We’d wondered when Microsoft — the world’s biggest software company — was going to start making apps for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone — one of the main reasons its own Windows Mobile platform is losing steam. Here it is: Seadragon Mobile, a neat app that shows off Microsoft’s (MSFT) Seadragon/Photosynth photo display projects.
TechFlash: It’s designed for zooming smoothly in, out and around photos over the Internet, regardless of bandwidth constraints or image size. Seadragon’s technological trick is to store images in multiple resolutions and deliver only the bits needed to present the view a user wants at any given moment.
So why release an iPhone version? Alex Daley, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs, said the Seadragon team wants to make sure the technology works well on everything from a wall-sized display to a mobile device.
“The iPhone is the most widely distributed phone with a (graphics processing unit),” Daley explained. “Most phones out today don’t have accelerated graphics in them The iPhone does and so it enabled us to do something that has been previously difficult to do. I couldn’t just pick up a Blackberry or a Nokia off the shelf and build Seadragon for it without GPU support.”
Of course, we didn’t really expect Microsoft to kick out a mobile version of Office by now. But we do think it’d be smart if they could make a good iPhone app for using its Web-based Word, Excel, etc. apps — before Google does that for Google Docs and Spreadsheets.