September 19, 2014

Add Some Punch to Your Apps with iOS 8

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iOS 8 iconWith over 4,000 APIs, and 12 major new or upgraded frameworks and features, iOS 8 is one of Apple’s biggest OS releases yet. Now, Xamarin is here to get you started with the new goodies and 64 bit support with the iOS and Mac Unified API.

To get building apps that take advantage of the new iOS 8 frameworks and features today:

  1. Download and install the latest Xcode.
  2. Update Xamarin.
  3. Check out the Introduction to iOS 8 Guide.

While you’re downloading Xcode and installing the updates, watch the Get Ready for iOS 8 webinar for a curated overview of the new features, hosted by Xamarin Developer Evangelist Mike Bluestein.

If you want to see the new features in action for yourself, you can also download and play with our new iOS 8 Samples.

iOS 8 has a ton of new frameworks and features, so when you’re ready to continue your journey and dive deep, check out the Xamarin guides, which will help you utilize the new features and add some sparkle to your apps.

Provide Rich OS Integration with App Extensions

App Extensions iconApp Extensions allow for apps to deliver unprecedented functionality through deep OS integration. With Extensions, applications can now offer features like the Today Widgets that live on the notification screen, custom keyboards, and sharing extensions, to name just a few. To learn how to create your own, check out the Intro to App Extensions guide.

Access Secrets Biometrically with Touch ID

Touch Id iconThe new TouchID APIs allow app developers to integrate with Apple’s biometric touch sensor to authenticate users and restrict access to data and functionality within your apps. Additionally, with TouchID, access to the keychain and secure storage is available biometrically. For more information, check out the Introduction to TouchID guide.

Build Custom Photo Galleries and Create the Next Instagram with Photo Kit

Photo Kit iconPhoto Kit is a new framework that makes working with the image library a snap. With Photo Kit, you can more easily fetch photos, create custom galleries, and even apply filters and modify them en masse. For an example of using the Photo Kit framework in Xamarin, see Mike Bluestein’s Build Great Photo Experiences in iOS 8 with Photo Kit blog post.

Use Manual Camera Controls to Create Highly Stylized Photos

Camera API iconThe AVFoundation Framework got a big upgrade in iOS with the addition of the all new manual camera controls. With them, you can get low-level access to the camera hardware, enabling the iPhone’s camera to be controlled more like traditional cameras. Jump in and read the Intro to Manual Camera Controls guide for more information.

Take your iCloud Integration to the Next Level with Cloud Kit

Cloud Kit iconCloud Kit expands on the existing iCloud APIs to enable much more sophisticated integration with iCloud, and is targeted at developers who want to take advantage of iCloud to handle cloud-based data persistence and retrieval. It offers a much simpler integration story than previously, while offering a much more feature-rich experience. For more information, check out the Intro to Cloud Kit guide.

Share Documents with other apps with the Document Picker

Document Picker iconThe Document Picker allows applications to reach beyond the app sandbox to share and access documents with other applications. With the Document Picker, you can now create complex document workflows between more than one application. For more information on working with it, check out the Intro to the Document Picker guide.

Work with Calendars and Events in Event Kit

With iOS 8, Apple expanded on the Event Kit framework to allow easier access to, and manipulation of calendars and events. For more info, check out the Intro to Event Kit guide.

Simplify UI Creation Across All iOS Devices with Unified Storyboards

Unified Storyboards iconWith the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, creating user interfaces that work well across all iOS devices got much more complicated. Fortunately, Apple introduce Unified Storyboards to simplify the process by allowing you to create single screens that scale for different devices. For more information, see the Intro to Unified Storyboards guide.

Integrate 3D Graphics into your App with Scene Kit

Scene Kit iconSceneKit is a 3D scene graph API that makes integrating 3D content into your application and causal 3D games a breeze. For an example of using the Scene Kit framework in Xamarin, see Mike Bluestein’s Lights, Camera, Action – 3D in iOS 8 with Scene Kit blog post.

