Microsoft's Remote Systems API to Improve Cross-Device Experiences

Microsoft recently shed some light on the Remote Systems API, a new tool that's part of Project Rome for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The goal is to make it easier for people to consume content across multiple devices in a seamless manner. Microsoft hopes developers put this API to use so their apps are more flexible across form factors. 

Many people use more than one type of computing device each day. We wake up with our smartphones, use PCs at work, and maybe settle on the couch each evening with a tablet in hand. It's common to start using an app on one device and then look to transition it to another. Microsoft would rather see the device itself fade into the background as people focus on the experience of using the app instead. That's where Project Rome steps in.

Microsoft says Project Rome is the over-arching platform for pushing app content from device to device. It lets developers "create human-centric scenarios that move with the user and blur the lines between their devices regardless of form factor or platform." Project Rome has been in the works for some time, and is finally coalescing in the form of the Remote Systems API. The API lets developers bridge their apps across Windows machines, either connected locally or via the cloud. You can read a detailed blog post about how to use the Remote Systems API here

The first step is allowing devices to see one another. The API allows for discovery via WiFI and Bluetooth locally, or via the cloud if necessary. The RemoteSystemWatcher is what powers this within the Remote Systems API. Filters are available so developers can fine-tune the types of devices that can find one another. With discovery handled, it then falls to actually connecting the two devices. Microsoft is reuprosing the existing RemoteLauncher.LaunchUriAsync API to enable this connection. Together, the two APIs specify the selected device, make the connection, and push the live app from one to the other. In Microsoft's example, a developer makes it possible to listen to music on a mobille phone and push the music app along with the playing song to an XBox or Windows PC.

Microsoft expects Project Rome to help break down barriers across all Windows devices, including PCs, laptops and smartphones, large-screen hubs, HoloLens, wearable devices, IoT, and Xbox. The Remote Systems API, available in Windows 10, is a core function of Project Rome. It exposes apps to the device graph and empowers them with the ability to connect and command. 

There is plenty of documentation to learn more, including an in-depth look at Project Rome and code samples. Visual Studio is required. 

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