One of the hallmark features of Windows 10 is its ability to run Universal Windows Apps. These apps, sometimes abbreviated as UWAs, can adapt to whatever device they happen to be on, as well as to how the user is running it.
For any universal app, a Windows user downloads the same app to both a phone and a PC, but it appears differently on both, with navigation of the user experience suited to each environment. More importantly, the app can transform its functionality on the same device, depending how the user is interacting with it.
The power of Continuum
Windows PCs can often act more like tablets (witness the Surface and Surface Pro devices), a consequence of — or rather, the entire strategy behind — Windows 8 and later 8.1. Through a Windows 10 feature called Continuum, a user can switch to tablet mode at the tap of an icon, immediately telling all UWAs to transform as well, if they’re so enabled.
On phones, as Microsoft demonstrated this week at its Build developer conference, Continuum is potentially even more powerful: When a Windows 10 phone is connected to an external display, it can run the full PC versions of those apps.
From a developer perspective, this is great. In theory, it means you only have to write one app for all devices. That said, there’s still some work to do to ensure the user interface adapts properly to any device in particular, although Microsoft has plenty of tools that specifically help with that.
“I think it’s a really great start,” said Andrew Fryer, a mobile developer who worked on Windows apps for DocuSign. “Windows 10 has a lot of potential, reducing the amount of work required to get your app on all those devices. I think it’s a great vision.” >more