Shawn Wildermuth

Author, Teacher, and Filmmaker
.NET Foundation Board Member

Stories

Tagged with Windows Phone


The Other Windows Phone 8.1 Features

cortanaA lot of blogs have been showing off and talking about new Windows Phone 8.1 features that are the big picture features I love like Cortana, Action Center and even the new Calendar views.

Well, I have the new build and I have to say I’m loving it too. These features are great, but I’ve noticed a bunch of smaller features that I also adore. Let’s talk about these smaller, but very cool features:

My phone ends up being one of my main news source. I wake up to my GooNews app as well as the Bing News app (now just called News). Because of this, I end up in the browser reading quite a few articles. On Windows Phone 8, the reading experience was annoying if the website didn’t make sure the site was responsive. Most notably sports news websites seem prone to this (I’m a baseball fan).

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My First Week With Nokia Lumia 1020

imageA week ago I splurged and upgraded my Lumia 920 to the Lumia 1020. So to those of you who were expecting me to switch over the Android or an iDevice; I'm still entrenched in the Windows Phone world. And this phone cements my opinion to stay.  Let's talk about the good and the bad.

I like the weight. I was worried that with the camera bulge that this would feel like a much bigger device but if anything it feels smaller than the 920. I haven't looked up the weight but it feels really nice. I actually find the camera bulge useful as a pivot point to hold the phone.

As no one should be surprised, the camera is that good on the new phone. It's an amazing experience. But you might wonder why you would need 41 megapixels (ok, 38 megapixels since the lens is round)? You don't actually…

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750 Windows Phone Apps?

1020Today I picked up a Lumia 1020. I am impressed with the camera as you'd expect but I am also loving the size. It's about the same size as the 920 except for the extra camera bump. It feels lighter than I expected. The AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass 3 looks great too.

While I was setting up the new phone, I headed over to Windows Phone's website to install my apps. The website has a feature called "purchase history" that allows you to look at what apps you've purchased and re-install them on your phone with a single click. What is interesting is that it seems I've installed over 750 apps over the time I've had with Windows phone. Yeah…750. I was surprised too.

The list includes trial apps, apps that are no longer available, duplicate entries for apps with full and trial versions, and a handful that were never certified for Windows Phone 8. So realistically there were probably over 400 apps I could have installed from my prior I used this tool to reinstall the apps I wanted (and no, I didn't install them all ;) After chatting on Twitter, I was asked if I would list my favorite 50 apps. Instead of that I am going to list all the apps I actually used (as of today) in no particular order (with description if necessary):

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Clarifying Windows Phone 8 HTML5 Apps

If you made it to build or spent much time watching the videos one of the stories many heard from Microsoft revolved about creating HTML5/JS applications for the Windows Phone 8. Unfortunately the story confused a lot of people (at least by the questions I've been getting lately.

Let me be clear...you *can* create HTML5/JS/CSS applications for Windows Phone 8. Yup. In fact, you could do it with Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. This is how PhoneGap works. The XAML page simply hosts a WebBrowser control and loads all of the assets locally in the XAP. What you can't do is create WinJS application. Let's step back a little and explain that better.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 were both highly publicized releases this last week. One of the things that is not all that obvious to the casual observer is that the biggest change to Windows Phone 8 is that the underlying operating system now uses the same core as Windows RT (e.g. Windows 8 for ARM). In fact, the new phone SDK supports DirectX, C++ and creating WinRT components.  All very cool.

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Why Am I Excited about Windows Phone 8 SDK?

event_wp8_heroToday Microsoft is finally releasing the new Windows Phone 8 SDK. As I've been updating my Windows Phone book for this new incarnation of the device, I am excited that the SDK is finally going to be available for public consumption.

Even though the new phone has completely changed the underlying operation system to use the same WinRT sub-system that powers Windows 8, the basics of how to build apps on the phone is primarily the same. This means if you have experience building XAML-based projects, you should be right at home with Windows Phone 8.

A lot has been talked about the new Operating System and it's new tile layout and other features. But what I want to explain are the new developer features that I am excited about (in no specific order):

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Windows Phone 8 - What do I think?

7612.StartScreen_Maria35_thumb_7EFE7E6BSo the Windows Phone event is over and I’ve had time to digest it somewhat and read between the lines. At the time (for those who read my twitter feed), I was quite reactionary and upset at much of the news. Most of this what as a user of a Windows Phone, not as a developer of a Windows Phone. Do note that another caveat is that I am an author of a Windows Phone 7.5 book, and the thought of my book being suddenly obsolete was upsetting as well (but that happens every time one of my books passes the new car smell line). So let me talk briefly about what I think about the news from both a user and a developer on the Windows Phone platform.

