Windows programmers have a new way to create Android apps without Java.
Ansca Mobile on Tuesday plans to release a beta version of its Corona SDK mobile development framework for Microsoft Windows, thereby allowing Windows developers to create Android applications without the complexity of Java.
Corona SDK apps are written in Lua, a lightweight, easy-to-learn scripting language used in Adobe Lightroom and in many commercial games. The framework provides almost 500 APIs through which sophisticated, graphically-oriented apps, particularly though not exclusively 2D games, can be created.
Windows developers will be able to reuse their Android code to create mobile apps that run on iOS devices like Apple's iPhone, though completing an iOS app build requires the Mac OS version of Corona SDK and Apple hardware.
Ansca Mobile co-founder and CEO Walter Luh expects that the Windows version of Corona SDK will significantly expand the Corona developer community and help make mobile development more accessible.
As an indicator of just how accessible Corona SDK has made mobile development, consider Utah-based eight-grader Robert Nay, who used Ansca Mobile's software to create Bubble Ball, a game that recently was the most downloaded free iPhone app and has been downloaded over 5 million times.
Matthew Pringle, a developer based in the U.K., said in an e-mail that despite the limitations of the Windows version of Corona SDK -- specifically the need for a Mac version of the software and a Mac OS X computer to complete an iOS build -- he nonetheless sees value in bringing Windows programmers into the fold.
"Not all programmers are comfortable developing on a Mac," he said in an e-mail. "... [Corona SDK for Windows] allows teams to be built around the software and hardware they are most comfortable with."
Pringle says he's also encouraged by the growth of the Android platform. "I used to ignore it as a potential market given its complexities, but as Android matures and the manufacturers build ever more complex phones and tablets, I see a real advantage in being able to easily publish Android apps," he said.
Corona SDK has built a following of around 32,000 developers because it simplifies the creation of mobile app code that can be compiled for both iOS and Android devices. A variety of similar tools are available, including Appcelerator Titanium, Rhomobile Rhodes, PhoneGap, and Unity3D, though these products tend to appeal to different developer segments, such as enterprise mobile applications, 3D game designers, or developers who want to use Web technologies. Corona SDK is more like a leaner version of Adobe's Flash platform, meaning that it's particularly well-suited for 2D games, as well as graphically-oriented business applications and utilities.
Ansca Mobile also plans to introduce new subscription options. Corona SDK is free to download. Once developers are ready to publish their apps to Apple's iTunes App Store or Google's Android Market, they're required to purchase a subscription: a $199 per year "indie" subscription that can be either iOS-only or Android-only, or a $349 per year "pro" subscription for both iOS and Android builds.
Finally, Ansca Mobile is updating the Corona SDK with additional features including in-app purchase support for iOS, Asynchronous HTTP, Bitmask Masking, and additional physics engine capabilities.