2016 was a huge year for the Xamarin team. With your help, we had our biggest, best Evolve. We joined the Microsoft family, open-sourced our software, and helped bring Xamarin to millions of new developers as part of Visual Studio (and Visual Studio for Mac!). But 2017 will be an even bigger year for mobile development, and that’s good news for all of us. With that in mind, here are four fast, fun, and free things you can do right now to get ready for the big year and hit the ground running in January.

1. Sign up for Mobile Center

If you do only one thing you can do to boost your mobile output in the coming year, make it this. Visual Studio Mobile Center is mission control for mobile apps—a fully-integrated that brings together all the lifecycle services you need to build, test, distribute, and monitor your apps.

mission-control-for-your-mobile-apps

We’ll be adding features constantly while the service is in Preview, but here’s what you can do right now:

  • 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

We built Mobile Center for everyone—you don’t even need to use Xamarin. Mobile Center supports apps built in Java, Swift, Objective-C, and, of course, Xamarin, and we’ll be adding more platforms soon.

You can get started right away. Just sign up with your Microsoft or GitHub credentials and you’ll be up and running.

2. Take a free class—or a dozen—at Xamarin University

Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a free service that provides software, cloud services, and training for developers of all stripes. If you haven’t tried it, you should. One of the many reasons is that for mobile developers, that training includes 12 recorded classes and 3 recorded lectures from Xamarin University. If you like what you see, sign up for a free Xamarin University trial and dig into our self-guided learning classes for a more immersive classroom experience.

3. Learn and Teach with Workbooks

Xamarin WorkbooksLast month at Microsoft Connect(); we announced the general availability of Workbooks, an interactive learning tool that lets you run live code as you step through interactive learning experiences. We’ve assembled a Workbooks portal with dozens of tutorials that will keep you busy well into the new year. And if you’re feeling the spirit of giving, write your own Workbook and let us know how it goes!

4. Get ready for iOS10 and Android Nougat

NougatiOS10 GraphicThe second half of 2016 brought us two new mobile operating systems with pretty significant enhancements and modifications to core services. There are a ton of great features fr developers, like SiriKit in iOS, multi-window support in Android, or enhanced notifications in both, but it’s a lot to unpack at once. We had James Montemagno and Mike James do the work for you in our most popular Webinar of the year, Getting the Most out of iOS 10 and Android N with Xamarin for Visual Studio. In the Webinar, James and Mike provide an overview of what’s new, walk through code samples explaining how to leverage new functionality, and show you how do take advantage of it all without sacrificing backward compatibility.

Thank you all for a great 2016, and stay tuned for a lot more features and services coming in the new year!