I have just attended the 2nd WP7 session. This was another 100 level, which means that it just just another run through of the vision and platform and stuff. No dev stuff yet. It did produce some new information though. First, the Silverlight environment on the phone will be a superset of Silverlight 3. That is SL 3 with some SL 4 features and some “custom” stuff. This first surprised me, but it is pretty obvious to be honest. A lot of the new features in v4 extended the offline feature of SL, which won’t be available on the phone anyway.
We also got information about the app deployment. It will only be possible to deploy through Microsoft’s Marketplace, which is a bit sad. I had really hoped they wouldn’t go down that track and end up where Apple is. Let’s just hope that there isn’t the same amount of censoring. There are some good reason for enforcing deployment like this. MS will for example disassemble the application and check the code that isn’t trying to break out of the sandbox. This means that the phone doesn’t have to enforce this in the same way, and thus save on computing power… So I guess there are reasons. It will also be possible to try before you buy. There will be a simple way to see if the application is running in trial mode, and then limit it based on that. So it will be easy for the dev to support a try before you buy scenario, which will probably be very appreciated by the end users…
What I like most though, is the effort Microsoft has put into the design part of the phone… The user experience and the design is considered VERY important. It is more or less driving the development of the platform. If it isn’t sweet for the user, it shouldn’t be there. They are also making sure that the 3rd party apps integrate into the phone in a seamless way. not at separate apps, but more as extensions to the system. If you want that is, you can still build “real” applications that sit on the sidelines, but to be honest, most of the applications will integrate with the phones “hubs”. The next talk is all about designing and building for the phone. I assume this will be all about how to build your applications for the phone so that the integrate nicely and give a consistent look and feel. And that they work as intuitively as the rest of the phone.
Oh yeah…I mentioned “hubs” before. The phone, as most probably already know, does not focus around apps or functionality. It is focused around data. If you want to do something with one a contact, such as send a text or make a call or whatever, you go into the “people hub”. If you want to work with music that’s another hub. And if you want to look at, or manipulate, your images, you go to another “hub”. This will probably take some time to get used to, but it seems like a really well thought through way of doing it. It feels a lot more natural. It also means that a lot of the applications that are built, will be accessed through these hubs instead of being accessed as separate apps.
I think it really shows off how much Microsoft has thought about this and actually tried to invent something new and useful instead of just copying something that already works (read iPhone). This is kind of risky, as users will have to adapt, but so far most people seem impressed. Even the iPhone users here seem to want to get their hands on a WP7. I think that it will be very successful if the end product can live up to all they promise during these talks.
Right now, my main concern is that there have been a lot of “accidental clicks” in the UI during demos. The Scrolling seem to lag just a little bit and not flow quite as smooth as the iPhone for example. I hope this is just due to the non beta status of the OS and that this will be smooth as a baby’s butt when it finally comes out… I want that to be today!
And one final note. We Silverlight devs need to start talking to our dear friends in the XNA space. The phone supports full 3D through XNA, which is another great feature. I guess I just have to learn how to work with it. The demo 3D XNA games they’ve showed off look really impressive and I think we will see some REALLY sweet games for this phone. Just imagine what you can do with full 3D XNA, compass, gyros and internet connection…hmm…lots!