READ THIS FIRSTUpdate: 3-4-2016: If you're finding this blog and looking for information related to Azure Mobile Services, I'd strongly recommend checking out Azure Mobile Apps. Azure Mobile Apps is a new version (consider it a v2) of Azure's mobile backend support. All of the same features of Azure Mobile Services are there, with a lot of other very cool features to go along. You can read more about Azure Mobile Apps, and how to transition from Azure Mobile Services, here.
I’m psyched to announce that today we’ve released the official Android SDK for Windows Azure Mobile Services. Android developers can now take advantage of structured data storage, authentication, and push notifications using Google Cloud Messaging all using a super easy to use and understand native Java SDK. With the addition of this SDK, Mobile Services now has official support across four platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows Store. This means that you can rest easy knowing that when you create your app first on one of those platforms, you’ll be able to access the same exact Mobile Service using a very similar SDK on the other ones. With the release of the SDK today, I’d like to share with you a few different resources you can use for more information.
Getting a free account
First of all, just as a reminder, you can get a free 3 month trial with Windows Azure by signing up at http://windowsazure.com. Just click on the try it free button. This gets you access to 10 free mobile services!
Someone decided it would be a good idea for me to record a video, so I did! You can watch me in all my glory (re: Android t-shirt) as I talk about the release of the Android SDK and walk through creating a new Mobile Service in the Windows Azure Portal. I then download the quick start Android application and run that in the emulator before walking through a little bit of the code. Lastly, I go over the features of Mobile Services at a high level in case you haven’t heard about them yet before.
In addition to the quick start application, which is a simple ToDo list, I’ve released two additional sample applications you can look at. Both of these have been open sourced on GitHub and include a “before Mobile Services” version and a “with Mobile Services” version. The implementation details are light in the readmes for these samples but I’ll be expanding on them via blog posts in the near future.
The first sample demonstrates how you can use Mobile Services to host and serve up a leaderboard for your games. In this case, the game is Tic Tac Toe and it will record each of your wins, losses, and ties to a table in Mobile Services. The app can then pull that data and display how each player is doing in order of best to “really bad at Tic Tac Toe”. This is a pretty straight forward data demo though it does make use of some server side scripts. You can access the source code for this sample here.
The second sample demonstrates how you could use Mobile Services to capture feedback in your applications. The idea is that inside your application you could have a form that users could use to give you comments on your application as well as to give it a star rating. This is a very straight forward data demo (no server side scripts) that just takes the data into a table in Mobile Services. This sample was built in such a way that you could fairly easily take the layout and class files that handle the feedback and put them in your own applications (you’d just need to configure the class to connect to your Mobile Service and launch the feedback activity). You can access the source code for this sample here.
In addition to the samples above, we’ve released tutorials on the Mobile Services dev center to walk you through how to add data storage, authentication, and push notifications to Android apps. You can find all of the tutorials by going here. Also, you can go to my earlier post on Common Scenarios with Mobile Services which I’ve now updated to include links to the different Android tutorials.
Blog Post Walkthroughs
I decided to be extra proactive with this launch and have put together two blog posts detailing how to add authentication to the quick start Todo List application as well as how to add push notifications. These are similar to the tutorials mentioned above but with a bit more detail to help you understand what’s going on. You can access these tutorials at the links below:
- Adding Authentication to Android Apps with Mobile Services
- Adding Push Notifications to Android Apps with GCM and Mobile Services
Update: Android SDK Version Support
Since a few people have asked or thought differently, I wanted to clear up what versions of Android are supported by the Mobile Services SDK. The short answer is 2.2 (or level 8) and up. The Mobile Services SDK will build and run with any device running 2.2 or greater. The reason why the quick start application requires 4.2 (level 17) is that it has it's targetSdkVersion in it's manifest file set to 4.2. That's all. The app will still run on 2.2, it's just set to build against 4.2.
More to come!
There’s quite a bit here to go through but I’m going to have even more soon. I’ll be walking through each of the samples as well as putting more videos up on connecting Android apps to Mobile Services. I couldn’t be more excited about getting this out to everyone and seeing Android apps start to make use of it. If you start using Mobile Services in your apps (Android, iOS, or anything else), I’d love to hear about it!