Windows App Studio Does Universal Apps
Written by Lucy Black   
Wednesday, 27 May 2015

It is difficult to judge the level of interest in universal apps, perhaps because Microsoft isn't being very clear about exactly what they are, but now almost anyone can create them. App Studio now supports Windows 10 and universal apps.

In Windows 10 universal apps really are universal, well universal within the Microsoft universe anyway. You can use Visual Studio to create a single code base that will run on Windows 10 desktop, mobile or phone. This is amazing. Only of course, it isn't particularly amazing. It is what you would expect, and what should have happened, from the word go. Even so, the fact that Windows App Studio will now create universal apps is another attempt to get people more interested in them. 

App Studio now generates C# code that you can load into Visual Studio as the basis for your app. The big problem is that this particular app generator is very restricted in what you can generate.

The site that tries to sell you the idea of using App Studio make the problem very clear:

1) Have an idea

2) Add Content

3) Choose style

4) Use it.

The clue is in "add content" - this is more like a web site as app builder. You can package some content together with some simple and standardized actions - got to URL, email, phone and map. You can add some sections that take you to an RSS feed, You Tube, add some HTML and some simple data sources - RSS, Bing, Flicker. 

appstudio3

When you have looked at the sort of things on offer and the sort of apps you can create, it seems very limited. It isn't quite as limited as the initial impressions however as you could set up a special data source to display some custom and changing information to your users - but this is about as far as it goes. 

The new universal app feature means that the app you create will run on any Windows 10 device and it uses SplitView and VisualStateTriggers to adjust to the screen size for you. This might make the code generated useful as a starting point for a more sophisticated app. 

 

appstudio1

 

Also new are:

  • Live Tile Update
    Live Tile update no longer uses a background task that connects to a service to drive tile updates. This has been re-implemented using a platform feature called Tile Update.

  • Xbox Music Data Source
    Apps can now query the Xbox Music catalog to search for artists and meta data.

  • Bing Maps
    You can can now bring maps into your App Studio apps with support for the Bings Maps control.

  • Application Insights
    An analytics service that helps you monitor app usage and performance. 

At the moment you can't sideload apps into a Windows 10 phone, but then how many people actually have a Windows 10 phone. You can test your apps on the emulator of a developer phone connected via Visual Studio.

I can't say that I think App Studio is particularly useful to either programmers or non-programmers. All it is likely to do is fIll the Microsoft app store with low quality web site like apps.  You could probably use it to sell a few projects to customers wanting some sort of customized app that represented their enterprise in some way. 

appstudio2

More Information

Windows App Studio Beta for Windows 10 Insider Preview

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Windows Phone App Studio       

 

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 May 2015 )