Thursday, April 14, 2011

Windows Phone adds multitasking, deeper OS integration, and sensor access to dev platform

We knew it was coming, and today at MIX 11, Microsoft showed off its developer platform for the next version of Windows Phone, which developers will be able to get their hands on for free in May. The new application platform adds:
  • Multitasking for background processing, audio and file transfer, and fast app switching, including background audio playback for HTML5 webpages
  • Deeper integration of apps into the OS, allowing programs to leverage Live Tiles, including push notifications via Live Agents running in the background
  • Raw access to the camera and sensors (gyro and compass) via the Motion Sensor library, letting apps to control device hardware
Microsoft hopes this will allow developers to make even more creative and engaging apps. To get our juices flowing, it showed off demos of new app concepts from SkypeSpotifyLayar, Qantas, AmazonShopping, and Kik Messenger. Check out our gallery below and hit the break for the details.

After briefly touching on the recent Windows Phone update issues, Joe Belfiore welcomed Nokia's Symbian developers (!) and demoed accelerated HTML5 webpage rendering vs. iOS and Android. The Amazon app showed off barcode scanning via raw camera access, while the Qantas app used Live Tiles and Live Agents to update flight status in real time.

The developer tools also received some updates including GPS simulation to help when coding on the emulator, as well as a profiler which allows developers to pinpoint and fix performance bottlenecks. Scrolling and touch input, image decoding, garbage collection, and memory usage all received bumps in performance allowing apps to run smoother without any code changes. Overall, Microsoft added 1500+ new APIs, including local SQLite database support.

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