Microsoft announces Visual Studio Mobile Centre preview at Connect();

Microsoft’s Connect(); has kicked off – and some major announcements are coming out of it; during the keynote, Nat Friedman – Corporate Vice President, Mobile Developer Tools at Microsoft – introduced the Visual Studio Mobile Centre: a set of cloud services to track, build, and manage your mobile apps on iOS and Android.

Microsoft says Visual Studio Mobile Centre is the next generation of their existing mobile developer services – namely, HockeyApp and Xamarin Test Cloud; Xamarin seems to have taken a back seat on the Mac as well, with the upcoming Visual Studio for Mac.

Visual Studio Mobile Centre preview

What it can do for you

The mobile center is designed to help you and your team build better apps in less time – it’s supposed to increase your efficiency, by giving you tools that help you track, manage, build, distribute, test, and scale your apps in real-time – all from the cloud.

For now, a preview is available – free, but with metering to ensure everyone gets a chance to use the service; here’s what the preview offers:

  • Build your apps automatically with every pull request
  • Test apps on thousands of real-world devices
  • Distribute passing builds to beta testers
  • Monitor apps for crashes and bugs
  • Learn about real world usage with mobile analytics
  • Connect to a mobile backend for automatic scaling and to add essential cloud services like offline data sync, tabular data storage, and end-user authentication services

It’s a start. When the Mobile Centre is out of preview, Microsoft plans on adding support for Cordova and UWP as well, along with additional cloud services such as push notifications and advanced analytics.

It’s worth noting that the preview does not support UWP or Windows 10 Mobile apps – Microsoft’s lack of attention to its own operating system is not new, but it is still not a pleasant sight.

What you can do for it

The preview is out – Microsoft is asking developers to try it out and provide feedback to fix up any bugs and apply that polish expected from the final product.

Since Microsoft is calling this the next generation of their existing mobile developer services – Visual Studio Mobile Centre will start showing apps from HockeyApp and Xamarin Test Cloud sometime later next year, in preparation for a seamless transition.

To get into the preview, you must visit this page and request an invitation – once approved, you can start using the service.

You can also read more about this announcement at Microsoft’s official blog.

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