Today at Build 2017, Microsoft announced a preview version of Xamarin Live Player, which is in some ways the final piece of the mobile development puzzle.
“Today we’ve released the preview of Xamarin Live Player, a live coding environment to make development and debugging faster,” Microsoft’s Nat Friedman explains in a bit of under-selling. Folks, Xamarin Live Player is huge. It lets you develop iOS apps on Windows—without a Mac—for the first time.
UPDATE: Microsoft has now clarified how this tool works, and you will eventually need a Mac. Please check out Microsoft Clarifies How Xamarin Live Player Works for more info. –Paul
If you’re familiar with Xamarin development today, you know that you can use Visual Studio to create mobile apps that run natively on Windows, Android, and iOS. And that you can even create solutions that create separate apps for each platform, sharing code when possible.
To date, this process has typically involved using Android virtual machines and, for iOS, a remote connection to a separate Mac that needs Xcode, Apple’s development environment, installed and properly configured.
With Xamarin Live Player, developers will be able to do everything from their Windows-based PC: Just connect your Android device, iPhone, or iPad to the PC via USB and you can target those devices directly during development.
“Simply pair your device with Visual Studio by scanning a QR code, and hit debug like you normally would,” Nat explains. “The application is deployed in seconds to the Live Player app, enabling you to quickly develop and test your changes without having to recompile and redeploy your application. And you can set breakpoints and debug your application, on device, and over the air.”
Xamarin Live Player even supports live code changes via a feature called Live Run. This means that developers can change their code during debugging and have the changes reflect in the app on the device immediately.
Live Player Preview will be delivered as an extension for Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio for Mac starting today. And the Live Player app for Android and iOS will likewise be made available in the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.