It isn’t often that a mobile app changes the way I think about the mobile computing world. But, Microsoft Research’ TouchStudio app for Windows Phone 7 did just that. If fact, it or some production release follow-up product may help change the whole platform hierarchy in the next year or two. One of the big differnces between smartphones, tablets and full featured personal computers is that the mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) do not generally provide a way for the end user to create apps on the device itself. This was a hallmark of the early PCs like the TRS-80, Apple II, and IBM PC which all provided the BASIC programming language burned right into the firmware that shipped with the computer.
Microsoft Research’s free TouchStudio app for Windows Phone 7 (available in the Windows Phone Marketplace) changes everything.
TouchStudio does not require any special jailbreaking process or developer setting. You can go to the Windows Phone Marketplace, download and install it for free, tap its icon, try a few samples and then write your own code.
TouchStudio’s programming language is surprisingly rich and sophisticated. It lets you control and use the phone’s camera, microphone, email, and web functions. It provides a solid set of graphics and math functions too. I can forsee many people writing custom complex calculation apps for Windows Phone for daily use.
There are a couple of question marks, however. There isn’t much in the way of how-to documentation beyond studying the sample code (this is very typical in the programming world). And, there isn’t any obvious way to share code for distribution beyond the phone the code was developed on. And, of course, it would be nice to be able to type code with a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard (Windows Phone does not support BT keyboards). That said, I am amazed and dazzled by the prospect of what TouchStudio and its successors can allow Windows Phone users to do with their phone. This makes Windows Phone so much more useful than it already was. Its high level of programming abstraction lets you create apps to perform relatively complex tasks with simple programming.
Microsoft Research TouchStudio is a game changer.