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If somebody switches from an iPhone to a Windows Phone and can’t find their favourite apps, it won’t be long before they get fed up and switch back. AppSwitch is an app designed to help users find Windows Phone and Windows 8 app equivalents to Apple iOS and Google Android apps.
I’m a third year student studying Electronic Engineering at the University of Southampton. For much of my time at University I’ve owned a Windows Phone. Most people I show it to really like it and get on with it well but just when you think they’re considering one as their next upgrade they say – “does it have all of the apps I’ve got on my current phone?” It’s difficult to then convince them that although most of their apps don’t exist on WP yet, there are many good equivalent apps available. It’s hard because you have to sit with them and search the marketplace, browsing many, many apps trying to find one that’s similar. Then I thought – wouldn’t it be great if instead of browsing randomly, there was a way to find a list of Windows Phone apps that are equivalent to a specific app on another platform? Wouldn’t that be great?
Most of the matches in AppSwitch are generated automatically using an algorithm designed to crawl and collate apps from the Windows Phone, Windows 8, Apple iOS and Google Android stores. This works reasonably well but the best matches are submitted by users and developers. Developers can submit matches via www.appswitch.co.uk (currently the only way to submit Win8 matches) and an update currently in certification allows user submissions. Feedback within the app from users ensures the odd bad matches are filtered out and the best matches are pushed to the top of the list.
The challenges are on going. Scouring app stores and matching apps is not a simple task – simply checking to see if two apps mention Facebook in the description doesn’t mean that they are Facebook clients. Similarly, a Facebook client might only mention Facebook once – how do you tell this app apart from a game that posts game scores to Facebook? The further you look into it, the more complex it gets – remember that computers are stupid and are unable to easily spot two similar apps even if it’s blatantly obvious to us. With the descriptions of each app varying wildly (update information, links to people who have reviewed the app, malformed sentences etc.) it soon becomes a minefield. As matches are rated within AppSwitch, successive runs of the algorithm produce better matches each time.
If you’re a developer and you’ve got an app on either Windows Phone or Windows 8 – why not list it in AppSwitch? Head to www.appswitch.co.uk and get it noticed! If you have any questions or ideas then please don’t hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org