Announcing the Windows Azure Mobile Services October Update

Yesterday we made some big updates to Windows Azure Mobile Services!  The feature suite for Windows Store apps is growing and you can begin using Mobile Services to develop native iOS apps.

This October update includes:

  • Current iOS libraries added to the Mobile Services GitHub repo
  • Email services through partnership with SendGrid
  • SMS & voice services through partnership with Twilio
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Google user authentication
  • Access to Windows Azure Blob, Table, Queues, and ServiceBus from your Mobile Service
  • Deployment to the US-West data center

You can also check out Scott Guthrie’s blog post for more information regarding this update.

Update: iOS support still in development, but current libraries up on GitHub

The Mobile Services team is very proud to honor the wider Windows Azure commitment to open source development.  We previously announced that iOS development was in the works, and today we’re happy to share an update on our progress. The most current iOS are available on GitHub, you can now access the iOS Quick Start project in the Windows Azure portal, and find tutorials in the Mobile Services dev center.

The current libraries support structured storage, the full array of user authentication options (Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, Google), email send through SendGrid, SMS & voice through Twilio, and of course allow you to access Blobs, Tables, Queues, and ServiceBus.  A simple push notification service for iOS is not currently supported.  Look for subsequent preview releases to deliver a complete solution for iOS and to add support for Android and Windows Phone!

Mobile Services are still free for your first ten applications running on shared instances.  With the 90-day Windows Azure free trial, you also receive 1 GB SQL database and 165 MB daily egress (unlimited ingress).  Both iOS and Windows Store apps count towards your total of 10 free Mobile Services.

Power of email

The Windows Azure Mobile Services team is very excited to announce that we’re building on our partnership with SendGrid to deliver a turnkey email solution for your Mobile Services app. We’re teaming up to make it easier for you to include a welcome email upon successful authentication, an alert email when a table is changed, and pretty much anything else that will help you build a more complete and compelling app.

You can add email to your app in three simple steps.  

  1. First sign up here to activate a SendGrid account and receive 25,000 free emails per month through the introductory SendGrid + Windows Azure offer. 
  2. Once you receive approval from SendGrid, login to the Windows Azure portal and navigate to the DATA tab on your to-do-list getting started project.
  3. Click SCRIPT, then INSERT and replace pre-populated code with what is below:

That’s it.  Now every time one user updates the todo list, the other users will get an email letting them know what needs to get done.

Visit the Windows Azure Mobile Services dev center for the full tutorial.  Our friends at SendGrid have also put together a tutorial for sending a welcome email on successful authentication.  If you’re fired up about how you added email to your Mobile Services app, let us know!

You can review how to use SendGrid with all Windows Azure services here.

SMS & Voice

Today at TwilioCon, Scott Guthrie’s demo showed just how quickly you can add SMS capabilities to your app through Twilio and Windows Azure Mobile Services, and just how powerful that end product can be.

Incorporating voice and SMS to your app is just as quick and painless as email was above.  If you decide to send an SMS alert rather than an email every time an item is added to the todo list, you would still follow three easy steps:

  1. Activate a Twilio account. (When you’re ready to upgrade later, you can receive for 1000 free text messages or incoming voice minutes for using Twilio and Windows Azure together.)
  2. Head back to the Windows Azure portal and navigate to the DATA tab on your to-do-list getting started project.
  3. Click SCRIPT, then INSERT and replace the code you copied from above (or the pre-populated code if you’re starting fresh) with what is below:

If you want to show off how Twilio is making your Mobile Services app even better, tell us where to look!

You can review how to use Twilio with all Windows Azure servicesMicrosoft, Facebook, Twitter, or Google

Each of these tutorials will show you how to get a client ID and secret key, which you will then need to paste into the appropriate location on the identity tab.  Don’t forget to hit Save!

There are additional authentication tutorials available under the following ‘Getting Started’ walk-throughs:

Access Windows Azure Blog, Tables, and ServiceBus

This update includes the ability to work with other Windows Azure services from your Mobile Service server script.  Mobile Service server scripts run using Node.js so to access additional Azure services, you simply need to use the Windows Azure SDK for Node.js.  If you wanted to obtain a reference to a Windows Azure Table in a Mobile Services script, for instance, you would only need:

 The tutorials in the Windows Azure Node.js dev center will tell you everything you need to know about starting to work with Blob, Tables, Queues, and ServicesBus using the azure module.

Deploy to US-West

Until now, you’ve only been able to deploy Mobile Services to the US-East data center. Now you’ll also be able to deploy Mobile Services to the US-West data center. 

There are a couple things you need to know:

  • Manage cost and latency by deploying your Mobile Service and SQL database to the same data center. 

 If you are creating a new database, simply select the same data center in the drop down as you did for your Mobile Service.  If you are connecting an existing database to a Mobile Service and need to move to a new data center, instructions for how to do so can be found here and here.

  • You can deploy different Mobile Services to different data centers from the same subscription.
  • If you upgrade a Mobile Service in one data center to Reserved instances, you must also upgrade all other Mobile Services you have deployed to that data center to Reserved instances.  

For example, consider a scenario where you have four Mobile Services—A, B, C, and D—and the first two are deployed to the US-East data center but the second two are deployed to the US-West data center.  If you upgrade Mobile Service A to Reserved instances, Mobile Service B will automatically be upgraded to Reserved instances as well because both are in the US-East data center.  Mobile Services C and D will not automatically be upgraded since they are in a different data center. 

If you later choose to upgrade Mobile Services C and D to Reserved instances, those charges will appear separately on your monthly bill so that you can better monitor your usage. 

  • You still receive 10 free Mobile Services in total, not 10 per data center.  You can of course still deploy to US-East, if you prefer.

 What’s Next?

Later this month we will add support for the Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5 release.  In that update, we will enable new web and worker role images with Windows Server 2012 and .NET 4.5 as well as support .NET 4.5 with Web Sites. 

If you have questions, ask them in the forum. If you have feedback (or just want to show off your app), send it to the Windows Azure Mobile Services team at mobileservices@microsoft.com.