Create 2D Games Quickly with Sprite Kit

Sprite Kit iconSprite Kit, the 2D game framework from Apple, has some interesting new features in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, including integration with Scene Kit, lighting, and physics enhancements. For an example of using the SpriteKit framework in Xamarin, see Mike Bluestein’s New Sprite Kit Physics Features in iOS 8 blog post.

Browse the Entire List of New APIs and Features

These are some, but not all, of the new features in iOS 8. For a comprehensive list, check out the API change log and release notes.

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Xamarin Evolve 2014 Speaker Spotlight: Rachel Reese

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This is the sixth post in our Xamarin Evolve 2014 “Speaker Spotlight” series, helping you get to know a little bit more about some of the amazing speakers who will be contributing at this year’s conference.

Photo of Rachel ReeseToday’s spotlight features Rachel Reese, a long-time software engineer and math geek who recently relocated to Nashville, TN to work with the fabulous folks at Firefly Logic, as well as to be a part of the Nashville functional programming scene. She currently helps run the Nashville Xamarin user group, @NashXam, and is an ASPInsider and an F# MVP. You can hear Rachel’s talk, “1) Write Cross-Platform Apps with F# & Xamarin. 2) ??? 3) Profit!: Mobile App Development in F#” in the Xamarin Platform track at Xamarin Evolve.

How long have you been doing mobile development?

Actually, not very long (around eight months). I’d been hearing about Xamarin and F# development for about two years, but it took my move to Nashville for me to get really involved in mobile development. In just under a year, I’ve jumped all in — what’s there to not love about using my F# and C# skills to build iOS and Android apps? This is awesome!

Why did you get into software development?

Oh, good question. I was a math/physics major in college. The summer after my freshman year, I started a research job with a high-energy physics lab. One of the grad students sat me down on my first day, handed me a book on C, and told me that I wouldn’t really be useful until I understood most of it. I spent the summer going through the book meticulously. I took a couple programming courses in school, as well, so when I graduated (after much, much hemming and hawing about whether or not to go to grad school) I opted for a job with a friend of mine that only required I know a bit about HTML. It was all downhill from there!

What is your favorite line of code that you have ever written?

quotation markI CAN’T THINK OF A SPECIFIC FAVORITE LINE OF CODE OFF-HAND, BUT THAT MOMENT YOU FINISH PIPELINING A LONG CHAIN OF FUNCTIONS IN F# AND EVERYTHING JUST WORKS? *SIGH* <3

What will attendees get out of your Xamarin Evolve talk?

A basic understanding of how and why using F# is a fabulous alternative to C# for mobile developers.

How much do you love curly braces and why?

Curly braces!?

*puts on shades*

Where I am, I don’t need no stinkin’ curly braces.

What are you doing when you’re not doing mobile development with Xamarin?

I’m confused. Life outside mobile development with Xamarin!? That… exists?

Traveling (both near and far)! Fun fact: my two dogs have been to more countries than I suspect most Americans have (5: France, Germany, Spain, Canada, US).

Also, cooking. I have an awful/amazing habit of buying spices, infused balsamics, and kitchen trinkets. Sometimes I concoct awesome things, sometimes not so much, but it’s all fun.

If you missed the earlier posts in this series, click through to read about Jesse Liberty, Jon Skeet, Jonathan Peppers, Laurent Bugnion, and Paul Betts.

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Dropbox Joins Xamarin Evolve 2014

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Dropbox LogoWe are very excited to welcome Dropbox as a Silver Sponsor for Xamarin Evolve 2014. Dropbox  joins an exciting list of industry leaders at Xamarin Evolve this year, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, Twilio, Amazon, and more.

Photo of Steve Marx Steve Marx, Developer Advocate at Dropbox, will present, “Cross-Platform Syncing with Dropbox,” in the Mobile Ecosystem track. In this demo-heavy talk, Steve will walk attendees through the challenges of cross-platform syncing and the tools that Dropbox provides for mobile developers.

Don’t miss your ticket to mobile expertise – register now for Xamarin Evolve 2014.

