Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First look at Windows Phone 8.1 Emulator

Hi! Hope you already know about the wonderful announcements made in Build 2014 recently about Windows, Azure and Windows Phone. So we are now in new era of Windows Phone as Windows Phone 8.1. I am here blogging on Windows Phone since it was in version 7. Journey continues and as a part of this ongoing long journey, today I am going to share what new things you can observe, analysis and utilize if you are planning to build Apps for Windows Phone 8.1. Many of us who have not yet installed the new bits might be under impression that it will not be very different emulator from 8.0. In reality you can see and experience tons of changes, some are small changes and some are totally new.

Windows Phone 8.1 SDK and/or Tools are now part of Visual Studio Update 2 RC. So now once you update your Visual Studio 2013 with this update, you are all set for building apps on Windows Phone 8.1. What only thing I don’t like here is I don’t get ISO for this and Update happens over the wire. It took lot of time (Almost 5-6 hours) to download and install, especially in countries like India where you have low bandwidth, it is painful. You can download Update 2 RC from here

New Windows Phone 8.1 Project :

First thing you will notice once you install tooling via Update 2 RC is Windows Phone Project Templates are now under Store Apps like shown below:


You can then choose Specific Template from Windows Phone Apps category like shown here:


So now we have 2 Set of Templates one with suffix (Windows Phone) and other with (Windows Phone Silverlight), so what is the difference and when to use what?

Answer is simple! If you have existing Windows Phone 8 App and if you wish to leverage some new features of 8.1 without modifying much of your current code then you need to take Windows Phone Silverlight App. Please visit here to know more about Silverlight Windows Phone 8.1 Project Templates If you take this template it does show you OS Switching dialog shown below:


If you choose Windows Phone Only Project Template (without Silverlight suffix) then your App will be by default taken to Windows Phone 8.1 Windows Runtime XAML(Same platform which used for building Windows 8 Apps). In this particular post I am purposefully not discussing things like Backward Compatibility and Universal Project App since I need to talk about it with you in great depth in my upcoming posts. So for the time being, let us quickly digest the different project templates. Another significant name change is for Panorama, Now Panorama is replaced with Hub. Let us talk more about Hub and WebView App templates in upcoming posts. So if you are planning to first do a Hello World and wish to put a MessageBox, it will not work as I said this project templates inclined towards Windows Runtime.

private async void btnClick_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)

{  MessageDialog msdlg = new MessageDialog("Hello World !!", "My First WP8.1 App");

await msdlg.ShowAsync();}

Home Screen :

Here is the First look of Emulator :


Once you run Emulator, you will notice couple of new things in Additional Tools as well as on Toolbar for Emulator, like now we have Multitouch Option here. This can be used to Test Multitouch scenarios. I have shown one scenario below where I am scaling one Image with this Multitouch.

image image

Volume Up / Down :

Now you can change the Volume by pressing “Volume Up/Down” key on emulator which will give you a quick dashboard to control Sound for Phone and Apps like shown below:


Additional Tools:

Most beautiful feature in Additional Tool I found is “Checkpoint”, Checkpoint helps you take Snapshot of your emulator state. You can Create or Restore old checkpoints and delete the same. Idea behind checkpoint is to fix and freeze the environment so that Developers don’t need to do common things repetitively like loading Contacts or Settings etc.


Another good additions are SD Card, Sensors and Notifications, I will talk about them with examples in coming posts. For today we will just have a look at them in a pictorial way.



Camera by default loads burst mode and not it shows couple of more options like Lens, Quick Front Camera toggling etc.



Much awaited Cortana helps you as your own Personal Digital Assistance. You can invoke it from Apps or from Search. You need to sign in with your Live Account on emulator to experience it. I played couple of Songs in front of my Laptop and guess what ! Cortana worked like Shaazam for me and identified what Music I am playing. This itself shows power of Cortana, Here is the first look:

image image

image image


Here is the new improved look of Calendar which now shows bit of Weather and also gives to look in different views like Day, Week, Month and Year.

image  image

Dialing / Calling:

Till Windows Phone 8 we use to Dial and Number and post call we use to Save the Number. Here in 8.1 now, once you type number and if you know its correct you can then save it right away by clicking on Save button on Dial Pad. Also it now shows Number of calls made by adding suffice (<Number of times dialed>). It also shows People icon next to number to navigate quickly to Contact. Also it is now showing Speed Dial.

image image


Developer Power Tools for Windows Phone 8.1 :

Here is the Quick Tool for profiling your Windows Phone 8.1 App which takes Traces (Performance Recorder),Application Verifier and Performance Monitor. It does not required to any new learning, it is easy and user friendly.


I hope with this little information shared above, you must have got glimpse of Windows Phone 8.1. Actually it is much more than that in reality. So let us explore more on Windows Phone 8.1 here in coming days. Let me know your feedback and keep visiting here for more Windows Phone 8.1 stuff.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Building Windows Phone Apps using App Studio Article in DNC.NET Magazine

Hi !

After a long gap.. I started writing again !

While my offline sessions continues, I wrote an article in leading .NET Developer Magazine DNC Magazine run by fellow MVP in Pune. It is the 11th Issue of this Magazine. I wrote a full length article covering all possible aspects of building Windows Phone Applications using App Studio Beta.

I highly recommend to Subscribe and Download the Magazine here . It covers lot of other wonderful .NET Articles too.

You can also read the complete App Studio Article on DotNetCurry site here.

Do check it out an let me know your feedback !.