April 24, 2014 1:28 pm

Nokia X opens the door to unprecedented opportunities

Both smartphone fans and app developers are excited about the potential – and the opportunity – presented by Nokia X. We asked long-time developer Alessandro LaRosa to share his insights about this unique platform.

When the Nokia X was presented during the 2014 Mobile World Congress, I was excited about the enormous opportunity that was laid in front of me – both as a smartphone user and as a developer.

As a user, I perceived some aspects of the Nokia X platform as potentially disruptive. Having redefined the level of interaction with Android, combined with a more intuitive user interface, means consumers that were accustomed to feature phones will now have a smartphone to call their own. To me, this breaks with convention, giving consumers easy access to apps, without overloading them with the unnecessary complexity that a typical smartphone platform may bring.

Of course, this is also one of the reasons why I’m enthusiastic as a developer. Having the possibility to reach whole new communities of users opens the door to new, unprecedented opportunities.

In this new video from Nokia Developer you can see the enthusiasm that came out of the recent Nokia X Bus porting tour:

[rpsb_youtube]http://youtu.be/2tD3zAZuTJQ[/rpsb_youtube]

Power and Simplicity combine forces

My initial impression was confirmed recently when I had the opportunity to use a Nokia X device on the Nokia X Porting Bus. I can summarize the key aspects of the platform in a few words: power and simplicity.

Power in the form of using the Android platform combined with Nokia services that guarantee a quality and reach beyond any competitor’s alternatives. For example, Nokia’s In-App Payment, which allows users to purchase content via carrier billing, especially in markets where no alternatives exist, is a huge win for users and developers.

But as I said, what really sets Nokia X apart is simplicity. Nokia did a great job bringing its experience with feature phones, and recreating the ease of interaction typical of those devices. In this sense, Nokia X is a perfect fit to fill the gap between easy-to-use, but less feature-rich devices, and high-end smartphones.

Ready to port to Nokia X

I was immediately interested in learning more about Nokia X, and how to port my apps to this platform. I found valuable and complete materials in the porting guides available in the Nokia Developer’s Library, where all the porting scenarios are covered in detail.

I also found useful tips and information shared during the webinars organized to cover each of the specific porting topics (recordings are available if you missed the live sessions). By using those two resources, the learning process was quite easy – easier than any other platform I’ve learned to use in the past.

nokiax_worldcup2014_350Porting your app to Nokia X typically involves two main steps. The first is to verify if the app uses certain Google services, and if so, to substitute those items with the corresponding Nokia features. This kind of process in most cases involves simple changes to the app’s code, thanks to the one-to-one feature and API mapping that is available, including: HERE Maps, Nokia Notifications and In-App Payment. Even class and method names are mapped, so that code changes are minimal, if there are any at all. Once you’re familiar with this, it literally takes minutes to port all those features of your app to Nokia X.

The second step is to check if the app requires any adaptation to follow the Nokia X design guidelines. No big work is required here either, as in most cases this could mean to simply adapt the app’s icon to the style of the Nokia X launcher interface.

My personal porting experience confirmed the simplicity of the process, and I did not need to change a single line of code before submitting my apps for publishing to Nokia Store. Impressive to say the least!

Nokia X porting lab confirms ease of process

I recently took part in a Nokia X porting lab offered by Daniele Pagani, head of developer experience for Nokia in Italy. All the developers that took part in the lab were able to port their apps that same day – even the most complex ones integrating multiple Google services – ranging from sport apps to location-based utilities, from games to social networking apps.

What surprised me was that developers of all experience levels with all kinds of content were able to have their apps ready to be published to the Nokia Store by the end of the day.

After creating a publisher account on Nokia Publish, the developers did benefit from using the Nokia X quick publish tool, a streamlined workflow that makes it possible for you to submit an app for publishing in seconds!

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This new, quick flow is very effective, and developers who had never published apps to the Nokia Store before were able to complete the publishing process without any troubles.

By the end of the day, I left the porting lab with a solid impression of the potential of the Nokia X platform. Equally, I could feel a positive vibe about Nokia X coming from all of the developers at the porting lab, who were pleasantly surprised at being able to port and publish their apps to a platform they did not know at all only a few hours before.

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The day ended with several new Nokia X apps and games, including the gorgeous Doom & Destiny from Heartbit Interactive (shown above), submitted to Nokia Store.

Hints for developers

My main hint for developers is simple: Take advantage of this opportunity. Timing is of the essence – being first often means more visibility and the possibility of doing big numbers.

Finally, I would stress this point: focus on simplicity. Nokia X devices have the potential of reaching users that have never used a smartphones before. For this reason, developers that want to make the most of this new market should design apps that offer features in a simple and immediate way.

Below you will find a list of resources that were the most useful during the porting lab, and that contain essential tools to quickly port, test and publish new apps for Nokia X:

More about the contributor: Alessandro La Rosa is a long-time mobile app developer from Rome with expertise in Java, Near Field Communication (NFC), Location-based Services (LBS) and social networking apps. His hard work and contributions to the developer community as a whole have earned him honors as a Nokia Developer Champion. He has published apps for Nokia Asha, Windows Phone and most recently Nokia X devices.