With the methodical proliferation of smartphones into what seems like every pocket, we now find ourselves living in the Golden App Age — or App Era, whichever you prefer. However, as mobile platforms and their native app economies mature and expand, and the App Age enters Phase 2, a new generation of startups has emerged. These companies are finally providing the kinds of robust tools and services to support to continued growth of the App Ecosystem, in large part by making the lives of developers less painful, and by helping them to make a living.
Capitalizing on this growing trend, Collin Jackson and Ian Fischer launched Apportable out of Y Combinator in 2011 on a mission to help developers bring their app-tastic creations to any and all mobile devices — without reducing performance or quality. Since then, the San Francisco-based startup has focused on making those lives easier by developing tools to allow app and game developers to do a wondrous and magical thing: Share the same code for iOS and Android.
Said another way, Apportable’s platform allows developers building games for iOS to automatically generate an Android version of their app without having to make significant changes to the original Objective C or C++ code. By enabling app creators to quickly produce Android versions of their iOS creations, while maintaining relative quality and performance, Apportable quickly found a welcoming audience.
Since launching in 2011, the startup has gone on to help a wide range of clients, like Icelandic pop star, Bjork, as well as game development houses like Booyah, Pocket Gems and Wooga, convert iOS apps to Android. Companies like Wooga, for example, have even used Apportable to create Android versions of popular games like Jelly Splash, which now boasts over 15 million downloads across platforms.
With a freemium pricing model that offers basic services for free and charges $1,000 to $15,000 per developer for licenses and “premium” features, Apportable has quickly grown to a staff of over 50, and has attracted an impressive roster of investors. In July, the company raised $2.4 million from Initialized Capital and Google Ventures, among others.
In January of this year, Apportable added to its platform with the release of “SpriteBuilder,” which the company calls the “first complete game development suite for rapidly developing iOS and Android games with Objective C and Xcode.” Based on open-source technology that has developed over the course of years, SpriteBuilder represents the company’s efforts to create a more integrated development experience, and provide developers with tools like a visual editor to help with quick prototyping and the ability to collaborate with designers to reduce development time, for example.
Available as a free download, the suite also allows developers to run their Obective-C code natively on Android, compiling Objective-C programs “directly to ARM or x86 machine code” to allow games built with SpriteBuilder to potentially run faster than those written in Java or other languages. Or at least that was the idea.
With over 3,000 developers downloading SpriteBuilder in less than a month, and having graduated from a second incubation stint as part of StartX’s fall class, Apportable is now adding more coin to its coffers. The startup announced today that it has closed a $5 million round of venture financing from a list of investors that includes Initialized Capital, Danhua Capital, and Y Combinator — including YC partner and Gmail creator Paul Bucheit — as well as Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (who led the startup’s previous round as well).
With its new capital, Apportable said that it plans to ramp up hiring, adding to its staff of 50, with a particular focus on recruiting top engineering talent. It will also look to add further functionality to its two flagship products, with a focus on expanding its game-building suite for iOS and Android.
In describing what first attracted him to Apportable, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian said that the team has “pulled off what most of us thought was impossible … by using its platform, any iOS developer can launch a native app on both platforms without the massive headaches and expenses
normally associated with producing and distributing an app for both ecosystems.”
While that value proposition is clear enough, Apportable could face potential competition down the road from HTML5 game and app creation platforms, although at this point, HTML5 still isn’t quite on par with native performance. Companies like fellow StartX grad, Game Closure, could fall into this category, while other make-shift options include those like PhoneGap. However, at this point, Apportable seems to have a firm grasp on the iOS to Android conversion landscape, so don’t be surprised to hear more from the YC and StartX alum in 2014.