Microsoft has announced the new Windows Phone SDK 8.0, which includes new tools for testing and debugging, a Wallet API to help developers make money with their apps, and tools for building and adding such features as voice recognition, VoIP, and camera integration.
The new SDK provides standalone IDE (integrated development environment), using the Visual Studio Express 2012 edition, for developers to build Windows Phone 8 applications. It also provides an add-in to the Visual Studio 2012 Professional, Premium, or Ultimate editions.
To help developers cash in on their apps, Windows Phone 8 has introduced the Wallet, which is capable of collecting coupons, credit cards, and loyalty numbers from a single location; managing payment instruments in the app and music store; and making contactless transactions via NFC. According to Microsoft, the Wallet API offers full programmatic access to the Wallet, allowing developers to create, read, update, and delete Wallet items.
The SDK also includes tools for helping developers spruce up their apps. For example, developers can create camera apps, dubbed a lens in Microsoft vernacular. A lens opens from the platform’s built-in camera app for users to shoot pictures on the spot. Rich-media lenses support the viewing and editing of digital photos; the lens feature also can be used for scanning bar codes and displaying related data from a local folder.
Additionally, the SDK includes tools for adding three types of speech components to their apps: voice commands, speech recognition, and text-to-speech. Using the voice command functionality, developers can set up their apps so that phrases link to specific app pages, perform specific tasks, or initiate actions. Speech recognition, though similar in concept, is developed in a different way with a different API, according to Microsoft. The key difference between the two: Speech recognition occurs inside an app, while voice commands occur outside.
The SDK also enables developers to build VoIP (Voice over IP) apps, enabling users to make audio and video calls over their data connections. The apps integrate with the Windows Phone 8 platform such that incoming calls are displayed with the same phone UI as regular calls.
The Windows Phone SDK 8.0 is available at the Windows Phone website.