Over the past few months, the Redmond based technology titan has extensively detailed the new consumer features of Windows 8.1, and now the company is shifting focusing towards developers.
Microsoft has included several new and innovative APIs in the upcoming operating system.
And one of the most appealing features of Windows 8.1 Preview was its support for an even wider range of devices than previous version of the OS. Windows 8, for example, already offers support for various device scenarios — everything from print and sensors to geolocation.
Still, Windows 8 provides somewhat limited support for arbitrary devices, which is available only for dedicated device applications. This changed in Windows 8.1 Preview, as Microsoft added support for APIs like Point of Sale (POS), 3D printing, scanning, and more in the newest version.
In a blog post, George Roussos, a senior program manager explained this in detail:
“Device protocol APIs, new to Windows 8.1, allow a Windows Store app to talk to a device over industry standard protocols like USB, HID, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, and Wi-Fi Direct.”
What this means is that any Windows 8 app can now communicate with a device, and these device protocol APIs will provide developers the ability to create custom apps for controlling a device without the need for custom drivers:
“As a developer, all you need to do is simply identify the device (leveraging metadata) and then open a communication channel to the device. Opening a channel prompts for user consent. This is a critical step to help prevent apps from accidentally or maliciously communicating with one or more devices without the user’s awareness.
Once access is granted, the app can communicate with a device, including starting long data transfers, which can continue even if the user swipes to another app.”
The company says that this access allows even casual home developers to come up with their own software to communicate with non-standard device. Microsoft goes on to say that even high school students will be able to come up with a simple app that controls a small hardware for a science project.