Want to code for Google Glass in C#? Xamarin's got you covered

Cross-platform tools bring Microsoft-style app dev to Google headsets


Cross-platform development tools vendor Xamarin has rolled out new components that allow coders to use its products to build apps for Google Glass.

Xamarin, which was founded by Mono project creators Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman, offers tools based on the open source .Net clone that allow developers to more easily build apps for Android, iOS, and OS X devices using a substantially similar code base for all three.

Ordinarily, developers write native mobile apps for Android and Apple's platforms using the Java and Objective-C languages, respectively. Xamarin's tools make it possible for developers to use Microsoft's C# language to target any of the above, even using Redmond's Visual Studio tool suite to create their apps, if they choose.

Glass isn't a smartphone, obviously, but it does run Android – version 4.04, to be precise – which means it's a potential target for Xamarin's tools. On Thursday, Xamarin made available a set of extra bits for its Xamarin.Android product that allow it to package apps for the high-tech specs.

The components bridge Xamarin-based code written in C# with the Glass Development Kit (GDK), the new native API for Glass that Google launched in November.

Before the GDK, the only way to write apps for Glass was to use the Mirror API, which provided a means to create web-based services that displayed information on Glass. GDK-based apps, by comparison, are delivered as standard Android APK packages and their code runs on the Glass hardware itself.

The version of the GDK that's available now is only considered a "sneak peek" – not even a developer preview – so a lot will probably change before Google releases the final version, and Xamarin will likely need to tweak its tools accordingly. But the current version should allow coders to create a variety of apps using Xamarin's C#-derived development model.

That should please Microsoft, which has been working with Xamarin to improve the cross-platform capabilities of its tools and should appreciate that C# developers can now code for Glass – that is, at least, until Redmond releases a Google Glass rival of its own.

The catch? Only a mild one. Xamarin offers a 30-day free trial of its tools and the Glass components are a free download. But to install and test your apps you'll still need access to a Glass headset – no emulator is available – which means you'll need to be accepted to Google's Glass Explorer program, which you can apply for here. ®

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