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Posts Tagged ‘live tile’

WP7applist app reviews

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

I love getting users feedback on my projects, and this tends to be pretty easy on mobile apps.

It’s nice and rewarding to read comments such as “best marketplace app so far”, “awesome app, much better organized than marketplace”, “thanks guys for rekindling my interest in WP7apps” (!), and it’s invalueable to find out that for some “the live tile does not update”, “the live tile is broken, never changes”, “fix the live updates for a better rating”. Yes, I can see a trend there, in fact I have a fix ready in the next update (currently under testing at Microsoft).

One thing I really love is when people take the time to write an in-depth review, exploring all of the possibilities and – in case of mobile apps – take a short clip of the app in action for a video review. There were some awesome people doing that for WP7applist, and I’d like to say THANKS to each one of them. So here are some reviews I could find so far:

Add a Live Tile to your app in 3 minutes

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

As a follow up to my latest blog post, I want to show how easy it is to have a working Live Tile for your app. Here it is in brief:

  1. 1- create a static image or a webservice returning one (optimal size is 173×173 px), have it available on the web
  2. 2- include the following code snippet in your Application_Launching method
    new ShellTileSchedule
    {
    RemoteImageUri = new Uri(@"http://yourwebsite.com/pathtoimageorwebservice"),
    Recurrence = UpdateRecurrence.Interval,
    Interval = UpdateInterval.EveryHour,
    MaxUpdateCount = 0,
    StartTime = DateTime.Now
    }.Start();
    
  3. 3- there’s no 3. Now how hard was that?

ShellTileSchedule is the easiest way to have your Live Tile up and running in no time. So where’s the catch you may ask? Well, I’d love to say there aren’t but that wouldn’t be true: here are a few points to pay attention to.

#1 the first tile update won’t happen until the specified time interval has passed, and ’1 hour’ is the shortest interval you can use. This doesn’t help with testing / fine tuning your Tile.

#2 the Windows Phone dev team itself suggests to put the code above in Application_launching, and this makes perfect sense on the first run of your app. One issue is that subsequent calls to the same method will re-schedule the update for 1 hour later. In this scenario, if your app is opened twice in 1 hour, the Tile update won’t happen.

#3 there’s no way to tell if the scheduler is active or if it has been deactivated (it happens without notice if it fails to download the pic 3 times). If there was, #2 wouldn’t be an issue.

What to do? Personally I’d just live with it, as the ‘Mango‘ update is supposed to give better and more stable tools to handle Live Tiles from a developer point of view.

One way to make #2 a smaller problem would be – for example – to run the initialization code just once every day, so that launching the app won’t re-schedule the update. In the event that it gets deactivated it would be fixed the next day.
But if you’re a perfectionist and got a lot of time in your hands, check out this blog post by Silverlight MVP Mark Monster, who provides a better (but more time consuming) solution to most of these issues.

The importance of being a Live-Tile

POSTED BY Luigi Violin ON

If you were asked 3 things you like the most about Windows Phone 7, what would you say? My answer would be: “in no particular order, the revolutionary Start Screen UI/UX, the Marketplace and Live Tiles“.

I’d like to spend a few words about the last one. If you’re a WP7 user I don’t really need to tell you how howesome Live Tiles are. Developers of all platforms always strive to let you complete a task in the fewest number of clicks (or touches) possible: 3, 2, 1.. How about ZERO? That’s what Live Tiles are for.

Whatever an app does, chances are 99% of the times you’re interested in a piece of information that can perfectly fit in a small icon, and I strongly believe that developers must take advantage of that. How many times did you have to choose between a few similar apps and picked up the one that included a Live Tile? I always do. How many times you didn’t care about an app including a Live Tile or not? I rarely ever did.

I hardly believe that it’s just me, also based on the fact that one of the most common suggestions I get for WP7applist, is to highlight apps that include a Live Tile. So here’s a call to all Windows Phone 7 develoepers: when your new app is 100% done.. don’t ship it just yet. Ask yourself what feature you use the most, how you could present it in a small icon, and make a Live Tile out of it. Trust me, this will greatly help your app’s sales, and also make the majority of your customers happy. :)