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 Skype, Spotify, Layar, Qantas, Amazon Shopping, 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.
We'll have some video up for you soon, but in the meantime, take a look at the press release below.
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Windows Phone, Kinect Exemplify New Usage Scenarios and Device Capabilities at MIX11
Today's keynote put a devices spotlight on Windows Phone, the forthcoming Kinect for Windows Beta SDK and the availability of Microsoft Silverlight 5 beta.
LAS VEGAS - April 13, 2011 - Microsoft Corp. executives today showcased the next version of the Windows Phone operating system and other powerful next-generation applications that span phones, PCs and other devices. Building on Tuesday's keynote, Microsoft demonstrated the value of developing for HTML5 and the standards-based Web with Internet Explorer 9 on PCs running Windows and Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Phone. With the forthcoming release of Windows Phone, coming later this year, Microsoft is providing developers with more hardware capabilities, better browsing and improved tooling, as well as expanded opportunities and Windows Phone Marketplace options. Together, these technologies create a richer application environment that expands mobile usage scenarios.
"The next release of Windows Phone represents the evolution of our strategy for ensuring that developers are at the forefront of 'what's next' by investing in even richer customer experiences, a powerful application platform and a thriving ecosystem," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, Windows Phone Program Management. "We will soon deliver a new set of Windows Phone Developer Tools that will enable developers to create a new generation of apps that are even faster, more capable and better integrated with Windows Phone."
New Opportunities and Capabilities for Windows Phone
Today, Microsoft provided the first deep look at the development platform for the next version of Windows Phone, arriving on new and existing handsets later this year. Developers will soon have updated Windows Phone Developer Tools. Improved tools include a performance profiler and sensor simulation, enabling developers to build more integrated and high-performing applications. The new application platform enables developers to take advantage of the following:
• Application multitasking for background processing, audio and file transfer, and fast application switching
• Deeper phone integration so apps can, for example, take better advantage of the versatility of Live Tiles
• Access to the camera and Motion Sensor library so developers can build apps that incorporate device hardware and build augmented reality experiences
Developers will be able to take advantage of these new capabilities to create even more creative and engaging Windows Phone apps and games.
The free Windows Phone Developer Tools for the new Windows Phone OS will be available to developers in May. With 38,000 registered developers, more than 13,000 available apps and 1.5 million downloads of the original Windows Phone Developer Tools, developers are the foundation of the fast-growing Windows Phone ecosystem.
Today, Microsoft also provided an early glimpse of app concepts for the next version of Windows Phone OS with new experiences from Skype, Spotify, Layar, Qantas, Amazon Shopping and Kik Messenger.
"Windows Phone is an incredibly fun and easy platform for developers to work with, and Kik was thrilled to have the chance to create a concept with the phone's next-generation developer tools," said Ted Livingston, CEO, Kik Messenger. "In only two weeks, we had an amazing new app that looks and feels like an extension of the phone itself, creating a customer experience like nothing we've seen before."
Kinect for Windows Beta SDK Opens Doors for Enthusiasts and Academics
Kinect for Xbox 360, recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the fastest-selling consumer device in 60 days, allows users to enjoy games and entertainment with their whole body and voice - no controller required. Since Kinect launched in November 2010, enthusiasts have been exploring the potential of Kinect in a number of unexpected, nongaming scenarios. Today at MIX, Microsoft detailed some of the features in the Kinect for Windows Beta SDK from Microsoft Research coming in the spring, including the following:
• Robust Skeletal Tracking for high-performance capabilities that track the skeleton image of one or two persons moving within the Kinect field of view
• Advanced Audio Capabilities, including four-element microphone array with sophisticated acoustic noise and echo cancellation for great audio; beam formation to identify the current sound source and integration with the Windows speech recognition API also included
• XYZ depth camera for standard color camera stream access and depth data that indicates the distance of the object from the Kinect camera
Developers can sign up to be notified of the release at http://research.microsoft.com/kinectsdk.
Onstage, Microsoft showcased compelling examples of what is possible using the SDK, including WorldWide Telescope and several community projects. Frog design inc. created a Kinect-powered "Wall Panic" PC game, in which players contort their bodies until they match a shape descending on a large screen. This work typifies the creative groundswell of Kinect usage scenarios being delivered by enthusiasts, developers and academics.
"Microsoft's support for Kinect beyond the Xbox platform will increase opportunities for developers to explore new ideas and deliver innovative Kinect applications and experiences. A richer Kinect for Windows API will enable the creativity of these development communities to really come to life," said Robert Tuttle, chief architect, frog design.
Microsoft Silverlight 5 Beta Delivered
Microsoft also announced the immediate availability of the beta for Microsoft Silverlight 5, which provides advances in rich media and application development. New capabilities include Hardware Video Decode, for enhanced video quality and performance, and "Trickplay," which provides variable-rate video playback with audio pitch correction. The Microsoft Silverlight 5 beta also offers a new Microsoft XNA-based interface for delivering stunning 3-D visualizations within applications, along with a host of new features that are designed to enhance developer productivity and end-user experiences. More information and a download of the beta are available at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight.
At MIX, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstrated a dynamic new site that uses HTML5 to make the site's core content engaging and wide-reaching while using Silverlight for streaming a never-before-seen, HD video experience from inside the cockpit and a high-performance, interactive, 3-D representation of a Blue Angels aircraft.
"The Blue Angels are excited to launch a new, state-of-the-art website that will allow us to more effectively accomplish our mission of enhancing Navy recruiting and credibly representing Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces," said Lt. Katie Kelly, U.S. Navy Blue Angels.