GitHub, now under Microsoft, finally releases an iOS app, 11 years after launch

Key Points
  • GitHub has 40 million registered users, up about 43% from when Microsoft announced its $7.5 billion acquisition of the company in 2018.
  • GitHub executives for years said mobile wasn't a top priority, but the company is now changing its tune.
  • Founded in 2008, GitHub is preparing to release its first iOS app.
From left, GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and future GitHub CEO Nat Friedman at GitHub headquarters in San Francisco.
Source: Microsoft

GitHub, the code collaboration company that Microsoft purchased last year for $7.5 billion, has operated for 11 years without an iPhone app, preferring to keep its service in the browser.

That's finally changing. On Tuesday, GitHub said it's rolling out a beta iOS app, giving iPhone and iPad users another way to share code, just as parent company Microsoft is cozying up to Apple and other longtime rivals. Earlier this year, Microsoft said that anyone using its Windows 10 mobile platform should switch to an iPhone or Android device.

The iOS app, which the company says is available now as a beta release, will allow GitHub users to see when people mention them in discussions and accept suggestions for updating code in repositories that other users submit.

"There's a lot you can do on GitHub that doesn't require a complex development environment, like sharing feedback on a design discussion and reviewing a few lines of code," Shanku Niyogi, a former Microsoft employee who is now GitHub's senior vice president of product, wrote in a blog post.

For GitHub, which has more than 40 million registered user accounts, the change reflects a larger determination to improve basic aspects of the service amid competition from companies like Atlassian and GitLab. GitHub executives have long suggested that while people generally consume information on mobile devices, they engage in more intensive work, like posting code to storage repositories, on desktop computers.

But users are clearly asking for more collaboration options from mobile devices, and it's in Microsoft's interest to keep up with developer demands as software becomes a bigger focus for almost every company in every industry.

GitHub doesn't currently have an official Android app. It announced one in 2012 but stopped updating it after 2014. A new one is coming soon and, in the meantime, several unofficial GitHub clients like PocketHub are available on Android and on iOS that allow users to access their GitHub data from mobile apps.

GitHub has grown from 28 million user accounts when Microsoft announced the acquisition in June 2018.

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