The big news for most users is the fact that Windows Phone 8 won’t work on current hardware. To me this is short-sighted as it seems to punish the only fans the platform has so far. This was especially relevant since I *just* received my Nokia 900 (after having a HTC HD7 for the last 15 months). The idea that this new piece of hardware was going to be out of date in only 4-6 months upset me. But let’s think about it in broader strokes that just me. Is this a good strategy overall?

Windows Phone 7.x has a small market share right now. That’s a fact that no one who cares about the phone likes to think about. So the number of users who will be affected by the easier path of not building support for older phones is still small. When I look at the Android ecosystem of users, the core geeks care about 2.2/2.3/ICS but most day-to-day users don’t. They care about features but they don’t seem to even know what version they have. That doesn’t make the decision a nice one, but it’s one that I think the phone can stomach…especially if Windows Phone 8 can actually penetrate the two behemoths of iPhone/Android market share. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

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Move Your WP7 Apps Links to the Marketplace

UPDATED: Changed links to be universal, not US specific.

 

Recently @WieserSoftware mentioned to me (on Twitter) that my Windows Phone 7 App page was using the old, outdated Zune links. I made the change last night and wanted to explain how to do it in case anyone is confused.

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Does Silverlight Matter to Windows Phone 8?

right-HERO_MANGO_062411A lot has been made since a report from Microsoft late last week (http://shawnw.me/HPEh0R) that seemed to say that Silverlight on the phone was going away in Windows Phone 8 (Apollo). I liked a lot of what this article had to say (from e-week):

http://shawnw.me/IwMgR2

So it got me thinking that much of the Silverlight community would be jumping out of windows (lower case and not TM) this week due to the news. But of course, if that's the case for you, I'd urge you not to panic. Why? Let me tell you.

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Top 10 Mango Features Article

My new article in DevProConnections Magazine is now live. If you want to see the top ten features of Windows Phone 7.5 (according to me), go see the article now!

If you have any comments, let me know!

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Essential Windows Phone 7.5 Ships

A long labor of love of mine has finally been birthed. My Essential Windows Phone 7.5 book is now available for Kindle. You can also pre-order the physical book from Amazon or directly from Pearson. While I’ve been assured that the book is printed, sometimes it can take some time to make it into the retail chain for different outlets. To clear up some of this confusion I thought it would be helpful to tell you how you can get the book depending on which retailer you go with:

Because the book is done printing, some of the retailers that are selling the physical book may ship early so if you want the physical book, pre-ordering is still the best option. If you want to get a hold of it now, Kindle is the way to go.

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40,000 Apps - What Does It Mean?

WP7MarketplaceSo the Windows Phone Marketplace hit 40K apps. What does it mean to the platform? There are a number of articles out there that talk about the 40,000 apps and compares them to other platforms but I think they are missing a key differentiator.

Articles like the PC Magazine article point to the fact that Apple got to 50K in one year (faster than Microsoft) and that it took Android in 18 months (a tad slower than Microsoft). But to me the real remarkable news of this milestone isn’t the speed…it’s the size of the marketplace for that is astounding in my opinion.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to Garner, the 2011 Q3 numbers indicate that the worldwide market share for smartphones is (see Table of the report):

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What Win8 Should Learn from Windows Phone

windows8As many of my readers know, I’ve been neck deep in the Windows Phone. More recently, I’ve been digging into Windows 8 development as well. On my most recent trip, I spent quite a bit of time with the BUILD tablet. Good news is that it’s a pretty good piece of hardware. Even though it’s not ARM, I am still getting a good four hours of battery life. This version of Windows 8 is early but I do think there are some things that Windows 8 should learn from what they’ve done with the Windows Phone. Here is a short list of what I think the team should look at on the phone:

In-App Back Button

On the phone, the back button represents a major way to navigate in an application. In Windows 8, you can swipe back but that doesn’t take you back to the last page in an application, it takes you to the last Metro-style app. I know you can swipe up to show the ‘ApplicationBar’ and it can have a back button, but I think this is a mistake. The phone learned that users want a single back button that works everywhere…it’s more intuitive.

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Confusion Around WP7.1 Periodic Agents

IMG_0088After my recent post on Periodic Agents, I had a number of people react to specific parts of the API. Let’s discuss each of these separately.

Periodic Agents’ 14-day Lifespan

It seems that developers are confused about the role periodic agents have with their apps. The short version of the story is that periodic agents are supposed to support your app, not replace it. To this end a periodic agent must be re-registered at least every fourteen days. Typically this is accomplished by re-registering your app on every startup.

