Xamarin Offers Developers Same-Day Support for Amazon Fire Phone

Xamarin says it will provide developers with same-day support for building apps on the Amazon Fire Phone, which will be available on July 25.

Mobile apps

Xamarin, a maker of cross-platform development tools for mobile app builders, announced that its platform supports the new Amazon Fire Phone.

Xamarin's tools empower more than 650,000 developers to build native mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows. As the Amazon Fire Phone is the latest major entry in the Android smartphone space, Xamarin developers are now able to deliver native apps that take advantage of the new smartphone's capabilities, using shared code from iOS and Android apps.

Xamarin officials said support for the new phone builds on the company's support for the latest disruptive devices like Google Glass, Android Wear and Amazon Fire TV, empowering developers to take advantage of new technologies. Xamarin also announced support for the upcoming iOS 8 platform from Apple.

Using Xamarin to develop for Amazon's Fire Phone is relatively easy as the phone runs on the Android-based Fire OS, which Xamarin already supports. To take advantage of new features of the Amazon Fire Phone, developers just need to download the Amazon Fire Phone Component from the Xamarin Component Store. Xamarin's same-day support means that Xamarin developers can be early to market with a native Fire Phone app when the smartphone is made available to the public on July 25.

Developers can create new types of immersive experiences like head tracking and motion gesture recognition by using the Dynamic Perspective SDK. Additionally, with the Firefly SDK, developers can deliver more contextually relevant experiences by tapping into Amazon Web Services to easily detect and gather information about text, audio, and rich visual content like images and videos.

Xamarin addresses the challenges of the proliferation of smart devices by unifying native mobile development for iOS, Android, Windows, Google Glass, Android Wear, Fire TV and Fire OS in C#, the language used by an estimated 6 million developers worldwide. By unifying native mobile app development with Xamarin, developers can decrease the time and resources needed to deliver native mobile apps.

"Providing a common way to handle forms across the three mobile platforms is a first for Xamarin and it is done in a way that adapts well to the native look and feel of each platform," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "We are seeing more and more enterprises adopting a mobile-first orientation for their app dev investment and so these tools are coming at just the right time as enterprises negotiate these challenges."

Xamarin's support for the Amazon Fire Phone comes on the heels of the release of Xamarin 3, which the company delivered at the end of May. Xamarin 3 provides an alternative to Apple's Xcode Interface Builder for designing iOS apps in Xamarin. It also provides developers with a mobile API for building app UI for iOS, Android and Windows Phone using shared code.

"Today, a large part of every business process and customer transaction happens on a mobile device," said Nat Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Xamarin, in a statement. "Xamarin's unique approach of giving developers full native power combined with code-sharing agility, has already helped thousands of businesses successfully deliver on their mobile strategy. Xamarin 3 makes it even faster for developers to reach mobile users on all major platforms."

New features include the Xamarin Designer for iOS, which enables developers to stay in a single development environment for the entire app development process. The Xamarin Designer for iOS enables developers to create and modify iOS 6 and 7 storyboard files and includes support for auto-layout. Going beyond Xcode, the Xamarin Designer for iOS has simple and intuitive event handling, and it previews custom controls so that developers see in the Xamarin Designer exactly what will be on the screen in their iOS apps.

Another feature, Xamarin.Forms, is a simple API enabling developers to build shared user interface code for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Xamarin.Forms apps are native, and it is easy to mix and match Xamarin.Forms shared code UI with platform-specific nuances for control on each platform. Xamarin.Forms includes more than 40 controls, layouts and other essential classes for developing compelling native user interfaces with shared code.

Xamarin 3 also introduced two new code-sharing techniques for cross-platform apps: Shared Projects and Portable Class Libraries (PCLs). Shared Projects provide a simple approach to code sharing for cross-platform application developers. Xamarin developers can now use Shared Projects to share code across iOS, Android and Windows in either Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio. Portable Class Libraries offer a mechanism for building libraries that are consumable across a diverse range of .NET runtimes, including Xamarin.iOS, Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.Mac, as well as Windows Phone, Windows Store, and other .NET platforms. Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio support both the creation and consumption of PCLs in Xamarin projects.

Xamarin 3 also includes support for using NuGet packages in mobile apps—in Visual Studio or Xamarin Studio. Xamarin Studio features documentation for the .NET Base Class Libraries (BCL) as well as built-in support for building iOS and Android apps using the F# functional programming language.

"Mobile is an increasingly strategic channel for us to engage with our readers," said Ian Rosen, vice president and general manager of MarketWatch and SmartMoney at Dow Jones, in a statement. "Xamarin made it possible for our team to build an app much more quickly than we otherwise could have."