This week FlightSim.com published a new interview with Chris Serio, X-Plane 10 Mobile Product Manager. In it he goes into a lot of detail about the differences (and similarities) on developing mobile and desktop applications, and the challenges of Android and iOS. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
FlightSim.com: Do you plan to release future X-Plane versions on Android devices as well as iPhone and what are the challenges of developing for each?
Chris: Yes, we’re hard at work on the Android version of X-Plane Mobile V10 which will match the iPhone version as much as possible. I have it running on a few devices already but there are literally (let me check…) 8,027 different devices that we’d like to support…which is always the biggest challenge. With iOS, we have to support 15. It’s easy to purchase 15 devices and test them thoroughly, however it’s not feasible to buy 8,027. So we have to deal with more issues that pop up that are very device-specific. The good thing about Android’s openness is that any time that I have a question, I can just look at the source. When we hit troubles on iOS, we have to do a lot of guessing and testing to prove our theories. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. We’ve always preferred iOS as our primary platform because we find it easier for us to develop on. However both platforms are extremely important to us. Android is more capable now than ever before which will allow more parity between iOS and Android than we could have had in the past.
FlightSim.com: Ben Supnik mentioned to us that the iPhone is a closed platform that doesn’t allow for direct third party input leaving no plugin system on mobile devices. How do in-app purchases of add-on aircraft work today? Do you plan to have add-on scenery, ATC or other features included as possible options as well?
Chris: In-app purchases are going very well though we do get occasional flack because in V9, Austin included tons and tons of planes for free. This was a reasonable thing to do because V9 aircraft were very simple. There were no 3D cockpits and the devices at the time were not capable of much so the planes did not need to be very detailed. Low authoring costs for us, meant low costs to the customers. In V10 however, we’re literally creating desktop quality aircraft. Some of our newer planes like the CRJ200 and the B777-200ER are pushing close to one million vertices! Each aircraft takes hundreds and hundreds of hours to create. That’s why we decided to make aircraft purchasable and make the simulator a free platform. This way, you buy what you want for the price of a small cup of coffee at Starbucks. These are aircraft that would easily sell for $30 or more on the desktop platform.
I can’t really comment much on future plans for features but I will say that it’s our intention to make the platform grow in breadth and detail. We will keep adding features that customers want and those will make their way to both iOS and Android.
Read the complete 3 page interview here on FlightSim.com.