What’s newly added features in Xamarin

Xamarin

Xamarin, the company with more than 750,000 mobile developers delivering mission-critical enterprise and consumer apps, today announced major expansions to their product lineup that radically improve how developers build, test and manage apps.

At the company’s global developer conference, Xamarin Evolve 2014, the largest cross-platform mobile development event in the world, the company introduced Xamarin Insights and the Xamarin Android Player, along with new features for the recently launched testing service, Xamarin Test Cloud, and new features for the Xamarin mobile development platform. These announcements are the realization of the company’s mission to make it fast, easy and fun to build great mobile apps.

Effectively delivering quality apps is no easy feat in today’s highly complex mobile development landscape, with multiple versions of various operating systems, an incredibly divergent variety of hardware sizes and capabilities, and users with extremely high expectations who will quickly abandon slow apps with poor user experiences.

With today’s announcements, Xamarin provides developers a mobile-first, fully integrated and seamless experience which simplifies and accelerates every stage of the application development lifecycle.

“Our enterprise customers look to Avanade to help them envision what is possible for their current and future mobile needs,” said Dan O’Hara, Avanade vice president of mobility. “Xamarin delivers unmatched technology that allows Avanade to transform these mobile strategies into successful reality for our customers.”

New Xamarin Platform Capabilities for Building Mobile Apps

  • Xamarin Android Player – Android developers waste countless hours fighting slow emulator performance and long startup times when deploying and testing apps. Xamarin Android Player provides developers dramatically shorter start up times and the best possible emulator performance through hardware-virtualization and hardware accelerated graphics. The Player makes it easy to test and demo hardware features such as the ability to simulate low battery conditions and set GPS coordinates, and Xamarin will soon release the ability to simulate the back and front-facing camera.The Xamarin Android Player is available as a preview release.
  • Sketches – The Xamarin Platform now includes an easy, lightweight way for developers to explore iOS and Android APIs in C# and F#. From inside the IDE, developers can create Sketches that show their code executing in real-time. New mobile developers using C# gain a powerful, yet simple, way to explore iOS and Android, while experienced Xamarin developers now have a fast way to iterate on features and explore new APIs without the overhead of building and running a project.Sketches are available today for iOS, Android, and Mac as a preview in the Xamarin Studio Beta Channel, and are coming soon to Visual Studio for Android, iOS and Windows.

New Mobile App Testing and Monitoring Capabilities

  • Xamarin Insights – Xamarin Insights is a new app monitoring service that tracks app crashes and exceptions, and helps developers know real-time what is happening with app users. Developers need to respond to users’ issues quickly, but with limited time and a lot of data to interpret, it is difficult to know which crash issues to tackle first. Xamarin Insights uses a unique algorithm to rank issues according to user impact and reach, so developers know which issues to prioritize. They can see exactly which users each crash is impacting, and what sequence of actions preceded the crash.Integrating event information with user data makes it easier to solve problems and communicate proactively with affected users. Xamarin Insights integrates with Jira, HipChat, GitHub, Campfire, Pivotal Tracker and TFS Online so that developers are instantly notified, and issues are tracked.Xamarin Insights is available as a public beta.
  • Xamarin Test Cloud Hyper-Parallel Feature – Xamarin Test Cloud enables mobile teams to quickly test apps written in any language on over 1,000 mobile devices. A single test run may take a few hours to run on device, but with parallelization Xamarin Test Cloud is able to break that run up and execute a single test suite across multiple duplicate devices simultaneously, significantly increasing test results velocity. These new features are immediately available to Xamarin Test Cloud customers. Xamarin’s internal benchmarking test suite takes 2.5 hours to run serially. The new hyper-parallelization feature cuts that down to 12 minutes. This kind of optimization greatly reduces time spent waiting for feedback, which is key in achieving a rapid development process.

“As mobility continues to pervade our work and personal lives, developers are under more pressure than ever to build high quality apps quickly,” said Nat Friedman, CEO and cofounder, Xamarin. “Because mobile is so strategic to business growth and competitive advantage, developers are holding their company’s future in their code. Xamarin will be with them at every step of the mobile app lifecycle, making things faster and easier so that they can focus on delivering great apps.”

