September 25, 2014

Is the iOS Unified API for me?

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We recently shipped the Unified API for Xamarin.iOS. The Unified API is a huge step forward for Xamarin.iOS, allowing a single source code to produce both 32 and 64-bit iOS Applications, a more streamlined and consistent API, and a much better story for sharing code with Xamarin.Mac applications.

64-bit iOS apps, which until recently could only be run on the most recent devices (iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad Mini Retina), can now also run on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. This is fantastic news, but before you convert your apps to the Unified API, there are a couple of important things to consider, as the Xamarin toolchain matures to match the API.

As of today, the most compelling reason to switch to the Unified API is if you want to create app extensions, which requires developers to produce both 32 and 64-bit binaries to Apple. You can create a new application project using the Unified API or you can follow these instructions to update an existing Xamarin.iOS app.

There are currently some limitations on apps using the Unified API which I’ve outlined below:

Components

Unfortunately, existing Xamarin.iOS components need to be re-built against the Unified API, so while we (and the community) are working to update the component code, you will not be able to include these in your app. A workaround for open-source projects is to download and compile the code yourself as part of your Unified API project.

NuGet Support

NuGet will support Unified packages starting with version 2.8.3, a new build is now available at CodePlex.

Custom Control Designer Support

Our designer currently does not have the ability to render your custom controls in the editing surface when you use the Unified API. We are working on this.

Moving Forward

Xamarin is prioritizing updating our components so that you can start using them in your Unified API iOS apps, as well as updating the iOS Designer custom control renderer.

Our recommendation therefore is this: if you don’t need to utilize the App Extensions framework today, hold off on moving to our preview Unified API until the toolchain and components have caught up.

Thanks!

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Xamarin Evolve 2014 is Officially Sold Out!

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Xamarin Evolve 2014 banner with dates (October 6-10) and location (Atlanta, Georgia)Xamarin Evolve has sold out for the second year in a row, this year at twice the attendees—over 1,200—and with an additional day of conference sessions.

Those of you who can’t make it to Atlanta will be able to experience part of the conference with us. Live stream of the main stage at Xamarin Evolve 2014 will begin with the Keynote on Wednesday, October 8th at 9 am ET on the conference website. We will continue to stream the main stage sessions for the remainder of the conference.

Many thanks to our speakers and sponsors who are helping make this an unforgettable event. And thanks to our incredible developer community – we can’t wait to delight you at Xamarin Evolve 2014.

See you in 11 days!

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September 24, 2014

Launch of Xamarin Test Cloud

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Xamarin Test Cloud LogoToday we are proud to announce the public launch of Xamarin Test Cloud, with over 1,000 real devices available to help you build better apps, and ensure they work on each one.

The state of mobile testing today is primitive. Last month we ran a survey that found that nearly 80% of mobile developers are relying primarily on manual testing in their attempts to deliver great app experiences. And yet, more than 75% told us that the quality of their mobile apps is either “very important” or “mission critical.”

Continuous testing with Xamarin Test CloudWe created Xamarin Test Cloud to solve this problem. We believe that testing is not something you should do at the end of the development cycle, just before submitting to the app store. Instead, your app should be continuously tested during development in an automated, scalable way. Your developers should be writing user interface tests as they develop the app, and commits shouldn’t be merged until the tests pass.

Once you have an automated test suite, even a simple one, you can easily verify that your app works on the hundreds of device variants in use by your customers, before you ship the app to them.

Doing this on your own is expensive and difficult. It’s simply impractical for developers to purchase hundreds of devices themselves, manage a giant device library, ensure coverage with every test run, and merge test results from large-scale tests performed multiple times per day.

With Xamarin Test Cloud, you can create your own test scripts using our powerful testing framework, run them locally against emulators or devices, and then press a button to run the same tests on as many devices as you would like in the cloud. We even integrate with CI systems like Jenkins and TFS, so that your tests run automatically.

We know that Xamarin Test Cloud is the best mobile QA tool available on the market, with one of the most trusted support teams in the industry, and we are excited to make it available to all mobile teams today. But you don’t have to take our word for it – check out what other developers are saying below.

If you’re interested in learning more about Xamarin Test Cloud, I invite you to join me for a webinar on Tuesday, September 30th, at 10am PDT.

Register Now


 
 
“Xamarin Test Cloud helped us identify and fix critical device-specific issues in the latest release of Foursquare before we released.”

– Mike Singleton, Software Engineer at Foursquare

 
“Xamarin Test Cloud is our path to a low maintenance, high quality and regression-free future. Not only is the product strikingly effective, but the team has been amazing — with their help we’ve seen immediate value from our investment. We’re excited about where this can take our team and product.”

– Sean Beausoleil, Mailbox Engineering Lead at Dropbox

 
Flipboard Logo“As a QA Engineer, I am really enjoying Xamarin Test Cloud because it offers me a broad range of Android and iOS devices. It gives me the ability to have more test coverage and to discover issues sooner. And what’s particularly helpful is that Xamarin offers exceptional service and support that I can depend on every day.”

