Windows Phone 8, let’s get the party started!

Finally the SDK is out and we can talk about all the great stuff that the SDK brings to us. There are some big changes with unified programming model, but also some differences, like HTML5/JScript not being there as a project template (you can still embed the browser control..) and XNA not being present but replaced with DirectX.

For a short capture of the coolest things with WP8 I would say these things everyone doing WP dev should check out and learn:

  • Lock screen – This is new thing to WP devs, pretty same to big Windows. Now you can provide background images and notifications to the lock screen of the phone, notification stuff is pulled from your program’s primary tile (text, icon, count) but background images you can define inside your app
  • Navigation – There’s a new WinRT based navigation API to use beside to old trustworthy API from 7.x. Now you can do actual navigation apps, that won’t die if user goes away from the app, but can continue to track on the background. You can also ask directions easily with ms-drive-to and ms-walk-to URI schemes within your app.
  • In App Speech support – Now you can actually integrate speech support to your own app with voice commands, speech recognition, and text-to-speech. Voice commands can be deep links to your app (HelloWorld show image), speech recognition you can use inside your app to command your app/game (vessel turn left) and text-to-speech is a “robot” speaking your text to the user.
  • Wallet – Create added value to your membership app, create coupons for your shopping app… endless possibilities here, NFC is the big thing here on WP8, and you should not pass up the opportunity to add these functionalities if applicable to your app.
  • In-app purchases – If you want to monetize your app, think about micropayments. Buy a new report template within your app, buy new tools/weapons in your game.. options are endless. Micropayments are the next sliced bread in WP marketplace, so don’t miss out on the opportunities they offer, and with this API, you got a solid backend ready with couple of easy steps within your app.
  • Localization of your apps -there’s now build in templates for this. Localization is one of they key elements to make money with your app in different marketplaces. There are really cheap crowdsourcing places to go to get your apps ready for example to China market, the user base is so huge that micropayments will definitely boost your income

Other noteworthy changes are the new map control, Pivot & Panorama ditched from SDK and moved to ROM, Bluetooth APIs, inclusion of Windows.NET.Networking, revamped storage apis, associating your app with certain filetypes and now the store compiles your .NET code in the cloud, ensuring the fastest possible startup for your apps at consumer devices. I’ll be posting more in detailed look for each of these categories later on.

About Jani Nevalainen

Windows developer who's been working on Microsoft Platforms since 1996. Windows Phone dev MVP 2013, Windows Development Platform MVP 2014. Currently working as Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Finland Developer Experience team.
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