Using the NEW NuGet Package Explorer to Create, Explore and Publish Packages!

nuget

In the past few years, NuGet has become one of the easily and most commonly used tools within a .NET Developers bag of tricks and rightfully so. Long gone are the days of searching for a DLL file in some shady site and hoping that it doesn’t brick your application. Now you can find just about every possible reference you would want to include within your application in just a few clicks (and letting it sort out all of the dependencies).

Most developers have likely interacted through NuGet within Visual Studio, however this post is going to introduce another way to interact, explore and even publish your own NuGet packages called the NuGet Package Explorer.

What is the NuGet Package Explorer?

The NuGet Package Explorer is a open-source product of NuGet developer Luan Nguyen and was developed as an extremely user-friendly GUI application for easily creating and exploring NuGet packages. After installing the ClickOnce application, you can simply double-click on a NuGet Package file (.nupkg) to access all of its content or you can load packages directly from the official NuGet feed.

“This is a side project of mine and it is NOT an official product from Microsoft.” –  NuGet developer Luan Nguyen

How to use it?

First, you’ll need to visit the NuGet Package Explorer page on CodePlex, where the tool is currently available and download it. After a short download, you can launch the ClickOnce application and be presented with the following screen :

JustLaunched

These are your primary options when it comes to creating or exploring the contents of any available NuGet packages (in addition to simply clicking on any NuGet Package files as mentioned earlier). The easiest approach to get started would probably be to open up a package from the feed, which will present you with a searchable dialog with all of the most popular NuGet packages :

PopularPackages

After clicking on a package, you can choose the particular version you wanted to explore :

allversions

You also have the option of manually opening up any packages that you might have locally installed, but simply grabbing them from the feed is usually going to be the way to go.

Exploring a Package

Once you select a package that you want to explore a bit more, you can just double-click on it to present the details about that package :

An example of exploring the EntityFramework NuGet Package.

While exploring a package, you’ll see many of the summaries, details and descriptions that you might be accustomed to seeing when managing your NuGet packages through Visual Studio along with a bit more.

You’ll see an area called Package Contents, which display all of the files that are contained within the package and it can help give you an idea of the different versions of the framework that it targets, any transformations that will be applied to configuration files and any additional utilities or executables that might be run when the package is installed :

PackageContents

This is where you can really actually explore the packages by digging into the contents a bit more. By simply double-clicking on a file within the contents, you will be shown a preview (if available) of the contents :

ContentsDetails

This can be done for just about any kind of file that would normally support previews and it can be extremely useful if you wanted to see exactly what is going down inside some of these packages.

Creating a NuGet Package

The Package Explorer isn’t limited to just exploring existing packages. It provides a very easy-to-use interface to allow you to create your own packages and upload them to NuGet to share with others.

With a simple click of the File > New option menu or by using the CTRL+N shortcut :

started

You’ll be transported to a new package screen to begin building your own NuGet Package. You can click the Edit Metadata icon ( EditMetadata) to began actually editing information about your package :

MetaData

You can find a complete reference of all of the available fields listed above and exactly what they are used for by visiting the Nuspec Reference page here.

After defining all of your metadata, supported assemblies and dependencies, you will then be ready to add your files and content to your packages. You can do this by just clicking a file within the File Explorer and dragging it into the Package Contents area on the left :

SampleFile

All of the DLL files that are entered will be placed into the lib directory and all other basic content will be placed into an aptly named content directory as seen below :

PackageContent

Additionally, if you need to add other folders (or any other “special” types of folders), you can do so by using the Content menu :

OtherContent

You can continue to add all of the additional files and folders for your package in this same manner until your package is complete.

Publishing to NuGet

Publishing to NuGet is fairly simple after you have build your package.

The first thing that you’ll need to do is Register and Sign In to the NuGet Gallery, which takes a matter of seconds. This will provide you with an API key that you will need to use in order to publish packages to NuGet :

Api

After you have your API Key, you’ll just need to use the Publish option (File > Publish) within the NuGet Package Explorer :

Publish

Just enter in your API Key in the Publish dialog and hit Publish and you are done!