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September 18, 2014

Top Mobile Security Experts Come to Xamarin Evolve 2014

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The global mobile economy is growing at an incredible rate, and with that explosive growth come risks and responsibilities for app developers. We’re excited to bring together top mobile security experts at Xamarin Evolve 2014 for a special Panel on Mobile Security Best Practices.

AirWatch, MaaS360, Arxan, Good Technology, and Mobile Iron logosJoin moderator Steve Hall, Director of Mobile Enterprise Mobility at Xamarin, along with panelists Erich Stuntebeck, Director of Research at AirWatch by VMware, Anar Taori, Senior Director of Product Management at MaaS360 by Fiberlink, an IBM company, Vince Arneja, Vice President, Product Management at Arxan Technologies, John Britton, Director of the Office of the CTO at Good Technology, and Sean Ginevan, Director of Corporate Strategy at MobileIron, to discuss how to best secure sensitive data in your apps, on devices, and over the wire.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from industry experts – register now for your ticket to mobile expertise at Xamarin Evolve 2014.

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Google Joins Xamarin Evolve 2014

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Google LogoWe’re thrilled to announce that Google is joining Xamarin Evolve 2014 as a Gold sponsor. Google is the latest addition to the growing list of fantastic sponsors and speakers, including Microsoft, IBM, Github, Salesforce, and more, attending the cross-platform mobile development event of the year from October 6-10 in Atlanta, Georgia.


peter friese roundGoogle Developer Advocate Peter Friese will provide a rundown of the core services available via Google Play Services in his talk, “Google Play Services Rock.” Attendees will get an overview of the new APIs that come as a part of the latest version of Google Play Services, and dive into some of the lesser known features that enable developers to build apps that truly rock.

Register now to join Xamarin and Google for the mobile development event of the year.

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September 17, 2014

Webinar Recording: Android L and So Much More

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The Android L Developer Preview introduced a plethora of new APIs for developers to take advantage of, including Material Design, notifications, and new animations, to name a few. Xamarin developers can access these APIs right now with our preliminary support in Xamarin.Android.

In this webinar, Xamarin Developer Evangelist James Montemagno walks viewers through the top new and updated APIs in the release. In addition to everything new in the Android L Developer Preview, he also covers new features in Google Play Services, Support Libraries, Android Wear, and Android TV SDKs.

Access the slides for this webinar here.

Additional Resources

If you’d like further information on getting started with Android L and Xamarin, follow the steps outlined in this blog post.

Xamarin Evolve 2014 attendees, be sure to check out our Android track for even more information. If you are not already attending the conference, you can register here.

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September 16, 2014

Xamarin Evolve 2014 Speaker Spotlight: Paul Betts

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This is the fifth post in our Xamarin Evolve 2014 “Speaker Spotlight” series, helping you get to know a little bit more about some of the amazing speakers who will be contributing at this year’s conference.

Photo of Paul BettsPaul Betts is a C# Hacker at GitHub, and the author of several open source .NET projects, including Refit, Splat! and Akavache. Paul graduated from The Ohio State University, and likes to spend his spare time hacking on open source software, playing guitar and bass, and in general is within ε of really awesome. Don’t miss Paul’s talk at Xamarin Evolve, “Writing Mobile Apps the Github Way,” in the Mobile Best Practices track.

How long have you been doing mobile development?

My interest in mobile development started when iPhone first released their non-web SDK, but I really got started in mobile development when I added Xamarin support to ReactiveUI, which was about two years ago.

What are your favorite mobile apps and why?

My favorite app these days is Dropbox’s Mailbox. The usability designers who created that app are absolutely brilliant; while I don’t find it to be a particularly visually beautiful application (so much white everywhere!), using it is an absolute joy. If you’re building any kind of content-management/TODO app, study this thing like a graduate student.

What is your favorite platform to develop for and why?

