Xamarin hopes to attract more developers with expanded iOS support
The latest version of Xamarin’s namesake development platform has additional support for iOS and more features for sharing code across the Apple OS, Android and Windows.
Xamarin’s platform lets developers use C# to create native apps for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows. The most important addition in version 3 of Xamarin is Designer for iOS, which Xamarin hopes developers will embrace as an alternative to Apple’s Xcode Interface Builder. The advantage is that users can stay in a single environment for the entire development process.
Using Designer for iOS, developers can build and modify iOS 6 and 7 so-called storyboard files, which are used to assemble the different screens that make up an iOS application as well as the navigation path through them.
The upgrade isn’t just about iOS. The ability to share code across multiple operating systems has been improved in version 3, thanks to several new features.
Shared Projects lets developers share code across iOS, Android, and Windows in either Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio, while Portable Class Libraries offer a new mechanism for building libraries. Once created, they can be used across Xamarin.iOS, Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.Mac runtimes, for example.
To help speed up the development of user interfaces, developers can use Xamarin.Forms. It’s an API that lets developers write user interfaces for iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps. Developers can mix and match Forms-based code with platform-specific bits for complete control on each platform, according to Xamarin.
The design of Xamarin’s IDE Studio has also been updated. It now includes a new welcome screen, icons and improved support for Retina displays.
In addition to supporting C#, version 3 lets developers build iOS and Android apps using the F# functional programming language, which is becoming increasingly popular, according to Xamarin. On a site hosted by Microsoft Research, prospective developers can use their browser to try F#, which runs on Linux, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Windows as well as HTML5 and GPUs.
Xamarin ships on Friday and pricing will stay the same. The most popular edition of Xamarin’s platform is the Professional version which costs US$999 per year, platform and developer.
On Wednesday, Xamarin also announced it had acquired Visual Studio Division of Clarius Consulting. The goal is to improve the integration with Visual Studio, according to Xamarin CEO and co-founder Nat Friedman. Supporting Visual Studio users is one of Xamarin’s highest priorities, and the acquisition will allow the company to deliver an even an improved mobile development experience for them, he said in a blog post.