What a great time it is to be a Windows Phone developer! Thanks to your efforts we just hit 25,000+ apps in the marketplace! The next few months are going to be extremely exciting as we roll out the Mango update to existing Windows Phone customers everyone. Now is the time for you to get up to speed and start playing around with an early build of Mango on your own phone. The Windows Phone Team just announced some great stuff for all registered developers.
Windows Phone SDK Beta 2 Tools
The first thing you will want to do is grab the new Windows Phone Beta 2 SDK for “Mango.” This free download will install the latest SDK, Windows Phone Emulator, Visual Studio 2010 for Windows Phone and Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone. If you already have a full installation of Visual Studio 2010 or Expression Blend 4 the tools will integrate with those products and just install the templates.
There are a few things I want to point out about these tools:
You will now be given the option to multi-target Windows Phone versions. Note that 7.0 is the current NoDo retail version and 7.1 is the Mango release. If you want to continue targeting the current SDK for existing phones you will need to change the version to 7.0 as 7.1 is the default.
Applications that are built against the 7.1 SDK will require a phone with the Mango OS (the beta image version you receive as a developer is 7661) installed. It is important to note however that existing 7.0 targeted applications should run just fine on devices with Mango OS installed.
One of the questions I often get asked is how this will affect users of Windows Phone later this year when Mango is rolled out to everyone? Microsoft plans to be very aggressive with this release and users will be notified of the upgrade both on the phone and when they connect to Zune. What version of your application the user sees in the marketplace will be based on the version of their OS. If they chose to not upgrade to Mango they will not see any Mango enabled apps in the marketplace. This means you will need to have a version compiled against the 7.0 SDK for existing users (the same app you have today in marketplace) and an upgraded version compiled against the 7.1 SDK for users that have upgraded to Mango. Users who have upgraded to Mango will see all of the new Mango enabled apps as well as the 7.0 apps but they will only ever see one version of your app.
If you right click on a 7.0 compiled project in Visual Studio 2010 you will be given a new option to go through the migration wizard.
This will open a Wizard that will upgrade your project settings to the new Mango Release as well as point out any updates you may need to add to your code. You won’t see this upgrade wizard in Expression Blend so be sure to open the project in Visual Studio if you want to check it out.
Windows Phone Emulator
One of the first things you will notice about the new Windows Phone Emulator is the Additional Tools that come bundled. Both the Accelerometer and Location tools we showcased during MIX10 will be available to you.
It is important to not however that the Phone OS image in the emulator is actually based off Mango. You can see this by the new search icon that is visible in the application list. This is important to keep in mind as you are testing your apps. Even if you are targeting the 7.0 SDK in your application will in essence be a 7.0 application running on a Mango device. If you want to run against the 7.0 OS Image you will need to keep a machine with the older SDK installed or a device that has not been flashed to Mango.
Mango OS Image for Retail Phones
Now for the most exciting part – how about playing with Mango right now on your existing Windows Phone! The team is happy announced that all registered AppHub users will be receiving invites to an early beta build of the Mango OS. Invites will be sent out via MS Connect to the e-mail address you used to register your account on AppHub. These invites will be sent out in batches so if you haven’t received your invite yet please be patient.
Once you received the invite you will login to the MS Connect website with the same AppHub account Windows Live ID and then need to accept the license agreement. I have gotten some questions around the confidentiality agreement guidelines specifically around what developers are and are not allowed to share. Thankfully the team has posted more details here that should clarify any confusion.
Q: What are the confidentiality requirements of my participation in this pre-release program?
By participating in this pre-release program, you are agreeing to not share the ‘Mango’ pre-release device image, binary dumps, or the applications used to update to this pre-release image, with third parties.
Basically you can talk about it! You just can’t download the Phone Image and start hosting and distributing it out to non registered developers or third parties. Pretty common sense stuff.
It is all super important to read the instructions fully. Microsoft will be supporting bricked phones through this process but only one phone per developer account. Please take every precaution when flashing your device to the Mango build! I want to bring particular focus to the step around backing up your retail Nodo Windows Phone Image. This image will be placed in a folder inside your windows user account directory AppData folder and assigned a guid. Depending on the size of your phone image (mine was 12 gigabytes) this directory may be quite large. You should immediately back up this directory to some type of external data source so that you will not lose it. In order to flash your phone to the retail Mango image later this year you will need to restore back to your retail Nodo image. Don’t lose the backup!
Windows Phone “Mango” Training
Ok you got the new Windows Phone SDK Beta 2 Tools and the Mango image loaded on your phone. How do you start playing with what’s new outside of the existing sessions we did at MIX10? If you are a fan of self paced hand on labs you will want to head over to MSDN and grab the updated Mango Training Course.
This course will walk you through many of the new features such as SQL CE, Background Agents and Fast App Switching. The kit is designed to work completely offline and will install everything local for you.
AppHub has also been updated with many new Mango enabled tutorials for both XNA and Silverlight Applications. You can get to the updated content by hovering over the education column in the header and selecting education catalog.
The MSDN Code Samples website has also been updated with lots of Mango goodness. Be sure to check it out!
Microsoft Advertising SDK Update
In the midst of all the Mango announcements last week we also released an update to the Microsoft Advertising SDK.
If you are using Ads in your Windows Phone application you will definitely want to check out this release. There are many updates included such as additional end user privacy and auto-hide of the control when no Ads are available to be shown.
Windows Phone Sketchflow Templates
If you happen to be one of those lucky folks running Expression Blend 4 Ultimate with Sketchflow then I’ve got some additional goodies for you!
The Expression Team released updated Sketchflow templates that will now allow you to sketch out Windows Phone applications. You can head on over to Codeplex to download the free templates. Keep in mind you will need a licensed version of Expression Blend 4 Ultimate with Sketchflow these will not run with the free Blend for Windows Phone edition.
Students get first access to Mango hardware
Finally, if you are a student looking to get your hands on some of the first Mango enabled hardware then we have exciting news. As the team points out we have 50 devices reserved just for you!
Here is what to do:
- Make sure you’re registered for DreamSpark
- Download and install Expression Studio Ultimate and the new Mango Windows Phone Developer Tools (available free as a member of DreamSpark)
- Get the free Sketchflow Template for Windows Phone and create a Sketchflow mock-up of your app
- Post the Sketchflow mock-up somewhere online and tweet out the link using the hash tag #WPAppItUp
- We will review all prototypes and will contact the developers who submit the best ones and send them a special Mango developer device
Summer of Must Have XBox Games on Windows Phone
The Xbox Team has been busy as well these past few weeks with their Six Weeks of Smash Hit Games.
Happy Coding this Summer I am looking forward to seeing another 25,000+ apps! – Dave