Introducing Visual Studio Mobile Center (Preview)

During this morning’s Connect(); 2016 keynote, I introduced the preview of Visual Studio Mobile Center, a set of cloud services for building and managing your mobile apps. Mobile Center is designed for all apps targeting iOS and Android, including apps written in Swift, Objective-C, Java, Xamarin, and React Native.

Mission Control for your Mobile Apps

Delivering excellent mobile experiences requires going beyond frameworks and IDEs—developers also need services to continuously build, test, distribute, and monitor their apps so that they can quickly iterate and improve. Many teams cobble together a workflow using some of these services from different tools and products. But this is time-consuming and distracts you from your actual mission of delivering a great app.

This is why we built Mobile Center: a mission control for mobile apps that brings together all the cloud and lifecycle services that help developers deliver high quality apps faster. You can build, test, distribute, and monitor your apps and easily add backend cloud services to scale your app to millions of users on demand.

There are many great features included in the Preview, with even more to come. Here’s what you can do today:

  • Build your apps automatically with every pull request
  • Test apps on thousands of real-world devices
  • Distribute passing builds to beta testers
  • Monitor apps for crashes and bugs
  • Learn about real world usage with mobile analytics
  • Connect to a mobile backend for automatic scaling and to add important cloud services like offline data sync, tabular data storage, and end-user authentication services

These services are designed to work in concert to provide a simple, logical end-to-end workflow that lets you focus on building great apps, but you can also use them independently. If you just want mobile testing or beta distribution, for example, you can choose just those services. You can even use our public REST APIs, open-source SDKs, and command-line tools to integrate them in your own workflows.

Mobile Center is the next generation of our existing mobile developers services, including HockeyApp and Xamarin Test Cloud. Later next year, Mobile Center will show all of your new and existing HockeyApp and Test Cloud apps to ensure a seamless transition for those customers.

It’s easy to get started. Request an invitation and once approved, sign in with your existing HockeyApp credentials, GitHub account, or Microsoft Account. Then, connect your apps and kick off some builds. The preview is free, with some metering to ensure everyone has a chance to use the services and provide feedback.

What’s next

Future versions of Mobile Center will include expanded platform support for Cordova and the Universal Windows Platform, as well as additional cloud services such as push notifications and advanced analytics.

Sign up now and let us know what you think!

Nat Friedman, Corporate Vice President, Mobile Developer Tools@natfriedman

Nat is CVP for the Mobile Developer Tools team at Microsoft. He co-founded Xamarin, Inc. with Miguel de Icaza in 2011 and served as CEO through acquisition by Microsoft in 2016. Earlier in his career, Nat served as CTO for the Linux business at Novell, co-founded Ximian with Miguel in 1999, and co-founded and served as chairman of the GNOME foundation in 1997. He is passionate about building products that delight developers. Nat has two degrees from MIT and has been writing software for 27 years. He is an avid traveler, active angel investor, and a private pilot.