MIX brings great news for Windows Phone 7 developers

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention at all you will have noticed that the past couple of days Microsoft has been running its MIX conference over in the US. They have already gone over the future of IE in detail, and now it’s the turn of Windows Phone 7.

In terms of consumers, there’s a lot of things to look forward to in the next version of the mobile platform, codenamed “Mango” – for example, the arrival of Angry Birds (a very popular iOS and Android game) and the IE 9 engine appearing in the browser. However, there is also a lot for developers on the platform to look forward to.

First of all, Microsoft has been working hard on bringing more APIs to developers. Expect the ability to use Silverlight and XNA together (as opposed to separate app types, which they are at the moment), and resuming applications will become even faster as (pending capacity) the last few will be kept in memory for faster re-activation (so your apps won’t necessarily be “tombstoned”). On top of this, there is SQL database support coming with SQL CE becoming part of the platform. Camera and compass raw data is now available, as well as direct socket level access (which opens up all kinds of possibilities). One of the most interesting of all of these, however, is what’s called “background agents”. This is a system that is similar to what Android has in terms of running code in the background, and something that iOS (fatally, in my opinion) lacks. The idea behind them is that developers can define a segment of code that the OS can schedule to run periodically in a battery friendly manner – which gives the best of both worlds in terms of Android’s flexibility with background code, and iOS’ battery life preservation.

There are also some modifications to the tooling, with new orientation and geo-location spoofing tools improving testing facilities on the emulator, and new profiling tools to make apps even more efficient. The keynote will soon be up on the MIX site if you want to check it out for the demos and more information.

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