Microsoft acquires cross-platform mobile app power with HockeyApp

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Adding to its toolset for cross-platform mobile applications, Microsoft has acquired a small German software company, called HockeyApp, that has developed a service for crash analysis and beta testing of mobile applications.

Microsoft plans to fold the functionality into its own Visual Studio Online, a hosted service for managing the lifecycles of applications being developed by teams of programmers. There, it will be incorporated into the Visual Studio Online’s Application Insights portfolio of services, now in preview, for monitoring app usage and behavior.

“Integrating HockeyApp crash reports with Application Insights usage analytics will extend device support for Application Insights across all major mobile platforms and make application analytics an ambient part of the application development cycle,” wrote S. Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president overseeing the company’s developer division, in a blog item posted Thursday announcing the purchase.

Based in Stuttgart, Germany, HockeyApp’s service offers a number of capabilities to aid in the development of mobile applications. A robust crash reporting system delivers to developers detailed reports of what went wrong, information that can be incorporated into bug-tracking systems. It also offers a platform for distributing beta versions of apps, which collects user feedback on how well the app performs.

HockeyApp offers a unified interface for handling Apple iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. This fits well with Microsoft’s goal in recent years to build out a development environment not only for Microsoft Windows, but for other platforms as well.

HockeyApp, founded in 2011, offers a similar set of services as Apple’s TestFlight, which Apple acquired in 2012 when it purchased Burstly. However, Apple dropped support in TestFlight for applications that don’t run on its own platform, which is something Somasegar pledged not to do.

Until HockeyApp is fully integrated into Application Insights, developers are invited to try the service as a stand-alone offering.

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