Microsoft Extends Office 365 for iOS, Android Developers

Microsoft announced a bunch of new features for Office 365 developers, including new APIs and new and improved support for iOS and Android mobile development.

Microsoft logo

Microsoft has announced new capabilities for iOS and Android developers to build Office 365 apps for mobile devices.

At its TechEd Europe 2014 conference in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft announced that as part of its collaborative efforts to make the Office 365 APIs as seamless and easy as possible for mobile developers, Microsoft Open Technologies is launching an iOS SDK (software development kit) and releasing a new version of the Android SDK.

"These SDKs supplement the Visual Studio SDK that we have for developers," wrote the Office Dev team on the Microsoft Office Dev blog. "The iOS SDK supports Objective-C, with Swift support coming soon."

"We're not just opening up APIs, but providing tools in languages that developers want," Arpan Shah, senior director of Office 365 technical product management, told eWEEK. "Developers can use Objective-C or Swift, and can also use Java. We are trying to deliver the best tools for the mobile-first, cloud-first world."

In a post on the MS Open Tech blog, Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist Doug Mahugh said Android Studio developers should check out the MS Open Tech Tools plug-in for IntelliJ and Android Studio. "This plug-in gives Android developers simple access to Office 365 services via the Android SDK, as well as Azure Mobile Services and push notifications, all from within the familiar IntelliJ or Android Studio development environment. Our developers at MS Open Tech, in collaboration with the Office team, designed these mobile SDKs for native application development to enable seamless integration of Office 365 services and data with apps running on Android and iOS client platforms."

Mahugh said the SDKs are modular and contain five independent packages: Outlook services, file services, directory services, SharePoint lists and discovery services. "All of this functionality is provided by robust Office 365 REST APIs, which are exposed through the Android and iOS SDKs as well as other SDKs available for .NET and JavaScript/TypeScript developers," he said.

The Office 365 SDK for iOS is available from the OfficeDev repo on GitHub, or you can use the Cocoapods dependency manager to include it as a dependency in your XCode or JetBrains AppCode project, Mahugh said.

The Office 365 SDK for Android, meanwhile, "is a new production ready release that supersedes the preview version released in March of this year," he said. "You can get it from the GitHub repo, or using Gradle from Bintray's JCenter repo, the default central repo for Android Studio."

In addition, Microsoft announced the release of a set of new APIs for Office 365. Just a few weeks ago at the Gartner Symposium, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Office 365 the most strategic API for Microsoft, Shah said.

"Today, we're enhancing the opportunity for developers with Office 365, with new APIs for mail, files, calendar and contacts," the Office Dev blog said. "These new robust REST-based APIs empower all developers to leverage the more than 400 petabytes of data (as of March 2014) and popular services across Office 365 in any application. From a travel reservation app that connects to Office 365 calendars and contacts, to a sales automation app that fully integrates with Office 365 mail and files—the possibilities with Office 365 are endless."

Shah said one partner that is taking advantage of the new Office 365 APIs is IFTTT—a service that connects cloud services. "Using the new Office 365 APIs, IFTTT will provide the ability to connect over 130 different services with Office 365 mail, contacts, calendar and files," the Office Dev blog said. "The Office 365 channels in IFTTT will go live in the next few weeks and will be available for any Office 365 customer to use."

The new APIs for Office 365 are available here.

"Microsoft Office jumped on the API bandwagon, which is exactly the right way to mobile-enable integration with the Office apps," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "The first set of APIs is around email-related needs, but I expect this to move forward. I am seeing Microsoft move faster and align more rapidly than ever before with fast moving trends. This is good news for Microsoft developers and its ecosystem."