS Engine – but there’s no telling where that project is headed. That’s where MechDome comes in.
MechDome is a start-up company based in California and incorporated in January that has developed a conversion tool to automatically create native iOS and OS X apps from your Android app. No need to learn how to use a new IDE or API. All you need to do is send an APK file to MechDome (no need to send them your source code), and the fully automated tool will compile a standalone binary in seconds for iOS and OS X that the developer can then distribute on Apple’s App Store. We sat down in an interview with MechDome’s founder and CEO, Mario Kosmiskas, to see a demonstration of the tool in action – and it works. Although there are some limitations due to fundamental differences between how iOS and Android operate (which we’ll discuss below), the tool has already produced a few live apps on the Apple App Store such as the open-source Reddit client RedReader and an open-source Sudoku client to prove it works.
Android Apps on iOS with MechDome
The stated goal of MechDome is to allow developers to convert an unmodified Android app into a native iOS or OS X app. Compared to technologies such as Intel’s Multi-OS Engine or Xamarin, an Android developer does not need to know how to bind an Objective-C library because the tool will handle that for you. Nor is there any need to use a UI builder to modify your Android app, as MechDome handles converting all Android UI elements. Yes, even Android tablet apps translate nicely into a format suitable for iPads.