Microsoft is making available developer tools for the next generation of its Windows Phone platform, codenamed ‘Mango.’ Many of the features highlighted by the company in a press event this week have already been previewed, with Microsoft touting what it claims is “a smarter approach to apps.” According to the company, “Microsoft sees the promise of apps in how they can be integrated directly into the core experiences of the phone.” In addition to making it possible to get notifications and updates from apps from the Start Screen, the ‘Mango’ release will also surface apps as part of search results and within Windows Phone Hubs – “as a result, a useful app is more likely to be right there when needed.”
In a blog post, Matt Bencke, general manager of Windows Phone Developer and Marketplace Experiences at Microsoft, said the top features of the new platform include “background processing; additional sensors, direct camera access, compass and gyro; use of Silverlight and XNA together; Silverlight 4; IE9 web browser control [and] local SQL database for structure storage.”
Microsoft said it will announce when Mango apps will be accepted by its App Hub for certification “in the coming weeks”, although Mango is not being supported on customer devices until the third quarter of 2011. The company also announced that the number of markets where Windows Phone Marketplace is available will be expanded to 35 from 15, with new markets supported being Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Taiwan. App submissions are also supported in China, Israel and Luxembourg.
For countries not yet locally supported by Marketplace, Microsoft is continuing to expand its Global Publisher Program, announced early in March 2011. Currently, developers in 69 Middle East and African markets can submit apps via Yalla Apps; App Port supports 13 countries in East Asia; APPA Market is available in 19 central European countries; and Device7 and MTel are active in China.
Also announced this week was a web version of Windows Phone Marketplace, to enable customers to shop, share and buy apps and games from any PC, and then send them to handsets. “Several new features and capabilities” for the Marketplace were also promised, which will be detailed later.
According to the latest figures announced by Microsoft, there are currently more than 17,000 apps available for Windows Phone, with 42,000 registered developers.