Microsoft’s Universal Windows App platform (UWA or UWP, depending on whom you ask) is vitally important to the success of Windows 10 and, perhaps even more so, to Windows 10 Mobile. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer might think that Android apps are the way to go, but current CEO Satya Nadella is sold on UWP as the way forward. Therefore, it’s good to see the company making continuous improvements to the platform, as the Windows blog outlined yesterday.
Microsoft made a number of to the Windows 10 SDK in build 10586, and they spent some time highlighting them in yesterday’s blog post. It looks like efforts were made to improve the SDK in a few key areas.
UI design and performance
Microsoft implemented a number of changes to make designing good-looking and -performing apps easier and more efficient.
- New Windows.UI.Composition API: faster graphical rendering, new declarative animation engine, and a high-performance, real-time UI effects system
- XAML Updates: new classes for creating Jump Lists, clipboard formatting with updated RichText API, updated Maps API for improved navigation, default menu size improvements
- PhotoShop Design Kit: new UWP app design templates for Adobe Photoshop, also updated PowerPoint and Adobe Illustrator templates. A guidelines PDF was also made available. https://dev.windows.com/design/assets
Hardware, driver, and data access support improvements
Support for a variety of hardware types and data access was improved, including Bluetooth and networking, computer vision cameras, device storage, and sensors.
- Bluetooth and Networking: new pairing methods, improved Sockets, updated cookies controls.
- Sensors: a wide range of improvements to sensor feature support, custom sensors, Sensor Batching. More information is available. http://blogs.windows.com/buildingapps/2015/08/11/contextual-sensing-in-windows-10/
- Windows.Devices.Perception namespace: APIs were added to enable access to color, depth, and infrared data from computer vision cameras.
- Device Storage: more flexibility in storing files and associating them to users.
- SQLite: SQLite support was added to enable local data access across all Windows 10 devices, can now reference SDK SQLite instead of packaging a library with an app. The information on how to access data was updated to include the use of SQLite.
Microsoft made it easier to install and certify apps.
- More Efficient and Flexible AppX Installation: installation footprint was reduces from 2X the AppX package size to an incremental increase (e.g., a 1GB app now requires 1.1GB instead of 2GB), the ability to install apps to secondary drives was added.
- Windows App Certification Kit (Windows ACK): updated with improved tests. Learn more here.
There’s tons of information in the blog post and elsewhere on the changes to UWP development in Windows 10 SDK build 10586. If you’re a developer, you should go check them out and get to making some awesome Universal Windows apps. For the rest of us, it’s just good to know that Microsoft continues to make a concerted effort to improve UWP app development, because we’d sure like that app gap to go away someday.