Mix started off with a kick. As expected, the focus of the keynote on day one was the new Windows Phone 7 platform. For those of you who were there, you will remember the rather amazing pre-show entertainment. Check out a video and a long post after the jump…
The young and very talented yoyo-champion managed to entertain the crowd for quite a while before the show began. Here is a short clip.
I won’t be covering every part of the keynote, just some select parts which I found especially interesting. The keynote in it’s entirety is available at http://live.visitmix.com/Videos along with each session video. You should watch it there and see my posts on sessions as a commentary.
It seems I was fairly close on target with my post on Silverlight Market Penetration last week. One of the first announcements was that since GDC, Silverlight had seen an increase from 45 to 60 percent. I really hope we’ll see Silverlight reach the 90% barrier before the end of 2010.
Windows Phone 7
We first saw a general overview of the features that we already knew much about; the live tiles, the panoramic hub design, the simplistic user interface, etc. One of my very favorite new features was part of the calendar application. For every scheduled meeting, there was a “I’ll be late” button. I think it’s kind of humorous as well as useful.
As some knew and almost everyone had guessed, Silverlight is the official application language in which to create applications. The nice thing is that we’re not talking Silverlight-light or Silverlight Mobile. Any code that runs in Silverlight 3 will run on Windows Phone 7. Of course the way we design our applications is different but the code is the same. Yet another reason to learn Silverlight. One interesting aspect here (which actually was discussed in a later session) is that WP7 uses a souped up version of Silverlight 3. There are some SL4 features, but not all of them. I don’t see this being a very big issue since some of the major improvements in SL4 aren’t going to translate very well to WP7 anyway (right-click, printing, webcam for example).
I really like the built in photo editing tools. God knows not all my mobile snapshots are instant keepers and the ability to crop, recolor and generally mess around is fun. I’ll be looking forward to the first face distortion application as well.
Giving developers access to raw voice input is a very nice touch. This was demoed with the help of Shazam, the online song recognition service. I foresee this functionality being instrumental in several apps as well as some games. Maybe a Pheonix Wright style game where voice commands actually matter.
Windows Phone 7 game idea!
First off, development tools are FREE for anyone to download. This includes both Visual Studio 2010 express, Expression Blend 4 as well as XNA 4.0. Pretty amazing. Go HERE to find all the tools you need. The tools feature an emulator which is fairly stable but with some quirks. I must admit that I think everyone at MIX was fairly disappointed to find out that no-one would be getting devkits before early summer. This was part due to production issues and part because there are still parts of the phone’s functionality that Microsoft isn’t talking about. Chat is one of the “sensitive areas”. I really hope we see full OCS accessibility. The fact that no-one has devkits impacts some areas of development such as game development since some aspects such as the accelerometer can’t be tested and therefore not developed for.
One very positive aspect is that the development environment supports full debugging and breakpoints. Working without breakpoints is very tedious.
As the presentation went on, some more details about the app store were revealed, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post. I think one of the most popular demos (Steve Ballmer marionette aside) was the Shirt Cannon. The guys at Coding4Fun had created an actual cannon which was operated with a Dr.Horrible–esque app on the phone. I later talked to one of them. He was familiar with Dr.Horrible but told me he actually never thought of the similarities. Long story short, phones controls cannons, cannons blast humans (with red polo-shirts), everyone’s happy.