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Q&A: Sam Basu on Using Xamarin, AI, Cloud Services and More for Mobile Apps

Expert advice on using the latest techniques with Xamarin for your mobile development.

Telerik Developer Advocate Sam Basu is an expert on usinng Xamarin to develop mobile apps, and now he's putting a new twist on things -- showing developers how to integrate artificial intelligence into the mix! Ahead of his talk on this topic at Visual Studio Live! Austin 2018 in late April, we got a chance to ask him about all of the above and more:

What advantage does understanding the Xamarin technology stack give developers?
There are various nuances to building Xamarin apps -- like Xamarin.iOS, Xamarin.Android or Xamarin.Forms and developers should know which approach works best for their app. One can also mix & match or use solutions that straddle the line between native vs abstracted UI, like Forms/Native Embedding.

What benefits Xamarin.Forms offer developers going forward?
Xamarin.Forms allows .NET developers to get around having to know native platform UI and maximize code sharing.

"Xamarin.Forms is also starting to support a lot more platforms -- like MacOS, smartwatches, Samsung Tizen, WPF & Web. It's a real good time to be a Xamarin developer and the story will keep getting better."

Sam Basu, Developer Advocate, Telerik

Xamarin.Forms is also starting to support a lot more platforms -- like MacOS, smartwatches, Samsung Tizen, WPF & Web. It's a real good time to be a Xamarin developer and the story will keep getting better.

What role does .NET Standard play for Xamarin developers?
.NET Standard is the clear way forward to code share between various .NET platforms. Xamarin developers can abstract their shared code as .NET Standard libraries and reap benefits by taking their code places.

What are the various ways to deploy Xamarin apps?
A: Xamarin mobile apps can be deployed to a variety of iOS/Android/UWP device simulators on Windows & Mac. Additionally deployments to real devices is getting easier across the table with Xamarin Live Player coming of age.

Must developers use Cloud Backend-as-a-Service?
You don't have to, but you really should. Cloud BaaS services offer a lot for mobile apps -- like social auth, push notifications, CDNs, scalabity and serverless architectures. It is hard for developers to do it all from scratch.

What can AI do for Xamarin apps?
Everybody is making mobile apps -- how can you make your apps stand out? Make them intelligent. AI can help provide customizable intelligence, recognize trends, conversational bots and create engaging UX. AI is everywhere and smarter apps will win the day.

How can developers get started with AI?
AI is vast and very mathematical at its core. But Xamarin developers can do a lot with AI just from the surface - thanks to cloud based intelligence and vast computational power. Azure Cognitive Services and VS Tools for AI make it a low barrier to entry.

How can Alexa integrate with Xamarin apps?
Voice assistants are everywhere and Alexa is getting smarter each day. Xamarin developers can provide continuity of UX across devices and even embed voice services within their apps - all powered by serverless cloud functions.

What are some handy utilities for Xamarin developers that you recommend?
Everyone has the basic tools for Xamarin development .. but are you accounting for the edge cases? Little tools can really augment everyday development tasks - think network sniffers, mirroring utilities, UI previewers and code improvement tools. It's all there, just waiting to be added to your developer arsenal.

You also talk about DevOps and mobile apps: Why do mobile apps need DevOps?
Mobile apps have unique lifecycle needs - like builds, CI/CD pipes, private deployments, device testing, crash reporting and analytics. Thankfully, there are unified services that do it all for Xamarin apps -- VS App Center is here to help.

Want more check out Sam's sessions at Visual Studio Live! Austin as well as all the rest of the great content at the show!

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Enterprise Computing and Education Groups, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy for the groups. She also serves as executive editor the ECG Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the ECG group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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