We'll freely admit that much of what developers do is a mystery to us, some sort of magical concoction of code and pixie dust that eventually becomes a working application. But we do understand the importance of APIs – application programming interfaces – and that's why we get a little excited for our dev friends when we hear that Microsoft will be making their lives a little easier.
From the same ZDNet story (and spotted by wmpu) that brought us the announcement of a Windows Mobile 6.5 "launch presentation" at TechEd also comes word of a session on APIs, specifically that there now is a "Windows Mobile Unified Sensor API to access hardware sensors," and an SDK to control the camera.
“The world of mobility has evolved. While keypads, stylus, and keyboards are all good and fine for device input, newer input methods have been popularized in recent years, such as accelerometers, touch screen gestures, capacitive touch screens, light sensors, and such. More than just gadgets and gimmicks, these next-generation input methods allow you, the mobile developer, to offer the best interface possible to your users on the road, enhancing their device experience. This session explores various input methods available on some of the latest Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 devices and how to programmatically leverage them using managed APIs from Microsoft .NET Compact Framework-based applications. Topics covered include working with the Windows Mobile Unified Sensor API to access hardware sensors, controlling device cameras using the Windows Mobile SDK, capturing stylus and finger gestures on touch screens, detecting ambient light, making your device vibrate and sound-off, and more.”
In layman's terms? Whereas HTC writes its own code to access, say, the accelerometer on its phones, and Samsung has another for the Omnia – and the two didn't always play nicely within the same application – now there will be one API to rule them all, developed by Microsoft. And don't get too excited over the use of capacitive touchscreens as an example up there. We're not expecting to see any capacitive screens with Windows Mobile 6.5.
But we're not just talking G-sensors here. Basically anything that makes your phone do anything will be standardized across the platforms, and that should make a better user experience for our code-loving friends, as well as the rest of us.
Update: Er, apparently there's no unified API framework as reported elsewhere and repeated here. Move along, folks. And thanks, Joel, for that heads up. (We're feeling a bit like ol' Michael Scott when he followed his GPS straight into the lake, but these things happen.)