Have a Nexus 5 or new Nexus 7? You can get Android L now

Unlike in the past when Google used to release the finished versions of Android, now Google is releasing beta versions called developer previews. The company announced Android L – for now it is called L but in a few months the name could change to something sweeter like Lemon Cake or Lollipop or Ladoo – at Google I/O two days ago. The developer preview of Android L is now available for download for Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

This means if you have a Nexus 5 phone or Nexus 7 (2013) Wi-Fi tablet, you can download the relevant OS file from Google servers and install them on your device. Sounds simple enough? Well yes. But still the whole process is not all that simple for average consumers. The complexity, we suspect, is by design. Google doesn’t want less tech-savvy users to use preview versions of Android. These versions are meant for developers.

But if you are curious about Android L and wants to try it out, follow the steps here to get this version of Android that most of the consumers will only get by the end of this year.

How to install Android L: The method tested using Nexus 5 and Windows 7 PC

Step 1: Download the relevant Android L OS file from Google site (http://developer.android.com/preview/setup-sdk.html)

Step 2: Open developer options on your Nexus 5 phone. These options are hidden. So go to Settings > About Phone and then tap on the build number 7 times. Once you have done that, you will find developer options in your Settings menu.

Step 3: Open developer options and make sure USB Debugging is ticked.

Step 4: Check if your computer has the relevant drivers required for Nexus 5. If not, download the drivers from here and install (http://developer.android.com/sdk/win-usb.html)

Step 5: Make sure you have ADB and Fastboot Installed. For this, follow the steps from here (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2317790)
Step 6: Connect your phone to computer and open ADB (it will open in a command window). Type adb reboot bootloader. Your phone will go into recovery mode. Check the screen and see that for Bootloader status it shows unlocked.

Step 7: Most likely your phone will have the locked bootloader. To unlock it, type fastboot oem unlock. Then follow instructions on your phone screen. This will unlock bootloader as well as do a factory reset of the phone.

Step 8: Disconnect and reconnect your phone to PC. You may have to go into settings again, reveal developer options and select USB debugging.

Step 9: Unzip the Android L file you had downloaded. Create a new folder with an easy to type name like Android and put all the files in it. Then put this folder into Minimal ADB and Fastboot Folder which is in your computer’s program folder.

Step 10: Hold SHIFT key and right click on the Minimal ADB and Fastboot folder. From the menu, select “Open Command Window here”.

Step 11: With your phone connected, type adb reboot bootloader.

Step 12: Navigate (use CD to change directories) to the folder where Android L files are stored.
Step 13: Type flash-all in the command window.

Step 14: Sir back and relax. If you have done everything right, Android L will be installed on your phone. It will take up to 10-15 minutes though. The boot part especially takes a lot of time.

Additional notes: The preview versions are likely to have bugs so once you install the Android L you may find a few things not working in your phone. Installing Android L will delete all your data on the phone, so back up or save photos, music, files or any other data before installing the OS.

Source: 🙂

The Technology Behind the World Cup’s Advanced Analytics

SportsTech1

During Sunday’s 2-2 World Cup draw, the American forward Clint Dempsey, who scored one of two goals against Portugal, ran a total of 9,545 meters, with a top speed of 28.33 km/h over the course of 26 sprints. That wasn’t the top speed of the match, however, a title held by US defender Fabian Johnson, who reached an impressive 32.98 km/h.

Over the course of the match, detailed statistics, including dozens of other data points—the Americans ran a total of 110,299 meters, compared to the Portuguese side’s 106,520 meters, for example—are collected for every player on both teams, and displayed for television audiences worldwide, as well as posted to the FIFA website.

The system FIFA employs to grab the data, called Matrics, was built and deployed by an Italian firm called Deltatre at each stadium in the World Cup, and involves the use of several technologies and manual inputs from a large crew to deliver the real-time stats.

“The real value is that it’s live,” Tomas Robertsson, Deltatre’s North American commercial director, told me over the phone. “The extensive data set in real time provides on site heat maps and attacking zones, as well as distance run, passes completed, and many other statistics.”

