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Israel-based TabTale is a world leader in children’s mobile entertainment and education and has repeatedly been featured among the Top 10 on Apple’s iOS global publisher rankings. Serving over 25 million active users globally each month, TabTale recently expanded its proprietary cross platform development engine to support Windows 8 across PCs, phones, and tablets. With titles such as Paint Sparkles, Baby DressUp, and several others, now available on the Windows Stores, TabTale intends to further solidify its leadership position. I caught up with Eran Heres, Vice President of R&D Technologies at TabTale, to discuss their latest focus on Windows and their cross-platform approach.
“I think Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are a great fit… because the platform lends itself to an easy and intuitive user experience.”
We primarily develop interactive, educational apps for kids, so we focus on creating a simple and natural user experience so all kids can immerse themselves in a creative learning experience and not worry about how to navigate the app. Parents, who ultimately decide whether to download, or buy our app for their kids, find us credible because we focus on content and ease of use. I think Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are great fit from that point of view because the platform lends itself to an easy and intuitive user experience; it also enjoys high credibility across various demographic groups, especially the ones we are targeting.
Our co-founder and CEO, Sagi Schliesser, recently summarized our decision to develop for Windows very succinctly, “Our unique cross platform publishing technology has helped place us alongside industry leaders like Electronic Arts, Rovio, and Disney. Working with the Windows 8 platform not only supports the organic growth of TabTale’s ever growing library of top-rated apps, but supporting Microsoft will also allow us to reach a wide audience of people who want access to rich, interactive content on their Windows 8 devices.”
While having our apps on the Windows platforms will help us further solidify our leadership position, the ongoing innovation from the Windows teams makes now a great time to invest in the platform.
“The Visual Studio IDE is very intuitive, so the development experience has been smooth and much easier than working in Eclipse or Xcode."
Our proprietary platform is a multi-platform engine that compiles for several operating systems, which reduces our go-to-market time. Integrating support for Windows on our cross platform engine was extremely simple: we had already published our apps to Android and iOS, so in order to publish to Windows, we just ported our SDK from C++ to Objective C. Further, we took our existing C++ code and built the project structure in Visual Studio and compiled it. We had to migrate the differences that are only relevant to Windows 8. Uploading to the Windows platform and store is a little different, so we used the Windows 8 offline certification to help us to minimize rejections.
On the lower level of the platform, we had specific iOS and Android extensions, so we built Windows-specific extensions as well. Now, we turn on the appropriate extensions for the platform for which we are developing. For instance, we develop in C# for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Once we have compiled the code and built the extensions, we can run C++ apps on this platform. The Visual Studio IDE is very intuitive, so the development experience has been smooth and much easier than working in Eclipse or Xcode.
Also, our proprietary platform allows us to rapidly scale up and we are scheduled to release at least two apps a week across platforms. Kids get bored easily, and they look for new adventures, so we offer them fresh, exciting, and engaging content regularly. To date, we have released more than 250 apps. We currently have 13 of those in the Windows store and have scheduled more for release, but quality has to take precedence over quantity.
“[Online documentation and sample code] are great resources that helped launch us into the Windows world, and they can do the same for you.”
Windows is a very promising platform. We are so happy to bring our successful apps to Windows’ global audiences. Focus on providing your users high-quality content and making your apps easy to use. And check out the documentation and sample code provided online by the Windows Phone and Windows teams; those are great resources that helped launch us into the Windows world, and they can do the same for you.
MEMO: FULL SCREEN ON SCREEN SIZE LARGER THAT 7" is ANNOYING, especially with hidden app bar.. Metro or whatever that name is a very poor UI. Take for instance the Weather app. Why is it that Microsoft decided to hide the app/commands bar by default. The weather app opens in full screen mode and the app/command bar is hidden. You are staring at this full screen thing that takes over your entire window and you feel trapped. How in the world is a user supposed to know to swipe down or up to show the app/command bar or for a desktop user to right-clicked to display the app bar. Truly unbelievable. If this isn't the dumbest thing that I've seen, I don't know what else to say. So Microsoft expects that each time an app opens in full screen mode, users should swipe down up or down or right-clicked to show an app bar that might or might not be there. Users have to memorize which apps have a hidden app bar and which do not by always perfuming these gestures. Imagine if MS Word opens and the toolbar is hidden by default and you require the user to right-clicked to exposed the app bar. Now Microsoft is talking about "WINDOWED" Metro app... why didn't you do this in the first place. So if we have "windowed" metro app and the weather app opens in a window, a user has to right=clicked just to display the commands to change the city. I don't know what MS was thinking, but in their quest to chase iOS...the went all in with this full screen monstrosity (which really only make sense on small tablets and phone) with hiding app menu that should be visible in the first place. Even in WP the app bar stays visible and user do not have to go thru all kinds of gestures just to display the app bar. This same thing applies to the Metro IE. Tabs are hidden by default...blah blah blah. No wonder ppl prefer the Desktop IE. Also, please stop the Metro Picture viewer from trying to open my picture in FULL SCREEN...very annoying. SMH