Windows Phone Preview for Developers Released
It's the first opportunity for developers to integrate their apps with the Cortana digital assistant.
The wait is over for Windows Phone developers anxious to get their hands on a copy of Windows Phone 8.1 so they can start updating their apps. The Windows Phone Preview for Developers was released by Microsoft this morning.
A blog entry by Microsoft's Cliff Simpkins announced the release. He added that the Windows Phone Store is starting to take app submissions and enable app linking, all of which allows the building of universal Windows apps. They allow an app to work across Windows 8 devices whether they're on a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone (and, eventually, Xbox). Universal Windows apps were first announced and previewed at last week's Build developer conference.
The preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 is important for developers since some aspects of apps need to be tested on a real device, rather than just an emulator. Simpkins, for example, wrote that he uses an emulator for testing whether the code works properly, while using the app on a working Windows Phone provides valuable information about an "app's real-world usability (e.g., touch target sizing, load times)."
As a supplement to the Windows Phone Preview for Developers, MSDN published a reference app to help developers learn how to integrate their apps with Cortana, the new voice assistant that's also part of Windows Phone 8.1. The app, called MSDN Voice Search, provides voice-enabled search capabilities to documentation and source code for building Cortana functionality into new or existing apps.
There are a few requirements to get the Windows Phone Preview for Developers. A developer either needs to register as a Windows Phone developer, which is $19 annually, or register as a developer with App Studio, which is free. The other option is to download the developer tools to register and "developer unlock" a Windows Phone (Microsoft provides instructions on how to do this).
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.