– Derrick Lam, QA Engineer at Flipboard

 
Expensify logo“Xamarin Test Cloud helps us ensure that critical features of Expensify look and perform great on every Android device imaginable.”

– Tom Jacobs, Software Engineer at Expensify

 
Trello Logo“Xamarin Test Cloud has helped us catch important bugs in challenging scenarios, and to ensure they never occur again.”

– Hamid Palo, Android Team Lead at Trello

 
ebay classified group logo“Xamarin’s Calabash framework, and their Xamarin Test Cloud, plays a fundamental role in our continued effort to maintain the highest possible quality of our products and also in securing a short time-to-market. Our test setup takes care of most of the tedious work doing regression tests and gives our team quick feedback, while helping us delivering new features at a fast predictive speed. Whenever we have encountered problems, the Xamarin service and support has been excellent.”

– Niels Frydenholm, Software Architect at eBay Classifieds

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September 22, 2014

Video: Xamarin.Forms – Over 90% Code Re-Use And Access to Native Features

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One of the features I love about the Xamarin 3 Platform is Xamarin.Forms, which enables you to build beautiful, native UIs for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone from a single shared C# codebase.  In an enterprise CRM demo app that I’m currently writing with James Montemagmo (which we’ll make publicly available in the next few weeks), we’re getting over 93% code re-use, which encompasses the UI, business logic, and cloud connectivity.

A critical point to call out is that Xamarin.Forms provides the capability to access platform-specific implementations via a feature called the Dependency Service. For example, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone all provide GPS and Text to Speech (TTS) capability, but their interfaces and implementations all differ.

I recorded this short video with Craig Dunn, Xamarin technical writer and Developer Evangelist, that shows the basics, code samples, and a demo for Xamarin.Forms running on different devices. Watch it in HD and full-screen to see the code.

Sample Code:

The code we used to put this demo together is available on Github here. Download it and try it out for yourself!

Accessing GPS & Location Features:

The sample code illustrates how to access GPS info on Android and iOS devices. More detailed guides are available on the Xamarin Developer site and on Microsoft MSDN. Links for this info are at: Android, iOS, Windows Phone.

Using Text to Speech (TTS):

The Xamarin developer site has a good overview of the Dependency Service that utilizes Text to Speech as an example. There’s code on how to implement it across Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. It’s available here.

Come See Us At Xamarin Evolve 2014!

Xamarin Evolve 2014 is October 6-10 in Atlanta, Georgia. Craig and I are both presenting, along with many other talented developers and speakers from Xamarin, Microsoft, Facebook, and Github (and many others).

  • Your First Xamarin.Forms AppCraig Dunn
  • Architecting Authentication, Security, and Extending Existing Systems for Enterprise Mobile AppsSteve Yi

If you’re still on the fence about attending, I encourage you to sign up – not only is it an opportunity to learn and network with other attendees and Xamarin engineers, there’s also fantastic training.

See you in Atlanta!

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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: Brent Schooley

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This is the seventh 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 Brent SchooleyToday we’re featuring Brent Schooley, a Developer Evangelist at Twilio, who has been working with C# since 2005 and iOS since 2009. A strong advocate of building mobile apps with C# starting with MonoTouch 1.0, and carrying through to today with Xamarin, Brent has a passion for both development and design and is the author of “Designing for Windows 8” from Apress. He is a Microsoft MVP in Client Development.

Why did you get into software development?

I have always been interested in computers. It started with the Apple II playing games off of floppy disks. It continued in 5th grade when I wrote code for a Commodore 64 during school hours. I built my first website when I was in 6th grade. I went to college for computer engineering and ultimately pursued software development after graduation. Computers have always been a major part of my life.

How long have you been doing mobile development?

I have been doing mobile development since the release of the iOS SDK in 2008.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a mobile developer?

The biggest lesson I have learned is that developing and designing mobile user interfaces is completely different from desktop and web.

quotation markTHE NATURE OF MOBILE DEVICE USAGE IS VERY ON-THE-GO AND APPS MUST BE CONSTRUCTED TO ACCOMPLISH TASKS AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE. YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME TO MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION, SINCE A TYPICAL APP SESSION LASTS A LITTLE LONGER THAN A MINUTE.

What devices are you carrying around with you right now?

Retina iPad mini on T-Mobile, Gold iPhone 5s on Verizon, 2nd gen Nexus 7, and Nokia Lumia Icon.

What are your favorite mobile apps and why?

  • Gmail – it’s my preferred email client
  • Tweetbot – definitely my favorite Twitter client
  • Facebook – because it’s where my friends are
  • Flowdock – keeps me connected to my team

What will attendees get out of your talk?

Attendees will learn how to take any of the many Objective-C libraries that are available on sites like Cocoa Controls and make them work in Xamarin via C# bindings.

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

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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.

Logos for MobileIron, AirWatch by VMware, Good Technology, MaaS360 by Fiberlink, an IBM Company, and Arxan TechnologiesJoin 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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