Microsoft has signalled its intentions of grabbing some of the iPad market by launching a web page that shows developers how to translate iPad apps into Windows 8 ones with a Metro style look and feel.
"In this case study we want to help designers and developers who are familiar with iOS to reimagine their apps using Metro style design principles," the blog blog. "We show you how to translate common user interface and experience patterns found in iPad apps to Windows 8 Metro style apps."
Why would anyone want to do that? "To learn more about the business opportunity of Windows 8, see Selling Apps," the posting says early on. Ultimately that leads to a site with this enticement: "With successful apps on Windows, you'll make more money than the industry standard, earning 80% of every customer dollar, after an app makes more than 25,000 USD in sales. For the first 25,000 USD of an app's sales, you get the industry-standard 70%."
Money aside, the case-study post shows how an iPad photo journal application was adapted to fit with Metro style. Both Windows 8 and iOS on iPads cater to touch commands and navigation, but where iPads rely on icons and toolbars, Windows 8 centers around words on tiles and hiding toolbars.
In converting to Windows 8 the first thing to go from the iPad app is the "chrome" - the navigation bar, pagination controls and the bottom control bar, resulting in a less cluttered application surface. In the Windows 8 version, they are gone but are less necessary because the navigation hierarchy is flattened.
For example, the hub screen for the iPad app shows a single photo for each of the 12 months, with a tab to switch to comments about the photos.
In the Windows 8 version the hub screen is a single month with a featured large photo for the month with other, smaller photos from that month displayed next to it. About a third of the same screen is devoted to comments. For more comments, tap (it's designed for touchscreen) the Recent Comment header. For more pictures, tap the This Month header.
A second navigation alternative involves pinch to zoom - making a pinching gesture while touching the screen to pull out hierarchically from a single photo to sets of 12 squares or tiles, each set representing a different year. Users can, for instance, go from a photo from March 2012 to a photo from July 2010 by pinching the March photo, zooming out to the sets of tiles, tapping the one for July 2010 and sorting through the photos that are brought up. There is no navigation bar.
With the iPad app, the same transition calls for tapping a Years button on the navigation bar at the top of the screen, selecting the year as it appears in a popover box and then sorting through that year.
Similarly, commands are hidden off screen and can be drawn up from the bottom or down from the top with a finger swipe. The commands shown depend on what object on the screen is designated. So if a photo is highlighted, the commands might include delete or upload.
In the iPad app, that is done via the always visible navigation bar.
On the iPad app, search is done via a search window on the app's home page. With Metro, it's always available on the charms bar - a bar of a consistent set of icons that can be swiped out from the right hand side of the screen. It searches the application that the user is inside of.
The features go on and on, including sharing content between applications and to various social networking sites.