Microsoft has announced the availability of two new Windows Phone SDKs. The Lumia SensorCore SDK beta and Nokia Imaging SDK 1.2 (now launching out of beta) offer new APIs that developers can use to create "contextual apps"; i.e., those that incorporate real-time monitoring and storing of data (such as steps taken), as well as automatic route tracking and activity recognition.
The cool and hip nature of these contextual "life-logging" application scenarios appears to have gone to Microsoft and Nokia's collective head, and some fairly hipster language has been used to explain how good they are. All these capabilities can be engineered in without "majorly impacting" battery life, unlike traditional motion sensors and GPS.
This means, say the firms, that the smartphone experience for Lumia owners will continually evolve, with smarter apps that are more in-tune with its users' daily lives.
- Activity Monitor API: determines the kind of activity the user is engaged in. If the device is idle or stationary, or if the user is walking or running. Apps can then adapt to these different situations easily, and activate — e.g., car or running mode.
- Step Counter API: gives possibilities for developers to create quantified self apps and life trackers, coupled with the other APIs.
- Place Monitor API: can identify known places, such as general area of the workplace or home, which can then be utilized to trigger actions with Windows Phone 8.1 Geofencing API.
- Track Point Monitor API: this API establishes the user's routes from one place to another. This creates opportunities for apps that optimize routes, offer services along a route, or just provide information to the user.
According to a press statement, Imaging SDK 1.2 gives developers access to a library of image-manipulation tools, which builds on the resources available through Imaging SDK 1.1 now. This technology is designed with performance and a low-memory footprint in mind: "The latest SDK brings new features including animation and new filter effects, and makes manipulation of high-resolution images swift and engaging. Furthermore, Imaging SDK 1.2 supports Windows Phone 8.1 and is illustrating the opportunity with platform convergence with Windows."