Xamarin, a provider of enterprise mobility tools for cross-platform mobile app developers, has announced the availability of Xamarin 4, an update of its integrated end-to-end solution to build, test and monitor mobile apps at scale through the Xamarin Platform, Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights.
Nat Friedman, CEO and cofounder of Xamarin, said that as mobile becomes the primary interface for consumers and employees, businesses are rapidly mobilizing every business function.
According to 451 Research, 47 percent of large U.S. enterprises have deployed 20 or more mobile apps in the last year, and 35 percent have deployed more than 50 apps. And IDC predicts that the number of enterprise applications optimized for mobility will quadruple by 2016, and mobility will account for 40 percent of enterprise IT budgets in 2018. Forrester notes that this is igniting a massive technology-spending arms race, with mobile investments expected to reach $189 billion by 2017.
“Businesses are rapidly ‘appifying’ and transforming their business operations and customer interactions,” Friedman said in an interview. “Xamarin 4 provides a solution for every step of the mobile journey, and along with our expert training and best practices, we now offer a strategic partnership for enterprises serious about winning with mobile.”
Indeed, successfully delivering and maintaining hundreds of high-quality, high-performance mobile apps is a challenge for enterprises, especially given the fragmented, rapidly changing mobile device landscape. Xamarin 4, however, cuts through this complexity and makes it possible to design, build, test, monitor and maintain successful apps at scale, using shared code, a reusable architecture and repeatable processes for every stage of the app life cycle, Friedman said. With less code to maintain and automated ways to ensure app quality, businesses are able to deliver greater mobile business value faster.
“The big story is the complete mobile life cycle, and we’re enabling that with Xamarin 4,” Friedman said.
“Strong ratings and customer loyalty have helped us drive millions of downloads, so quality is at the heart of our mobile strategy,” said Steve Robbins, CTO at MixRadio, a global radio streaming service with millions of downloads. “Using Xamarin gives us a fully native, high-performance app that works on all device types and has saved us thousands of hours of mobile testing time.”
Xamarin 4 features the Xamarin Platform, which delivers fully native iOS and Android apps from shared code—up to 95 percent across device platforms. Anything developers can do in Objective-C, Swift or Java can be done in C# with Xamarin. Meanwhile, Xamarin.Forms is a simple API that enables developers to quickly and easily build shared user interface code for iOS, Android and Windows that is completely native. The 2.0 API now includes more than 40 controls, layouts and other essential classes, making it possible to share 95 percent or more of code across device platforms without sacrificing true native performance or experience. Xamarin.Forms 2.0 performs twice as fast, has added enhancements for the latest iOS 9 and Android Marshmallow features, and now supports common gestures such as pinch and pull-to-refresh, Friedman said.
Another new element of the platform, the Xamarin Mac Agent (XMA), streamlines the path for developers to develop, debug and build iOS apps from the comfort of Microsoft’s Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) on Windows. Setup is as easy as turning on remote log-in for the Mac, Friedman said.
In addition, Xamarin Studio now has Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights directly integrated in project templates, with the ability to run automated tests and instrument apps for monitoring directly from within the IDE. This provides immediate visibility into the quality and health of apps during the development process, allowing developers to uncover issues before apps ship, and to quickly respond to issues with live users. The Xamarin Test Cloud provides automated mobile app testing, which ensures that apps look, perform and behave well on thousands of devices and ensures fast release cycles for mobile teams.
Xamarin 4 Launches, Covers the Mobile Development Life Cycle
Moreover, in addition to all the new and updated features in Xamarin 4, the company has made a preview version of its Test Recorder available for the Mac. Test Recorder uses a simulator or USB-connected iOS or Android device to record interactions—text input, swipes, taps and page navigation—and automatically creates test scripts that can be run on more than 2,000 devices in Xamarin Test Cloud, or imported into mobile test projects in Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio.
The updated Xamarin.UITest 1.0 is a C# test automation framework that supports advanced testing scenarios such as testing locally and video capture of tests executing. Previously restricted to only Xamarin Test Cloud customers, the company has now made Xamarin.UITest free for everyone to use, with no limit on test time.
And to enable teams of all sizes to take advantage of the more than 2000 devices in Xamarin Test Cloud, Xamarin has rolled out new pricing options starting from $99 per month—billed annually. In addition, Xamarin platform customers can now receive 60 free Xamarin Test Cloud minutes per month. These new options, combined with access to Xamarin. UITest, make mobile quality accessible to everyone, Friedman said.
In a move to empower developers with analytics on their apps, Xamarin has taken its Xamarin Insights feature out of beta and has made it generally available in Xamarin 4. Xamarin Insights provides real-time app monitoring that helps businesses keep apps healthy and users happy. It provides error reporting, app performance and user-analytics data.
Enterprises need to quickly address app crashes and production issues to retain users. Xamarin Insights’ automatic error reports provide rich diagnostic data, including stack traces, device status information and user behavior, to allow teams to find root causes and deliver fixes quickly.
Meanwhile, the length of time it takes for users to perform key functions will often determine the success of an app, as mobile users expect instant access to features and data. With Insights, developers create custom events that detail how long key user interactions and other system events take. Monitoring these performance trends over time ensures that the most important user paths in an app are also the fastest paths. And understanding how users engage with apps is critical to winning user loyalty and gaining competitive advantage. Xamarin Insights lets organizations see traits, devices, session details and events for each of their users, providing the intelligence enterprises need to improve the user experience, from new feature discovery to UI refinements.
Finally, as part of Xamarin 4, the company is rolling out Xamarin Ultimate, which bundles Xamarin Platform, Test Cloud, Insights and Xamarin University into a complete package for teams to go mobile. Xamarin Ultimate makes it easy and economical for a business to scale apps and teams and to accelerate the mobile life cycle, Friedman said.
With more than 10,000 corporate customers, Xamarin 4 is the result of the company’s perspective on the most pervasive pain points facing mobile teams. In addition to the product enhancements in Xamarin 4, the company has also grown its course catalog to more than 60 mobile development classes in Xamarin University. In addition, Xamarin now has a team of mobile experts providing best practices guidance, so customers start their mobile journey on the right trajectory.
“As the largest job site in the United Kingdom, we need to deliver native apps that work on all devices,” said Yos Noor, head of research and innovation at reed.co.uk, in a statement. “Xamarin Platform, Xamarin Test Cloud and Insights have had a tremendous impact on our mobile strategy, providing a complete life cycle for delivering engaging, high-quality mobile experiences.”