Xamarin Updates Cross-Platform Mobile App Dev Tools

Xamarin, the cross-platform mobile app development company that's now a Microsoft unit, updated the tooling in its standalone IDE and its Visual Studio counterpart, along with platform-specific SDKs.

Xamarin holds a unique niche in the cross-platform app development landscape, as it lets developers use Microsoft's C# programming language to build native apps for the Android, iOS, and Windows platforms. The company early this year was acquired by Microsoft, which in March open sourced Xamarin's runtime and bundled the technology with Visual Studio for free.

At the dotNetConf conference, the company yesterday announced a new stable release of the Xamarin Platform, with corresponding enhancements to the standalone Xamarin Studio, now at version 6.0, Xamarin for Visual Studio, now at version 4.1, the iOS and Android SDKs and more.

In a blog post yesterday, Xamarin co-founder and now Microsoft exec Miguel de Icaza described Xamarin Studio 6 as "Our biggest and best release of Xamarin Studio yet! With a type system that is now powered by Roslyn, Microsoft's open source .NET compiler platform, you will see a plethora of benefits including enhanced code completion, full C# 6.0 support and a new formatting engine."

Xamarin Studio 6.0
[Click on image for larger view.] Xamarin Studio 6.0 (source: Xamarin/Microsoft)

Along with that new Roslyn integration, Xamarin Studio 6.0 now includes several enhancements for the F# functional programming language, such new Xamarin.Forms F# templates, support for Portable Class Libraries and Shared Projects; support for F# 4 and more.

Also among the updates is a new dark theme for the studio, which was requested by users. The IDE also has more than 5,000 new icons, new dialogs for code hints, code completion popovers and editor schemes for a redesigned visual appearance.

The full list of new features in Xamarin Studio 6.0 can be seen in the release notes.

Also being updated was Xamarin for Visual Studio.

"For our Visual Studio developers, you are in for a treat with our 4.1 release that included tvOS support, improved iOS Assets Catalog editing, a brand-new SSL/TLS implementation build option, an enhanced Android XML editor and a lot more," de Icaza said.

Xamarin for Visual Studio 4.1
[Click on image for larger view.] Xamarin for Visual Studio 4.1 (source: Xamarin/Microsoft)

Included in that "lot more" are a new HttpClient stack selector and numerous bug fixes, which can be seen in the Xamarin for Visual Studio release notes.

De Icaza also announced iOS and Android SDK updates.

"Both Xamarin Studio and Xamarin for Visual Studio come packaged with the latest-and-greatest versions of Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android," he said. "This release has a lot of great new features for both operating systems. Xamarin.iOS 9.8 brings full support for tvOS, easy settings to specify your handler that HttpClient uses, size reduction, and support for generic NS* collections. Xamarin.Android 6.1 adds support for the new Java invocation architecture, native HttpClientHandler, improved debugging support, and enhancements for Mono.Data.Sqlite.dll for Android N."

Finally, de Icaza announced a new Mac OS X universal installer. "This will not only handle updating to the latest version of Xamarin, but also will setup the new and improved Android Emulators from Google, based on x86 HAXM, that are now 10 times faster than before!" he said.

Wrapping up his announcements of Xamarin Platform upgrades, de Icaza said, "This release is comprised of updates on iOS, Android, Visual Studio, and Xamarin Studio, as well as a new version of Mono on Mac OS X. To use this release to develop iOS applications in Visual Studio, you'll need to install it on both your Mac and Windows workstations. You can try it out by switching to the stable update channels in Visual Studio and Xamarin Studio. Or, simply use our installers to get all of the new builds on Mac and Windows."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.