Microsoft has been working extensively on detailing new features to Windows 8.1. It has added several new and innovative APIs to its upcoming operating system. Windows 8 provided support for various device scenarios, starting from printing, sensors to geolocations. But these were available only to the dedicated device apps and provided limited access to the arbitrary devices. However, this limitation was changed in Windows 8.1 Preview as support for APIs such as Point of Sale (POS), 3D printing and scanning are included in the new platform release. This way 8.1 extends support for a wider range of devices as compared to the previous version of the Windows.
Device protocol APIs, which are new to Windows 8.1, will allow apps over the Windows App Store to “talk” to a device over industry standard protocols like the USB, HID, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart and Wi-fi Direct. “Talking” to a device means communication of any Windows app with a device, and these device protocol APIs will help the developers to create custom apps for controlling a device without the need for any custom drivers.
For a developer, the first thing would be to identify the device and then open a communication channel to the device. This would prompt for user content to help prevent apps from accidentally or maliciously communicate with one or more devices without the user’s awareness.
After access is granted to the communication channel, the app can communicate with the device which may include transfer of data and even continuing it when the user switches between apps.
Not only this, access to devices will also enable small-time developers to come with their own software to communicate with non-standard devices.
Thus, with this feature users can easily integrate standard devices like printer, scanner etc. or can even integrate custom devices into the apps. The inclusion of this feature, i.e., providing support for communication of apps with devices in the Windows 8.1 Preview provides the users a faster and easier way of interacting with their devices.