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Periodic Agents on Windows Phone 7.1

One major feature that was much requested for the new version of Windows Phone was the ability to run agents behind the scenes. The desire was to be able to execute code periodically so that a developer’s application could keep itself up to date (or tell the user about a change) when the application was not running. Microsoft has allowed this in Mango (e.g. Windows Phone OS 7.1) and allows several different flavors of agents:

For this post, I will focus on the Periodic Agents. Periodic agents run every 30 minutes but with some limitations:

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More on Updating Apps for Mango

In my previous post, I encouraged users to upgrade their applications to the newest version of the Windows Phone so that users that get Windows Phone 7.5 (or developers who already have it) can benefit from a newer version of your application. While I readily admit, some of that post is pure selfishness as I want apps to be ready for Mango (and on my phone ;) But there are some things to consider.

If you haven’t noticed, the Windows Phone Marketplace now has 30,000 applications. Yeah, 30K. That’s a lot of applications. While some of my favorite apps do update themselves fairly often, many of the 30K applications do not. Why does this matter?

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Windows Phone 7.1 SDK is Alarming

alarmsURL: MangoAlarms.zip

Ok, maybe I like my distracting titles…my apologies.

As many Windows Phone developers have noticed, Mango (e.g Windows Phone SDK 7.1) supports background processing through something called Agents. While Agents are certainly a welcome addition, I am exceptionally impressed in the fact that Mango also supports a bunch of features to avoid having to have background processing agents. In this post, I’ll show you one of these: Alarms.

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Fun With New Live Tile API

livetile

In Windows Phone OS 7.0, you could update your Live Tiles (but not create them) – but you had to do it via a push notification. In Windows Phone OS 7.1, this changes to allow you to not only update the Live Tile for your application, but your application can create multiple Live Tiles.

The ShellTile class gives you access to all the Live Tiles for your application. Before you ever create a single tile, you always have one tile. This tile is the default tile that your application will show if the user manually pins an application to the home screen. You can add additional Live Tiles manually. Each of these additional tiles are specifically to link deeply into your application. For example, if I had an airline application, I could have additional tiles that linked directly to individual flights. Let’s get started.

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Maintaining a Project with Two Windows Phone Versions

I am currently reading the Mango (Windows Phone OS 7.1) version of my Phoney Tools project. But I have a particular problem: I need to maintain both a 7.0 and a 7.1 version of the project builds. You might have the same issue with your own project so I thought it’d be a good way to show off some special features that Visual Studio has to help you solve these sorts of situations. Essentially my goal was to maintain one set of code but build both sets from the same source.

First off, I took my original project and created two solution folders and created the 7.1 projects as shown here:

image

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Should You Upgrade Your WP7 App to Mango?

Yes.

Ok, maybe I can’t leave it at that. As Windows Phone 7 users upgrade to Mango, they probably want a Mango (e.g. Windows Phone OS 7.1) version of your application. Don’t disappoint them. This doesn’t mean you should completely retool your application for Mango.  But if I am suggesting that you don’t spend a lot of time on the new app, then why create one to begin with? Fast Task Switching.

Fast Task Switching

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What Version is Windows Phone Mango?

In finishing up my new Windows Phone book, I had to deal with the confusing version problem. There are three version numbers to be aware of:

So what is Mango? It comes down to this:

So get your nomenclature right and stop being confused.

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Atlanta Code Camp - I'll Be There

Url: http://www.atlantacodecamp.org/default.aspx

Atlanta Code Camp

Atlanta Code Camp is almost here.  It will be a fun time to learn and co-mingle with Atlanta's development community. If you're not familiar with code camps, i'll quote the website:

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Where Did I Go?

Silverlight

I was asked at a recent Silverlight Meetup what happened to me?  He was concerned that I was sick or something worse so I thought it was worth a post.

I've been quiet on my blog (but not on Twitter) lately as I've been travelling a lot and working too hard. I am working on several important projects (not all of which I can share).  The ones that you can know about are:

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Phoney Tools 1.0 Released!

Url: http://phoney.codeplex.com/

PhoneyTools on CodePlex

UPDATE: Last update (hopefully for a bit), found another issue and now that NuGet is up, the new package is ther for 1.0.3.

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How Copy/Paste Works on WP7-Nodo

Url: http://shawnw.me/fT1Y5v

Windows Phone 7

I was playing with my newly updated Windows Phone 7 (with the March 2011 - or so called NoDo update). While I can attest I can sense the speed increase, especially in games and in tombstoning of applications; the big feature is copy and paste on the phone.

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Phoney Tools v0.7 Released

Url: http://phoney.codeplex.com

Phoney Logo

We're marching towards MIX11 and the Phoney Tools will be ready. The new version is now available that includes a couple of new features and a few bug fixes.  The changes include:

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