Android!

quotation markTHERE’S SO MUCH COOL STUFF YOU CAN DO ON ANDROID (WITH SOME WORK!) THAT YOU SIMPLY CANNOT DO ON iOS OR WP. WHILE IT’S SOMETIMES MORE FRUSTRATING TO WORK ON ANDROID, AND INVOLVES SOME PSYCHIC POWERS TO GET INTO THE HEAD OF THE GOOGLE ENGINEER THAT DESIGNED THE COMPONENT, THE SCENARIOS THAT ANDROID SUPPORTS ARE FAR MORE VARIED. ANDROID IS THE NEW RASPBERRY PI: YOU CAN INSTALL A TINY ANDROID DEVICE ANYWHERE!

What devices are you carrying around with you right now?

The devices I carry around with me are usually:

  • An HTC One (M7) – It’s getting a little long in the tooth, but getting the Developer Edition meant that it was super hackable and easy to flash with the latest software, given a bit of adb and fastboot work. It’s a great device except for the camera.
  • LG G Watch – I couldn’t wait until the Moto 360 came out – I’m excited to see if I can come up with a cool watch app!
  • nVidia Shield – It’s an Android phone with a super-powered graphics chip and an HDMI out, bolted to a game controller. I use it to play old SNES games and write software for it.

What are your favorite open source libraries, and why?

My favorite libraries? The Xamarin ones I write, of course! I’ve got a lot of them:

The common theme around most of these libraries is that they let you write cross-platform code in a Portable Library, and the library handles the platform details. For example, ModernHttpClient brings the best platform-specific networking libraries to your app, but wraps them in a familiar HttpClient interface that works everywhere.

Separate from that, I love all of the great work that Jake Wharton does; he’s a great Android developer and a lot of my library ideas come from him.

What is your favorite line of code that you have ever written?

My favorite line of code I’ve ever written is here.

To explain it though, I need to back up. The goal of this class is to provide a mapped operation queue – i.e. you schedule a Task with a specific Key – Tasks with different keys run in parallel, and Tasks with the same key run sequentially.

The entire behavior of this class, this complex notion that would take pages and pages of buggy, unverifiable threading/locking code, is reduced to a single (relatively) beautiful statement in C# with Rx. What’s even cooler, is that the notion of scheduling priority (i.e. important operations should go to the head of the line), was added simply by changing a data structure, from using a normal Queue in a SemaphoreSubject, to using a PriorityQueue.

If you missed the earlier posts in this series, click through to read about Jesse Liberty, Jon Skeet, Jonathan Peppers, and Laurent Bugnion.

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September 15, 2014

Web Series: Better Know a Xamarin

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You may have met a Xamarin or two at Evolve, developer group, or at one of our other awesome events. However, there are many Xamarins working hard behind the scenes and out in the field around the world to bring you this amazing development platform. Better Know a Xamarin is a new web series that you can find on our YouTube Channel, where we sit down with our fellow Xamarins to see what they do here at Xamarin and what their passions are.

BetterKnowAXamarin

To kick things off, we have four episodes for your enjoyment. So sit back and get ready to Better Know a Xamarin.

Morgan Forsythe - Marketing Operations Manager

Jon Goldberger – Customer Support Engineer

Aaron Bockover - Mac Team Lead

Alex Soto - Software Engineer (Components)

The web series will continue to roll out new videos each week, so be sure to follow our Twitter account or subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates. If you’re interested in joining our growing global team, check out our available positions here.

Want to better know a Xamarin in person? Meet us in Atlanta, Georgia for Xamarin Evolve, October 6th-10th. Register for your ticket to mobile expertise here.

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September 12, 2014

Webinar Recording: Get Ready for iOS 8

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On September 17th, iOS 8 will launch with over 4,000 new APIs, making it one of the largest iOS releases ever. Xamarin developers can start building for iOS 8 now, with support currently in the alpha channel for App Extensions, TouchID Authentication, PhotoKit, HealthKit, HomeKit, Apple Pay, and more.

In this webinar, Xamarin Developer Evangelist Mike Bluestein provides an overview of the top new and updated APIs, and how to incorporate all of the great new features into your app.

