Why Am I Excited about Windows Phone 8 SDK?

event_wp8_heroToday Microsoft is finally releasing the new Windows Phone 8 SDK. As I've been updating my Windows Phone book for this new incarnation of the device, I am excited that the SDK is finally going to be available for public consumption.

Even though the new phone has completely changed the underlying operation system to use the same WinRT sub-system that powers Windows 8, the basics of how to build apps on the phone is primarily the same. This means if you have experience building XAML-based projects, you should be right at home with Windows Phone 8.

A lot has been talked about the new Operating System and it's new tile layout and other features. But what I want to explain are the new developer features that I am excited about (in no specific order):

1. Backward Compatibility

The new OS runs existing apps with no changes. This means that older apps that don't get updated will continue to run. The OS will auto-scale those apps to the newer, higher resolution devices without any changes. This means that the big collection of apps out there already work with the pone.

2. Visual Studio 2012

The ability to use Visual Studio 2012 instead 2010 represents a big leap in productivity for me. It's not just the new IDE and it's own improvements, but the ability to use the built-in XAML designer (which is based on the Blend code) means that for many changes I don't need to exit the IDE to modify my XAML. I still need to use Blend for advanced stuff like animations, rich styling and visual states but most of the basic layout works in the designer directly.

3. Voice Commands

While prior to Windows Phone 8 users could launch your app by saying "Open {App Name}", Voice Command support is extended to allow you to add your own verbs and nouns to the phone-wide voice command system. So when users long-hold the Windows key, you can now have them launch your app directly!

4. NFC Support

While NFC support on the phone will be useful to share playlists, photos and contact information by simply touching phones, this same support can be used by developers to enable all sorts of interesting applications.

5. Voice Recognition

The new SDK also unleashes support to use the TellMe voice recognition engine directly in your apps. Imagine being able to tweet out in the next version of Rowi without even typing!

6. Enterprise Development Story

Creating public apps is interesting, but new in the Windows Phone 8 SDK is the ability to create a store just for your organization. This allows more business applications to use the phone and limit who can have access to those apps to only employees. It includes other features like fast updates to those applications and revoking apps. It empowers enterprises to use Windows Phone as mobile platforms like never before.

7. Device Debugging Made Easy

In prior versions, getting debugging to work involved either using Zune or WPConnect to make work. In Windows Phone 8, plug it in and it works. No app, no nothing.

8. Camera Lenses

Finally, a new feature of the SDK allows apps to exist in the Camera app on the phone and let users launch the app directly from the camera. This allows different types of camera experiences like scanners, augmented reality and others. While you could use the camera to build these apps, integration directly into the Camera app makes them more discoverable and easier to launch for users.

 

These aren't all the new features of the SDK, but represent a taste of what has me excited about developing apps for the phone. Go get the SDK and let me know what you're building!

 

Comments

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Ben Hurd Tuesday, October 30, 2012

And when Windows Phone 9 comes along; Microsoft will say it does not support Windows Phone 8, so people that bought Windows 8 phone have to buy new Windows 9 Phones. However, the opt to buy Android. Windows Phone is a day late and a dollar short.

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Shawn Wildermuth Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ben,

I understand the sentiment.

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Ibrahim Ersoy Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hi Shawn,

Do you know Why Windows Phone 8 Emulator runs only in Hyper-V enabled CPUs? i was expecting same environment as they did with previous Windows Phone 7 Emulator

Thanks

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Shawn Wildermuth Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ibrahim,

Yes, the Hyper-V is a much better performing virtualization strategy. The old one was based on Virtual PC and was slow and wonky.

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Christian Weyer Wednesday, October 31, 2012

JavaScript?

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Shawn Wildermuth Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Christian,

The JS projrct support is pretty thin (no WinJS) and I already do this in PhoneGap...so no, not JS support.

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Dan Van Der Werken Thursday, November 1, 2012

You have a link on this page to a book you wrote that is no longer available. That's kind of...funny? Also, I would imagine the topic is a bit outdated now.

1. Backward Compatibility -- so all WP7.x apps run on WP8 with no changes? If I wrote an app for WP 7.x, why would I want to re-write it for WP 8? Is there some additional advantage to doing so (performance, new graphics API, etc)?

2. Does the current version of Blend fully support WP 8 development, or do you expect a new version to be coming out soon with better features for WP 8 development?

3. Is the Voice stuff as good as Dragon? What differentiates this voice from any other mobile OS voice capability?

4. NFC -- we're catching up to Japan!

5. See 3. above.

6. That's cool. Is the store only for WP 8 apps or can it be used for Windows 8 apps also?

7.Kernel mode debugging available or just user-mode? I'm curious.

8. How does an app exist within an app?

---Dan---

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James Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm amazed that no one is reporting the issue with the WP8 emulators. I seems to start up for about 5 minutes then closes without any detail. The only message that I receive is the 'Deployment failed. Please try again.'. Has anyone else had this issue?

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Fabio Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hi Shawn, do you know anything about the support for background operations. I know that WP7 allows background processing in a very limited way 15 or 30 minutes of scheduled runs at a time for example.

I was wondering if an application to GPS track where the phone is will be possible with WP8 (for example, if I lose my phone or it is stolen). The single threaded thing was big deal breaker for me in WP7, including real time chat apps.

Whatsapp is a great example of an application that works very poorly under WP7 architecture.

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Ryan Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hey Shawn,

I bought your 7.5 text, any plans for a windows 8 book?

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Shawn Wildermuth Friday, November 2, 2012

Ryan,

Yes, the WP8 book should go to press by end of November and be available soon.

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Shawn Wildermuth Friday, November 2, 2012

Fabio,

There is a specific exemption for location background processing in WP8.

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Bill Sithiro Tuesday, December 4, 2012

James, I second that. No clue whatsoever on how to fix it. Worst part is some MS troubleshooting guides suggest all sort of things, like: getting a new hard drive (SSD), more RAM, defraging your disk, working up from the lowest component score in performance rating. So what is this? A guessing game to develop for WP8?


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