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Xamarin 2.0 Extends Visual Studio Support for Mobile Platforms

A new IDE, Xamarin Studio, is also part of the release.

For the first time, Visual Studio developers can create iOS and Android apps within their chosen integrated development environment (IDE).

Xamarin Inc. today announced the availability of Xamarin 2.0, a new release of the company's flagship multi-platform mobile development product. Xamarin 2.0 adds several new features to the product, many of which allow simplified, multi-platform development using Microsoft Visual Studio and C#. One of the company's goals is to make C# the universal language for mobile development, according to Nat Friedman, CEO and cofounder of Xamarin.

The Xamarin 2.0 release introduces Xamarin.iOS for Visual Studio, which allows developers to build iOS, Android and Windows apps in Visual Studio using C# and the Microsoft .NET Framework. LINQ, lambdas and XML are all supported in Xamarin.iOS. In a briefing, Friedman noted that Xamarin.iOS is "a single solution to target all three platforms using Visual Studio," and was the most-requested feature in the Xamarin 2.0 release.

Also new in Xamarin 2.0 is Xamarin Studio, an IDE built by Xamarin to allow "multi-platform, native mobile design, development, debugging and deployment," according to a press release. The IDE, which is available for both OS X and Windows, allows developers to use C# to build apps for iOS and Android devices. C# code completion helps developers explore and target the supported platforms' native APIs. Xamarin Studio includes a debugger and support for packaging and deploying apps.

The Xamarin Component Store is another new feature in Xamarin 2.0. The company calls it "an app store for code": it makes available to developers third-party libraries, native UI controls and platform-specific design themes. Friedman likened the Component Store to NuGet, noting that there were about 20 components available at launch, with plans to add several hundred more this year. The components can be free or paid, and are intended to make development (and design) more streamlined and simplified.

Also available in Xamarin 2.0 are selected pre-built apps to speed up enterprise mobility projects. In addition, the new release features a free Starter Edition, so developers can build small apps and explore the product. Product pricing is per developer, per platform, per year, and has four tiers: the free Starter Edition; an Indie Edition, aimed at individual developers, priced at $299; a Business Edition, priced at $999; and an Enterprise Edition, featuring premium components and priced at $1,899.

The percentage of iOS and Android developers who use Xamarin is close to 50/50. The company reports compliance with all Apple Inc. and Google Inc. platform requirements, and also took part in an Apple beta program. Xamarin's leadership has perhaps worked most closely with Microsoft.

Mitra Azizirad, general manager of Developer Tools Marketing and Sales at Microsoft, stated in a press release that "Xamarin enables our entire developer ecosystem to extend their skills and build apps for all modern device platforms." Xamarin also announced that Microsoft will be a lead sponsor for the inaugural Xamarin Evolve 2013 worldwide developer conference, which will take place April 14-17 in Austin, Texas.

About the Author

Katrina Carrasco is the associate group managing editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group. She can be reached at kcarrasco@1105media.com.

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