New Features of Microsoft Power Apps: Latest Updates

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Latest Power Apps Updates

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the demand for these 5 vowels is higher than ever in business applications: Artificial Intelligence, Efficiency, Intuitiveness, Operability and User-friendliness. Microsoft Power Platform is one such platform which is well-known to deliver on all 5 of these fronts through its versatile collection of products named PowerApps, Power BI, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents and the recently introduced Power Pages which were first introduced back in October 2019.

Power Apps was launched with the intent of empowering users to effortlessly create and use their own applications without getting tangled in complex code. These apps can seamlessly connect with various data sources and services, making things super flexible. At its core, Power Apps eliminates the necessity for intricate coding, propelling users to forge robust, tailor-made applications with remarkable ease.

With a commitment to constant innovation, Power Apps has rolled out an array of new features and updates aimed at enhancing user experiences across the board. In this article, we’ll delve into all the new features of Microsoft Power Apps, basically the latest updates that are transforming the app development landscape.

Increasing Productivity

1. Efficient and Simplified App Development

1.Virtual Tables in Maker Portal : This feature enables makers to create virtual tables with data from external sources such as SharePoint, Dynamics, Azure SQL, etc. enhancing data integration without needing to migrate or clone data. This facilitates relationship building and data utilization within model-driven apps directly using the structure of the external data source.

2. Responsive Page Building : The new drag-and-drop responsive layout containers enable easy design of apps for multiple form factors, eliminating the need for separate app versions.

2. Streamlined Maker Experiences

1.Updated Power Apps Home Page : This new update will benefit makers with improved navigation, consistent design, performance upgrades, and an updated apps list.

2. SQL Queries within Studio : Database administrators and developers will now have alternate means of working with data, allowing them to explore Dataverse tables using both standard and complex SQL queries.

3. Enhancement in Power FX Formulas: Power FX now supports user-defined functions, making it possible to break complex formulas into smaller components for easier comprehension, reuse, and faster development.

4. CICD Pipeline Testing : Quality Assurance Testing of Power Apps using the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CICD) pipelines model enhances support from the Test Engine, allowing makers to seamlessly integrate test automation into their app development process using Azure DevOps tasks, Power Platform CLI, or GitHub Actions. This ensures better app quality, catching issues in early development stages, thereby streamlining the app release process.

5. Express Design in Figma: This feature “Express design” enables developers and designers to come together to quickly convert artifacts such as Figma files, whiteboard sketches, and paper forms into functional apps using Figma’s design capabilities.

6. Co-authoring in Modern App Designer : Imagine a scenario where a team of developers alongside business domain experts, needs to revisit\refine an app. With co-authoring, they can concurrently make changes on the same app and see the results in real-time, much like how groups of teams and individuals can edit a shared document in Microsoft OneNote or collaborate on a Google Docs file.

Improved User Experience

1. Modern UI Layout and Controls

a. Updated Canvas App Controls : Power Apps now features an updated user interface, which is an opt-in feature. It offers appealing styling options such as fonts, shadows, borders, colors, and more, Fluent-based designs, and themes, aligning seamlessly with the Microsoft Fluent Design System.

b. Power Virtual Agents Integration: Makers can now enhance the conversational experience of users within their apps by seamlessly integrating the new Power Virtual Agent bot using chatbot controls and the improved GPT-powered Power Virtual Agent control.

c. Improved Advanced Find : The Advanced lookup option empowers users with enhanced search capabilities such as filtering data based on specific records, viewing more fields per record, searching within a specific view, and easily adding or editing conditions on lookup columns in the Edit Filters pane. Admins also have the flexibility to disable this feature.

d. Embedded Power BI Reports : Power BI quick report visualization is now readily accessible on all grid pages within Power Apps as the default setting. Nevertheless, administrators retain the flexibility to deactivate this feature on a per-app basis. This enhancement streamlines report creation, fostering increased user productivity and facilitating more accessible data exploration.

2. Collaboration and Interaction

1. Enhanced Sharing and Co-presence : User Experience (UX) is improved with record owners having the ability to effortlessly share records by simply adjusting the link settings, reducing the number of clicks required. Additionally, they have the option to revoke access when necessary.

2. Android Device Sharing : Frontline workers can share Android devices by signing into and out of their Power Apps and other Microsoft products with the help of Microsoft’s Shared Device Mode, enhancing accessibility, security, and productivity. After completing the task, they can sign out once and will be signed out from all supported apps immediately.

3. AI-Powered Assistance

Copilot for Makers and Users : AI-driven Copilot assists Model-driven app users with app-related queries. They can transform any business app into an intelligent one. Users can also create AI-generated app descriptions in Power App Studio or in the App Settings panel. Additionally, it streamlines deployment with AI-generated solution overviews, reducing the need for manual intervention.

Enabling Enterprise Scale

1. Robust Customizations

a. Developer Environments for New Makers : The Environment routing feature enables admins to direct new makers to dedicate developer environments, promoting isolated development.

b. SQL Server Stored Procedure Calls : Power Apps can directly call SQL Server stored procedures, improving performance and accessibility. People can now directly use certain functions in Microsoft Dataverse, which is a database, without any extra hassle. And they can make things even simpler by adding an ‘Environment’ object to their data sources, making it easier to connect and use their data.

c. Customization Solution Context : Makers can select unmanaged solutions as the active context, can change the settings or solution list, will be empowered to set rules for solution names and publisher preferences, thus aiding in customizations and application lifecycle management (ALM), with this new active solution context feature.

2. Debugging and Monitoring

a. Monitor Tool Enhancements : The Monitor tool in Power Apps Studio will be more user-friendly due to some recent changes such as moving it to a more easily accessible location, cleaning duplicate data for better clarity, and putting clear guidelines to ensure relevancy of the data sent to the Monitor. Additionally, the user interface has been revamped with new features such as sorting, highlighting, filtering, and searching for easy navigation.

b. Named Formula Browsing : Enhanced UX for named formulas facilitates makers in finding a list of named formulas that is integrated into the Variables & Collections in one place. They can also change or edit a formula by simply selecting it from the list and this also allows makers to see where each formula is used in their app. All this will help them create better app design and logic implementation.

Power Apps is an ever-evolving platform that constantly introduces new updates and features to help you stay up-to-date and make the most of its capabilities. These updates, whether in public preview or generally available, are raising the bar for app development and setting new standards. With these changes, it’s now easier and more exciting than ever before to create apps that stand out, regardless of your level of experience. You can confidently take your app development skills to the next level and build impressive apps that shine. So, prepare to explore the amazing new features and unleash your full app development potential with Power Apps!

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