Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview: Application platform overview and Windows 8 APIs

The Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview has been leaked on the Internet today before being released in the coming weeks. What's included in the upcoming version? 

App Development

Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview supports native C++ development and is able to support a significant subset of the Windows 8 SDK, allowing developers to share a significant amount of code between apps on Windows Phone and Window 8. The lack of native development support in Windows Phone 7.x has proven to be an issue with developers in the past, which has now been recognised by Microsoft.

The SDK Preview reduces the need to port and maintain components such as compute engines, graphic libraries, and API sets. Direct3D is also making its way to Windows Phone, which will enable developers to create and release games built using DirectX and share code base between PC titles (D2D, DWrite and WIC aren't supported). The supported vertex shader model version is 2.0, as is the pixel shader.

Should you be a HTML developer, you'll be disappointed to know that apps built using the language are not a supported model in Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview. Wordarounds are available however, and Internet Explorer 10 will bring new features and extended functionality for web content.

"A developer could create a managed app with a XAML front end that uses an embedded browser control to display local HTML content, and it’s possible, if cumbersome, to access phone APIs by using the InvokeScript method and ScriptNotify events. It’s also possible to use 3rd party tools such as PhoneGap, which fully supports HTML-based Windows Phone development. Also, in Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview, the phone’s browser has been upgraded to Internet Explorer® Mobile 10, with a host of new features such as a robust HTML5/CSS3 implementation, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), ES5, IndexedDB, mouse and gesture events, and the addition of the high-performance Chakra scripting engine."

Native API Additions

As well as new development opportunities, Windows Phone developers will also have additional Windows 8 Native APIs to play with. We've covered a few of these previously, but to recap, here's a list from the leaked SDK:

  • Keyboard / TextComposition - Developers of Direct3D games will be able to create their own text boxes that behave just like the ones provided by HTML and XAML, using APIs that represent text as it's being composed, and show / hide the on-screen keyboard when a custom text box has focus.
  • Speech - New APIs enable speech recognition, synthesis, and shell interaction so apps can be launched using speech commands. 
  • Camera - Developers can make use of additional APIs for deeper camera configuration, access to live previews, and multiframe capture scenarios.
  • Launchers - Data will be able to be returned to a Windows Phone app that has been tombstoned, but the FileOpenPicker does not support generic file picking from system folders, and will only bring up the Photo Chooser in the Preview.
  • Bluetooth - New APIs enable a native Bluetooth stack. The Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview version of the API adds the ability for two phones to communicate running the same app, and an app installed on a Windows Phone can communicate directly with a paired device.
  • In-App Purchasing - As we've covered before, in-app purchasing is to be supported for consumers to be able to download content from within an app, which is already present in a few Xbox LIVE games available for Windows Phone. 

Related stories from today  for the leaked WIndows Phone 8 SDK:

We'll have more information on the front page as we come across it.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.