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.NET clone takes a bite out of Ice Cream Sandwich

Dec 5, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Xamarin announced the availability of an Android 4.0 version of its Mono software, letting .NET and C# developers use Microsoft Visual Studio build Android applications in a familiar environment. Mono for Android 4.0 is the first version to support Android tablets, and it adds an “incremental” build technology that significantly reduces debugging and development cycles, says the company.

Novell announced its first Android version of the Mono open source .NET clone in April. Since then, Novell was acquired by Attachmate, and the company's Mono project spun off as a new company called Xamarin.

The startup, founded by Miguel de Icaza, Nat Friedman, and Joseph Hill, is increasingly focused on pushing out Apple iOS and Android mobile versions of Mono, helping mainstream software developers move into mobile apps and integrate them with enterprise software.

Mono for Android follows upon Xamarin's similar MonoTouch platform for the iPhone and iPad.  Like the original Android 2.3 ready Mono for Android (pictured), the new "Ice Cream Sandwich" (ICS) version consists of a plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio, a core Mono runtime, a software development kit (SDK), and bindings for native Android APIs.

The software is designed to let .NET developers use their existing code, libraries and tools, including Visual Studio, for Android development. With Mono for Android, developers can also call upon their native skills in .NET and the C# programming language in developing Android apps, says the company.

Mono for Android 4.0 provides access to all the new features, native APIs, and UI toolkits in Android 4.0, says the company. The key benefit for Mono developers is that it's the first version to support tablets. Among other enhancements, the smartphone- and tablet-friendly Android 4.0 offers a revamped user interface, a faster browser, an improved camera interface, plus facial recognition and text-to-speech features.

40 percent shorter build times

Mono for Android 4.0 adds an incremental build technology that reduces debugging and development cycles "dramatically," according to Xamarin. Build times are 40 percent shorter, while incremental deployment to devices "shortens the development cycle from minutes to seconds," claims the company.

Mono for Android 4.0 also debuts a new installer that helps ease Android development environment, by combining required components into a single, unified installation experience, says Xamarin. This is claimed to be much easier than Java-based Android development, in which a "myriad of installs" is required. Xamarin also includes new Mono for Android tutorials, says the company.

Stated Miguel de Icaza, CTO of Xamarin, "Thousands of developers depend on Xamarin to build the newest applications for mobile devices."


Mono for Android 4.0 is available now. Pricing was not specified, but appears to be the same as the existing Mono for Android. The software is available in a free emulator-only evaluation version, as well as a Professional Edition, costing $399 per developer for a one-year subscription, an Enterprise Edition for $999 per developer for a one-year subscription, including maintenance and updates, and a $2,499 Enterprise Priority version that adds priority support and guaranteed response time.

More information, as well as a product order page, may be found at Xamarin's Mono for Android product page.

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