Ideaworks Labs has announced version 4.0 of its Airplay cross-platform software development kit (SDK) for smartphones, adding support for Android and a new pricing structure to make it easier for smaller developers to start producing applications.
Airplay SDK 4.0 is designed to let developers build applications that can run on multiple platforms, rather than having to target just a single platform or device such as Apple's popular iPhone.
"We've been working on this problem for a long time, and Airplay is already widely used by the larger content providers. With the new release, we're trying to take it to a wider audience through a lower price threshold," said Ideaworks chief executive Alex Caccia.
The Airplay SDK works by exploiting the fact that virtually all smartphones use processors based on the ARM architecture, and are therefore compatible at the very lowest code level.
Airplay includes its own user interface framework, so an application does not necessarily need to make operating system calls, which would be platform-specific, to output to the display, for example.
"It enables the developer to write a single ARM binary that will run on all platforms," said Caccia.
Airplay is otherwise "a full C++ programming environment", according to Caccia, which means that developers do not need to use the existing SDKs for each platform.
Version 4.0 adds support for Android, while Apple's iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and BREW handsets are already covered. RIM's BlackBerry platform is not currently supported, but Caccia said that Ideaworks is looking at Palm's WebOS used in the Pre smartphone.
"We hope it will appeal to existing developers wondering how they can get a wider audience for their applications," he said.
The new release carries a tiered pricing structure based on company turnover. It is free for iPhone-only support, and other platforms cost $99 (£60) each for firms with revenue up to $50,000 (£30,600) per annum.
"This way, an independent developer can pick it up and get going easily," said Caccia.
The next tier up targets professionals, and carries a licence fee of $1,000 (£612) per seat per annum. Pricing for other tiers has yet to be announced.
Free evaluation licences of Airplay SDK 4.0 are available today. The full licence will be available within 30 days through the Ideaworks web site for developers of all sizes.
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