Developing Apps for Windows 10 Mobile Devices: A Quick Guide

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Editor's Note: Microsoft announced in October 2017 that it would no longer plan new features or hardware for the Windows 10 Mobile smartphone platform. 

Windows 10, Microsoft’s most eagerly anticipated OS, was expected to catapult Microsoft back into the top of the fray. Powered by the Universal Windows Platform, this upgrade offers developers several new tools, features and functionality. 

Here is a quick guide for mobile app developers to create applications for the giant’s brand new OS….

Preparing the Device for Development

Windows 10 follows a different procedure for app development. Listed below are steps you need to follow in order to prepare your device for development on Windows 10 devices….

  • Developers no longer need a separate license for each device they want to develop, test or deploy their apps. Instead, they need to enable their devices just once, using the settings tab.
  • In case you are using Windows 8.1, you will have to apply for a developer license or register your Windows Phone device.
  • In case you are using Visual Studio, you will be asked to enable your device, via a dialog prompt. You need to click on ‘Settings for Developers’ and then go to the ‘Update & Security’ page. Follow the ensuing steps to complete the initial preparation of your device.
  • Next, you need to choose the tasks you wish to enable on your preferred Windows Phones or tablets. You have the option of enabling your device for development and also for sideloading other apps. Microsoft stipulates certain privacy policies for sideloading apps.
  • Windows 10 OS to Support Mobile Payment 

Security on Windows Phones and Tablets

Universal Windows Apps are signed, so as to provide the maximum possible security for your chosen mobile device. Ensure that the app package you install on your device is from a trustworthy source. For this, the certificate used to sign the app must be installed onto your device. Further, the settings that you select will influence the level of your device’s security.

In order to sideload apps on a Windows smartphone, the certificate already needs to be installed onto the device. You can then proceed by selecting the sideload app settings. To sideload apps on a tablet, you need to install an .appx and other certificates which are necessary to run the app along with PowerShell. Alternately, you can manually install the certificate and the app package separately as well.

Debugging Apps

On Windows smartphones, you can install any .appx app package and run the same without the need for installing a certificate. In case you have selected developer mode, click the file and proceed to install the same onto your device. Ensure, though, that you can the package you are using to test the app is from a trustworthy source. For tablets, you can directly start debugging your apps once you choose developer mode, without needing a developer license for it. You can also sideload apps by installing the .appx and the related certificate.

Deploying Apps

In order to deploy apps from a Windows 10 desktop to a mobile device running the same operating system, you will have to use the WinAppDeployCmd tool available to you. Make sure that both the devices are connected to the selfsame subnet of the network; wired or otherwise. Note that these devices can also be connected via USB. Also, remember that you cannot use this tool to install certificates.

Submitting Apps to the Windows Store 

Microsoft is now encouraging app developers to create different, usable apps for its Windows 10 devices. The Windows Store is inviting app submissions for its latest platform. Providing a unified app marketplace, the store also offers more discoverability for apps; thereby, opening up more opportunities for developers to increase revenue.