Unity is proud to announce the Unity 4 beta program for Windows Phone 8.1 apps. We have been working on Windows Phone 8.1 support for Unity 4 for a long time and it feels great to finally be able to share this technology with the game development community.

The initial beta program has limited capacity, and is only open to experienced Unity developers who have had Unity Windows Phone 8 or Windows Store apps games published. If that sounds like you, you’re very welcome to apply for the Windows Phone 8.1 apps beta program. As a beta participant, you’ll test new technology, report bugs and help us to make it better.

How can my team apply for the beta program ?

To participate in the beta program, please send an email to unityforwindowsphone81@unity3d.com. Include a short introduction to your team and provide links to published games on Windows Store or Windows Phone Store.

Existing participants in the Windows Phone 8 beta program will gain access to Unity 4 Windows Phone 8.1 apps beta builds automatically.

The beta consists of two parts:

  • Participants can discuss issues, ask questions, give feedback to Unity engineers and report bugs via the mailing list. Please note that this can result in significant email traffic.
  • The beta site hosts Windows Phone 8.1 beta builds, info on how to get started and all other relevant information.

We promise to answer your application within 72 hours. Please note that not all applicants will gain access to the beta program at this time.

What’s under the hood ?

Unity 4 Windows Phone 8.1 apps support is almost feature complete, but a lot of bug fixes and polishing are needed. This is our first beta build, so it’s going to take time for us to reach rock solid stability. However, we feel experienced developers can take advantage of this early-stage technology and ship games on Windows Phone 8.1 right now.

At this point we really need feedback from you, the game creators working on real games. By joining our beta testing program, you can help us accelerate development to ensure this is a great product for all Unity users.

In a nutshell, Unity 4 Windows Phone 8.1 apps has the following features:

  • Improved scripting performance: the Unity scripting backend has been heavily optimized. This was possible because we’ve added a new Windows Phone 8.1 SDK.
  • Improved rendering performance: the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK also enabled us to implement efficient multithreaded rendering on mobile devices so all those cores can be put to a good use.
  • Convergence of Windows Store and Windows Phone apps: Windows Phone 8.1 is considered as part of the Windows Store Apps family rather than being an extension to Windows Phone 8. As such, it behaves much more like Windows Store apps behave in Unity :
    • As for Windows Store applications, scripts can now be compiled with the Microsoft C# compiler. This means it’s possible to access phone-specific APIs in scripts. You can still compile scripts with Mono compiler – which compiler you use is up to you.
    • The Building Windows Phone 8.1 project is located under the “Windows Store” platform. To build a Windows Phone 8.1 application, select the “Phone 8.1″ SDK.
    • The UnityEngine.WSA namespace is available for Windows Phone 8.1 games. UnityEngine.WindowsPhone is no longer accessible.
    • Unity exposes a way to build Universal Windows Store/Phone 8.1 applications, through selecting “Universal 8.1″ SDK in the build window. Upon building such a project, Unity creates a Universal Visual Studio project, which can then be built to both Windows and Windows Phone devices.

    Can I publish my games to Windows Phone Store?

    Yes, absolutely. However, Microsoft have yet to announce when Windows Phone 8.1 apps will be accepted on Windows Phone Store. To publish content built with Unity, you will, of course, also need a valid Unity 4 or Unity 5 license.

    When will Windows Phone 8.1 apps support be released?

    Windows Phone 8.1 apps support in Unity 4 will be released this summer. We are working very hard to make that it’s of the highest quality, and we will take the time it takes to polish it. Of course, this does not prevent you from publishing awesome games with our beta builds!

    A word of warning

    Please do not enter this open beta program if the release of your Unity 4 Windows Phone 8.1 product is subject to any time-sensitive dependencies. This Unity Beta product is not fully functional nor does it contain a full commercial set of locked tools. New Unity users should wait to develop in Unity for Windows Phone 8.1 until after the public commercial release or use the existing Unity 4 Windows Phone 8 apps product.

    We appreciate you carefully considering what your expectations are of this beta product and not depending on it for any of your deadlines. We’re really looking forward to taking it to maturity with your help!

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