|All Photos Courtesy of Long Zheng|
Since MIX'11 is a developer-centric event, we saw a lot of news today for what kinds of updates the development tools would be receiving. With that in mind, Microsoft announced a slew of new features on the development-side of WP7 and the biggest takeaway from the presentation was the promise of tigther integration between apps and the OS. WP7 will become a much more powerful and cohesive experience once Mango rolls out and that developers will be able to tie their apps into the OS. The features that are a part of the new 'Live Agents' (which encompasses Push Notifications, Live Tiles, Deep Linking, and Background Agents along with Multitasking) are all going to be improved so app developers will have greater access to them.
Speaking of Multitasking, Microsoft revealed that not only is it powered through fast app switching (similar to the iOS approach), it will also allow background audio for apps (!) and background file transfers as well. We will also be seeing the 'Extras' menu, like the option found in the Pictures Hub and the Music + Video Hub, will be found in even more places in the OS. One demonstration showed IMDB tying into Bing search through the extras menu.
There was also a lot of attention brought to expanded access to WP7's motion library and camera functionality. One of the main reasons Microsoft wants to do this is to allow for increasingly-popular Augmented Reality apps to become available for WP7. Microsoft later demoed Layar, one of the most popular mobile AR apps, which was made from the new Mango toolkit. Windows Phone is also finally allowing socket access to apps, which makes VOIP apps a possibility now when they weren't before. Speaking of VOIP, Microsoft demoed the much anticipated Skype app for WP7 and sure enough, everything worked perfectly.
Microsoft announced that the brand-spankin' new Mango Development Tools will be released next month. The new toolkit will be bringing a lot of features that will improve WP7's already excellent apps. Specifically, it will bring with it support for Silverlight AND XNA in the same project (which could dramatically amp up the visual quality of both apps and games), new calendar and contacts APIs for apps to use (another huge boost to app features), and more.
But that's not all! Besides the staggering amount of new development tools, Microsoft is also pledging to expand 'opportunities' for developers. Here's the list taken directly from the Windows Phone Developer Blog:
While all of this just sounds like nerdy tech mumbo-jumbo, these are actually quite important features that will dramatically improve the functionality of apps. The fact that Microsoft is managing to include all of these features in a single update is huge and Windows Phone 7 may manage to catch up to most of Android's and iOS' features in one fell swoop. It's a mind-boggling accomplishment on Microsoft's part and Mango may warranting the title of "Windows Phone 7.5" after all.
More countries – 35 Mango countries with creation and commerce. More Reach – Dedicated games Marketplace, beta distribution More Discoverability – Exposure through Bing Search “Extras,” search functionality and new merchandising opportunities More Monetization – More MO billing, expanded country support for advertising SDK
Images Source: Long Zheng (Flickr)
Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog, WPCentral
Sorry I'm late with this post. I'm in university right now and I had two classes back-to-back today until 11am PST, and I couldn't skip my classes for a keynote!