Microsoft Clarifies How Xamarin Live Player Works

Posted on May 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev, iOS, Mobile, Windows 10 with 7 Comments

Last week, Microsoft announced a preview version of a new tool called Xamarin Player that lets developers create iOS apps directly from a Windows PC. Today, however, the software provided a bit of clarification, noting that you will still need to involve a Mac eventually.

Reading over my original story, I can see that I contributed to the confusion: Xamarin Player isn’t actually a complete end-to-end solution. Instead, it’s a way to get up and running more quickly. But if you’re going to develop iOS apps using Visual Studio and Xamarin—and Xamarin Player—you will still need to involve a Mac too.

My bad. So let’s step through how this really works.

Before Xamarin Player, you could use the Xamarin technologies in Visual Studio 2017 to create cross-platform apps that run on Windows 10, Android, and iOS, and from a single solution in that environment. For testing and debugging purchases, the Windows 10 versions of those apps could run directly on the PC, or in a virtual machine. And the Android versions of those apps could run on a virtual machine as well.

But iOS was a lot more complicated: You had to remotely connect to a properly-configured Mac on your local network and then compile and run the app on an iOS emulator on the Mac.

With Xamarin Player, developers can get up and running with iOS more quickly and easily. So, now you can “write, execute, and debug code continuously on an iOS [or Android] device straight from the [Visual Studio] IDE,” as Microsoft’s Joseph Hill notes. But … “to completely develop your app for iOS, you’ll need to install and configure a complete Xamarin development environment, which requires a Mac for iOS tools, including storyboard designers, app extension development, app packaging/signing, and more.”

As it turns out, you will likewise need to install and configure Google’s Android developer tools—Android Studio and Java—on your dev PC to completely develop an Android app too. As with the iOS experience above, Xamarin Player can help you get up and running more quickly using a physical device, but you will eventually be at the mercy of the platform makers’ tools on both systems.

Sorry if I confused anyone. And check out the Xamarin Player FAQ for more answers.


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