Download the slides for the Get Ready for iOS 8 Webinar here.

Additional Resources

To ensure you get the most out of the exciting changes in iOS 8 using Xamarin and C#, we’ve created an extensive set of resources to help you get started that are outlined in this blog post.

If you’re already registered for Xamarin University, we’ll be debuting a new class on September 17, 2014, that will help you update your apps for iOS 8. If you’re not already registered for Xamarin University, you can learn more about our unlimited, live mobile app development training here.

Lastly, if you are coming to Xamarin Evolve 2014, we will be covering iOS extensively, including iOS 8. If you are not already attending the conference, you can register here.

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September 11, 2014

Xamarin Evolve 2014 Speaker Spotlight: Laurent Bugnion

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This is the fourth post in our Xamarin Evolve 2014 “Speaker Spotlight” series, helping you get to know a little bit more about some of the amazing speakers who will be contributing at this year’s conference.

Photo of Laurent BugnionToday we’re getting to know Laurent Bugnion, the Senior Director of IdentityMine in Zurich, Switzerland. This year will mark his 8th year as a Microsoft Client Development MVP and his second year as a Microsoft Regional Director. He is also the author of the well-known open-source framework MVVMLight for Windows Phone, Windows 8, WPF, and Silverlight. In his free time, Laurent writes for MSDN Magazine and various other publications, as well as on GalaSoft, his blog. Be sure to see Laurent at Xamarin Evolve giving the talk, “Building Cross-Platform Applications with Xamarin, Xamarin.Forms and MVVM Light.”

Why did you get into software development?

I was an electric engineer and started doing low level coding for embedded controllers twenty years ago.

quotation markI GOT HOOKED – I JUST LOVE CODING AND SOLVING PROBLEMS. THERE IS AN AESTHETICS TO BEAUTIFUL CODE THAT IS REALLY APPEALING TO MY CREATIVE SIDE.

How long have you been doing mobile development?

I started doing programming about 20 years ago and worked on all kind of systems, from embedded controllers to full blown PCs. I am still coding for multiple systems and mobile is, of course, an important part of it. I did some code for the Palm line of devices, but it was more of a hobby. I really started coding professionally for mobile devices when Microsoft released the first Windows Phones.

What is your favorite platform to develop for and why?

After working on many different platforms, I would say that my favorite remains the various XAML/C#. I am able to create UI in XAML that I cannot easily create with other platforms, and XAML/C# is available for many devices, from TVs (XBOX) and phones to computers and tablets. Also the tooling (especially Blend) is just fantastic, especially when you work closely with designers (which I do). Of course, on Android and iOS without XAML, working with C# is nice, too, but I do find the UI on these platforms quite complicated to build for compared to the simple beauty of XAML.

What devices are you carrying around with you right now?

I carry the Nokia Lumia 1020, which is my most trusted companion, all the time. I love this device, especially the amazing pictures it takes, and the large screen.

I also usually carry my Kindle Paperwhite. I love to read and the reading comfort is just fantastic on this device, though I also read on my Lumia when I don’t have my Kindle with me.

I recently fell in love with a Dell Venue Pro 8, on which I installed Windows Pro 8.1. It’s an awesome little device where I can run any Windows application, including legacy ones, and has great battery life.

Finally most of my work is done on my Surface, and I cannot wait to get my new Surface Pro 3 at the end of August!!

What are your favorite mobile apps and why?

I love geolocation, and it still feels somehow magical when an app knows where I am. This can be a huge help, especially when traveling. Also, anything related to photography.

What will attendees get out of your talk?

Users of MVVM Light on Microsoft platforms love it because it isn’t overly complicated and “does the job”. Now, with the possibility to use MVVM Light on Xamarin, too, I want to build a knowledge base for new users. Some of them have never heard of MVVM, some of them know of it but have heard contradictory statements. There is a need for information, and this will help people to switch platforms more easily, as well.

If you missed the earlier posts in this series, click through to read about Jesse LibertyJon Skeet, and Jonathan Peppers.

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