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Building out Mobile Services support to Windows Phone 8

Editor’s Note: This post comes from Josh Twist, Senior Program Manager in the Windows Azure team. At the //build conference yesterday we proudly announced Mobile Services support for Windows…

Editor’s Note: This post comes from Josh Twist, Senior Program Manager in the Windows Azure team.

At the //build conference yesterday we proudly announced Mobile Services support for Windows Phone 8 which launched in San Francisco earlier this week. Windows Phone 8 joins Windows Store and iOS as the third supported platform and we have more in the pipeline, including Android. 

When we launched the Mobile Services project just over a year ago, we met with many developers building mobile apps. As we worked to understand their requirements, some core tenets of modern application building emerged:

  • Creating a seamless experience across devices, users, and social networks
  • Understanding the identity of users and developing truly engaging and personalized apps
  • Reaching out to users via push notifications, even when they’re not using your app to creating an even more engaging application experience

If you’d like to watch my sessions from //build, you can see me walkthrough lighting up a Windows Phone 8 app, and a Windows 8 app session coming soon, with the power of Windows Azure Mobile Services.

Connect your Windows Store and Windows Phone 8 app user experiences

Windows Phone 8 applications can be developed in C# and XAML meaning developers can share the knowledge and skills to rapidly build applications for both platforms.

Mobile Services contributes to this continuous experience across multiple platforms allowing you to access your authentication, structured data and server code in a single Mobile Service from all client platforms.

Power Personalization 

In our October update, we added support for multiple identity providers that made authenticating users to your Mobile Service via Microsoft Account, Facebook, Twitter, and Google possible in a single line of code.   

For example, in both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 logging in via Facebook is as simple as:

await mobileServiceClient.LoginAync(MobileServiceAuthenticationProvider.Facebook);

The entire process required to add authentication to your service with these providers is as easy as:

  1. Register your app with the selected provider
  2. Navigate to the IDENTITY tab in Mobile Services, copy over the Client ID and Client Secret you receive from the provider, and hit save.

3.   If you’re following the Quick Start guide in the portal, open the MainPage.xaml.cs file and modify the OnNavigatedTo method as shown below:

The mobile dev center has the full tutorial for user authentication with Windows Phone 8 and Windows Store apps. 

Push Notifications

Push notifications are hugely important in modern applications and the Mobile Services team knew this was something we wanted to make incredible easy for developers to do. Thanks to Mobile Services’ server script functionality, sending a live tile is a single line of code for both Windows Store and Windows Phone 8 apps.

For Windows Store apps, it is simply: 

For Windows Phone 8 apps, it is similarly: 

Another great thing about Windows Phone 8 is that they introduced a new opportunity for developers to reach their users with push notifications: the lock screen. The Windows Phone team provides detailed documentation for how to allow a user to set your app as their lock screen background image provider here. Now you can set and update the most recent status of a turn-based game or even a shared project/task list right to a user’s lock screen.

 And, of course, as Scott Guthrie showed in his blog post on the October update, the server scripting capability in Mobile Services allows you to integrate with other Windows Azure and third party services (like Twilio for SMS and SendGrid for email) to reach your users through multiple channels. 

Help us take your app from idea to execution – even faster!

All of these individual features in Mobile Services have been woven together to provide more than the sum of their parts, which means that with Mobile Services – you can go from your awesome idea to execution in a very short time. 

We’re looking forward to making Mobile Services even more powerful with every release and taking the burden of backend development off your shoulders.  And based on your feedback during our Channel9 show yesterday, we’ve set up a uservoice page where you can submit new feature requests and vote on how you think we should prioritize them. 

In the keynote, we demonstrated how easy it is to take an existing application and add the cloud services you need to make your application more engaging.

So, sign up for your free Windows Azure account and 10 free Mobile Services today at www.windowsazure.com/freetrial and see just how fast and easy it is to develop with Mobile Services. 

We created the To do sample application in just a few days and the Mobile Service backend for to do took us only a matter of hours to build and deploy from scratch.

The Johnson & Johnson Digital Health Scorecard application for Windows 8 uploads anonymous aggregate data via Mobile Services—and it took them only 40 minutes to build and deploy their backend.  How long will it take you?

As always, if you have questions, please ask them in our forum. If you have feedback (or just want to show off your app), send mail to the Windows Azure Mobile Services team at mobileservices@microsoft.com.  You can also find me on Twitter @joshtwist.