Stats from Sunday’s US-Portugal match.fifaStats

The 2014 introduction of goal-line technology was a great leap forward for the international tournament; a technology that’s supposed to mitigate damn clear injustices such as Frank Lampard’s goal that the refs didn’t see. But it’s just one piece of high-tech gear that’s deployed at every area in the World Cup.​

Robertsson explained that the system works like this: Three HD cameras in various locations at each arena use image recognition to recognize the 22 players, three referees, and the soccer ball. The system tracks the XYZ coordinates of each of the objects, and then relays the information to a multi-screen, digital workstation where 74 people pour over the data on-site, aided by another 20 back in Italy.

The reason Deltatre uses cameras to optically track everything is that soccer players have resisted adding tracking technology into their equipment—such as their shoes—despite it being possible for some time.

A Deltatre Matrics operations center
A DELTATRE MATRICS OPERATIONS CENTER

On top of the cameras, the company has written algorithms that calculate passing stats, ball possession, and other statistics, totaling 350 in all. When the tracking information is relayed to a terminal, a human operator watching a slightly delayed version of the match validates each action before its sent live to the web or TV.

The image recognition technology isn’t entirely automatic. At the beginning of each match operators have to tell the machine which team is which color—and the color of the refs’ shirts—as well as manually input each player on the pitch. While the match is getting played out, the tracking system knows which team has touched the ball because a person with a video game controller hits a button for the corresponding team.

Unlike many other sports, Robertsson said that soccer isn’t a stats heavy game, but the information gleaned from the system can still be pretty useful in determining player performance. For example, it’s much easier to determine player fatigue simply by looking at the numbers.

Off the field, most of the teams at the World Cup use some kind of system to analyze each match to a similar level of detail, but after the fact. The collected data is analyzed by coaches and trainers to help ensure that teams are working at their peak potential.

Who’s using all our bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the total amount of information that can flow through the various rivers, streams and other tributaries of the Internet; it’s not a measure of speed, but of capacity. In the early days of the Internet, this bandwidth was dedicated primarily to education and research, but with the birth of a truly commercial Internet in 1995, bandwidth limitations became a much more serious issue as the public began to explore the Information Superhighway.

Today, entertainment and social media account for the lion’s share of bandwidth consumption. Streaming video giant Netflix accounts for more than a third of total bandwidth usage in North America during peak hours, and the combined tweets, Facebook posts and other social media output of active users make up almost 30% of all social media bandwidth use. And with peak usage outgrowing normal Internet usage by nearly ten percent, Internet traffic is likely to breach the “zettabyte threshold” sometime in 2015 (a zettabyte is equivalent to 1,000 exabytes, or one million one-terabyte hard drives).

The increasing importance of mobile computing has also altered our demand for bandwidth. As of 2013, nearly one in three website visits were made from mobile devices.

With a world of zettabytes and always-on mobile devices just around the corner, one thing’s for sure: as more and more entertainment, business and educational content moves from the physical realm to the Internet, the demand for bandwidth—and devices ready to use it—will only increase.

Bandwidth

Everything You Need To Know About IOS 8

It’s official, we are getting a new iOS, and you are going to love the smarter, faster, family-centric and health-focused iOS 8. This version comes with great sharing options: Family Sharing which lets you share purchases made by family members, iCloud Drive, fo easier file syncing between mobile and desktop devices and Handoff… just scroll all the way to the end to find out what it is all about.

iOS 8

Also available in this latest mobile OS version from Apple is Quicktype, a smarter predictive text engine, gestures for navigating through Mail, a more interactive Notification Center and awesome photo-editing features for photography lovers.

While we wait until iOS 8 becomes available this fall, here’s a sneak peek into everything you need to know about iOS 8.

With the new iOS 8, the notification center is now more dynamic. You can do more straight from the notification center without opening apps such as replying SMSes, liking a photo you are tagged in on Facebook, accepting or declining calendar invitations and more.

Mail

In Mail, you can now use swipes to mark an email as read, flag it, or delete the email. Drafts can now be swiped down and “stored” temporarily while you work on something. Just retrieve the draft when you want to continue working on it. Mail is also now more intuitive: it recognizes important data such as a phone number, flight confirmation or reservation and prompts you to add the data to a calendar event or your Contacts.

