Last month, we released Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5, which came with awesome new features, including the iOS Remoted Simulator becoming available to all developers, live XAML previewing in Android emulators with the Xamarin Live Player, new Xamarin.Forms project templates for .NET Standard, and improvements to the Mac pairing mechanism.
Today, we’re excited to build on that progress with the release of Visual Studio 2017 version 15.6 Preview 2. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what was added this release, including macOS environment provisioning, iOS WiFi deployment, live XAML previewing in the Remoted iOS Simulator, and more!
Automatic macOS Provisioning
Building iOS apps with Visual Studio on Windows just got even easier with a brand new feature called automatic macOS provisioning. Rather than manually maintaining a Mac build machine, all you need to do is connect to the Mac, and we’ll handle the heavy lifting of installing and configuring your build machine with the correct Xamarin.iOS and Mono bits, all from Visual Studio.
Below, you can see the complete flow of connecting to a brand new Mac with only Xcode installed:
iOS WiFi Deployment
The Remoted iOS Simulator, which allows developers to test and debug iOS apps entirely in Visual Studio on Windows, is now available to all editions of Visual Studio (as of version 15.5), including the free Community Edition! The simulator supports functionality such as location simulation, rotation, gestures, and even includes functionality that the iOS simulator on Mac does not, like multi-touch. This provides a great simulator experience for developers building iOS apps on Windows, but what about devices?
With Visual Studio 2017 version 15.6, you can now deploy your iOS apps over the network with WiFi deployment, no cables required! After setting up a wireless device in Xcode, it shows up in Visual Studio just like a normal deploy target.
Live XAML Previewing with the iOS Simulator
The Xamarin Live Player enables developers to continuously deploy, test, and debug their apps using just Visual Studio and an iOS or Android device. Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5 added support to preview real-time XAML changes directly in the Android emulator without requiring a recompile or redeploy. This release brings that functionality to the Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows.
To use this feature, select an iOS simulator from the deployment targets dropdown and choose Live Run Current View using the context menu, keyboard shortcut, or the banner at the top of each XAML file.
Machine Learning with CoreML
Visual Studio 2017 version 15.6 also adds support for the CoreML framework that was introduced in iOS 11. With this framework, iOS apps can take advantage of trained machine learning models to perform tasks using the CoreML framework.
So much more!
This release also includes Xamarin.iOS 11.8 and Xamarin.Android 8.1, improvements to design-time build performance for Android developers (which affects solution load and provides metadata for IntelliSense, among other things), and static analysis for Xamarin.iOS projects.
To get started with the previews today, download the Visual Studio Preview installer, and select the Mobile .NET (Xamarin) workload just as you did for your stable installation. Remember, Visual Studio previews are installed side-by-side your current installation and are sandboxed from your production development environment.
If you decide you no longer want to use the preview, simply use the Visual Studio Installer to uninstall any preview instance. While your stable installation should not be affected by doing this, we do recommend running a “Repair” on your other installation afterward as a precaution.
There’s so many reasons to try Visual Studio 2017 version 15.6 Preview 2, so give it a try and let us know what you think via Help -> Report a Problem in Visual Studio, on Developer Community, or reach out directly on Twitter.