Microsoft launched a beta version of the Windows Phone App Studio, a “what you see is what you get” — aka WYSIWYG — app builder for Windows Phone applications.
The builder is fairly straightforward: you put together your application using the provided building blocks, and when you’re done, the App Studio will build you a running executable that you can install on your device through a QR code, or export your entire codebase and edit it in Visual Studio.
If you have a Windows Phone developer account, which currently costs $19 until August 26, you can also publish the new app to the Windows Phone Store.
All of this adds up to a fairly straightforward message from the folks in Redmond: build apps for WP8. Given recent numbers, they can use all the help they can get.
A recent report from Vision Mobile showed that while the percentage of developers working with Windows Phone stayed the same for the first half of this year, the percentage of developers who said that they intended to adopt WP8 dropped by 12 percent.
While the tool’s introduction may herald the creation of a lot of generic apps with minimal functionality, this seems like it has the potential to be a good prototyping tool for professional mobile developers who just want to give Windows Phone a shot and create something in a weekend. If that initial prototyping feels good, it’s entirely possible that devs will consider expanding to Windows Phone.
Since today’s smartphone ecosystem is so driven by what apps a given platform has, attracting new developer interest is going to be key if Microsoft wants Windows Phone to succeed.
Previously on GeekWire: Developer survey: Windows Phone struggles as iOS and Android remain strong
Blair Hanley Frank is a technology journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.