MIX 11: New Windows Phone dev features

Joe Belfiore of the Windows Phone Program unveiled a slew of goodies to arrive this Autumn

Joe Belfiore of the Windows Phone Program unveiled a slew of goodies to arrive this Autumn

These and other exciting announcements were pushed out at this year’s MIX 2011, Microsoft’s annual web designer and developer conference.

Joe Belfiore of the Windows Phone Program announced a raft of new improvements, including greater access to sensors and raw camera data, more access to Live Tiles and the ringtone setting, better multitasking and a Motion Sensor API.

The upcoming Mango release will include support for IE9. Joe explained: "The core Web browsing engine on the phone that does HTML rendering and JavaScript and all that sort of stuff is the same code base moved over from the PC...You benefit because the way markup gets handled on the phone and the PC will be the same."

He went on to demonstrate that it will support HTML5 audio, and also background audio coming from the browser (audio continues to play after navigating out of the browser). The phone’s volume controls can even be used to pause the HTML audio when out of the browser.

Also announced were opportunities for developers to get much greater control of the OS: “We're enabling multiple Live Tiles per app, animations, ways for your code to update Live Tiles in the background without push. We're enabling you to access the ringtone setting so all of you can innovate and get ringtones out to users…. There will be support for TCPIP sockets. We have a built-in SQL database that you can use. A lot more launchers and choosers and better data access to the kinds of things that people pick when they use the launchers and choosers, and data access to the contacts and calendar store on the phone so you can more richly integrate your apps with the users' data.”

Joe went on to describe his vision of the “glance-and-go” platform, whereby frequently used features are easily accessible, even if they’re deep within an app. Mango will make it possible to pin Live Tiles on the home screen that deep link into apps. As an example, he demonstrated how it will be possible to place a deep link to the barcode scanning feature of the Amazon app onto a Live Tile. For those interested in augmented reality, he also unveiled a Motion Sensor API which handles the compass and gyro data so that it’s easy to develop motion-oriented apps, and noted that developers will have access to the raw camera data.

Also outlined were new multitasking capabilities: “We're implementing fast app switching. So, when a user navigates away from your app, it's just suspended and not put away totally. We try to keep it there as long as we can, as long as we have memory available, so if the user goes back, we wake it back instantly and they get an instant-resume experience.”

You can watch the keynotes here.

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