Spotlight

Spotlight on OS X Yosemite has gotten plenty powerful and apparently the iOS 8 version is getting some of the same features. Spotlight searches now pull up suggestions from Wikipedia, news sites, nearby places, movie showtimes and suggested websites. It also works on Safari, iTunes, iBooks and the App Store.

Contacts

Double tapping the Home button will give you access to your favorite and recent contacts fast. You can then just call, text or FaceTime your contacts straight from the menu, or you can contact them via the new features found on Messages.

2. Messages Gets Pumped Up

Messages on iOS 8 is looking a lot like Whatsapp on steroids. For starters you are getting group messaging functionality so you can add or remove people from conversation threads, and even name these threads for better organization.

Hate typing? Just tap-to-talk or send an video or audio message on Messages. You can receive and send audio messages just by holding up your iPhone to your ear.

You can also share your location for a selected period or indefinitely with your buddies in group chat like Nearby Friends on Facebook, and make some messages self-destruct like on Snapchat. Want to be left alone for a presentation or a meeting? Put the thread on a Do Not Disturb mode for some peace and quiet.

3. Quicktype – A Smarter Way To Text

iOS 8 is getting a new keyboard, equipped with a predictive technology called Quicktype. It doesn’t just predict spellings, it predicts answers in a way that “communicates” your communication style. Basically, it learns how you type to a person (your mom or your colleague) or on an app (on email or on Facbeook) and suggests words based on how you interact with or on those entities (informal or black-tie formal).

For those concerned with privacy, Quicktype will learn all of this solely on the device, meaning that it doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet to do so. What you type on your device stays on your device.

This predictive text engine is available in 14 countries, falling back on common phrases and words used in that particular region.

4. Take Control Of Your Health

It is the age of wearable tech and fitness apps and with HealthKit on iOS 8, Apple is taking it a step further and ensuring that your health is completely in your hands. With the new Health app for users and the HealthKit for developers, you can now choose to store your blood group or allergies right on your lock screen, or share or transmit vital information about your health to your family doctor or fitness trainer in real-time.

And with the HealthKit, developers can just integrate their hardware with the Health app rather than new hardware from scratch. Imagine having a your medical health report with you at all times – well now, it is happening.

5. Edit, Sync And Share Photos

Photos will now be integrated with iCloud in its very own iCloud Photo Library. Every photo you take with an iOS device will be available on all other connected devices, edits included. The photos can be accessed and downloaded from any device in full resolution.

Photos also now has smart editing tools – it auto-straightens, gives you ideal crop sizes, and automatically adjusts lighting and color levels with easy controls. Not to worry if you are really into perfecting your photos, there is still the option to manually fine-tune these pre-selected adjustments.

All changes will be synced, and made available for easy search according to location, time period and name.

6. Keep It Within The Family

Now this is a long time coming. You can now use family sharing to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks and the App store that your family members have made with the same credit card.Sharing is allowed to up to 6 family members and best of all any purchase made on any of the connected devices will automatically prompt the credit card owner for permission.

If you are not keen on purchasing and sharing apps, Family Sharing also lets you share family photos, calendars, events, reminders, family friends and even each other’s location infoacross all connected devices.

7. Continuity, Hands-Off

On top of Photos and Family Sharing, iOS 8 comes with a new iCloud Drive feature which allows us to share pretty much anything (presentations, PDFs, documents, files) between iOS and Mac OS X through cloud technology. Edits are synced and you no longer have to import, copy or transfer files from one device to another.

Better yet, iOS 8 comes with Handoff, a new feature that lets you pick up and continue working on a file as and when you switch devices. This works with Mail, Safari, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts.

With this you can start writing an email on your iPhone and finish off on your Mac, or reply SMS or take calls you receive on your iPhone, while on your Mac.

Shout “OK Google” at your PC to search the web with your voice

Google has recently opened the gates to their voice searching feature with its latest Chrome update. The service is available to all who use the browser and have the language set to US English, and is activated by calling out “OK Google” to their computer to initiate a search. The subtle addition should enable for a quick and efficient search, and we suspect that the more vocal users, who don’t mind shouting commands at their computer, will enjoy this nifty feature especially.pane2_story

With the imminent release of Microsoft’s AI Cortana, as well as the hugely successful Siri from Apple, it’s no wonder Google is keen to expand its offering further.