Adam Ralph

Software, tea, and snowboarding

Mono for Android for a Toy App

Today I created a Hello World app using Mono for Android. I must say, Xamarin have this nicely packaged up. I followed both the installation instructions and the “Hello, Android” walk-through and everything worked like a charm. In no time at all I had my emulator running and my app deployed.

So where do I go from here? If I want to put the app on my phone then I need to buy a $399 license. Hmmm, not sure I’m ready to do that yet. When will I be ready to do that? I guess I’d need to be sure that either a) my app is really useful to me ($399 useful) or b) that it would make enough revenue to cover the $399 investment.

In that case I should carry on playing with some ideas until I’m ready to make the investment. Now, emulators are all well and good, but whilst my app is in an emulator, it’s just a promise of how it might look on my phone. I don’t have the ‘real’ experience of having the screen in my hand, having all the real gestures available, moving stuff around with my thumbs etc. I can’t show it to people! Well, I can, but until it’s actually on my phone it’s just another geeky thing that I’m doing on my PC. It lacks the impact of ‘dude, look at this app which I wrote for my phone’!

So, what I’d like to see is the ability to deploy to at least one device using the free license. Then I have something to get excited about. I’ll be spurred on to improve my app and make it really cool and something which I’m glad to have on my phone. I’d also be much more likely to have something which I think is worth putting on the marketplace and investing $399 in. Free options for open source projects would also be a big win.

At the moment I don’t see a path to me paying for the $399 license. With the ability to deploy to one device for free, I can see a path to me paying the $399.

If you want to add your voice to the argument then pay a visit to Xamarin’s uservoice (More affordable personal license and free license for open source project). Thanks to @ermau on Jabbr for the feedback - apparently Xamarin have acknowledged the need for a lower barrier to entry for the indie developer and are working on a solution.

Update 23 Feb 2013

Xamarin 2.0 has now been launched and includes a free ‘Starter edition’ which allows the publishing of apps to app stores. There is a limitation of 32KB of IL for each app which seems rather small but at least we now have the possibility to write .NET code and execute it on a real Android device for free! Also, the price for the ‘Indie edition’ (which lifts the app size restriction) has been lowered from $399 to $299. Well done Xamarin!