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by Andy Wigley
For developers, there is *so* much to like in Windows Phone 7.5 ‘Mango’. It’s packed full of great new features, such as multi-tasking, background file transfers, sockets and database support. And with the release of the new range of Nokia Windows Phone smartphones at Nokia World last month, things are getting really exciting for those of us building software for phones.
My own favourite amongst the new features is the ability to create secondary tiles pinned to the start screen. The Live Tiles on the start screen has always been one of the features that sets Windows Phone apart from other smartphone platforms, but in Windows Phone 7.0 you could only have one tile per app, and when the user tapped on it, it launched the app into the initial page of the app. That was quite nice, and we could update the text, colour and background image of the tile by using Push Notifications from some backend logic running somewhere in the cloud or on our own in-premise server. Good enough for starters.
But in Mango, we can now update the tiles from code running in our app or in a background agent on the phone, making that so much easier to do. Not only that, we can create additional tiles that are ‘deep linked’ to a specific page or experience in our app. So you could have a music app that allows the user of your app to pin tiles that are specifically about their favourite bands, or an airline app can create a tile specifically about an upcoming flight.
And wait… there’s more! In Mango, tiles are no longer flat and one dimensional. Now we can not only update the front of the tile, but the back side also! If you ‘write’ on the back, the phone will flip the tile over every so often.
This ability to manipulate tiles so easily gives developers great new ways of connecting with users of their app and adds fun new ways for users to get information that is relevant to them via the tiles. Couple this with the ability to run code in a background agent every 30 minutes or so where you can make web service calls and pull down updated data that you can use to update the tiles, developers now have great ways of connecting with their users, who can tap on a tile to launch your app straight into the page that shows information that matters to them.
To find out more about Mango app development:
Andy Wigley is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for Windows Phone application development and has been developing software for handheld computers since the earliest days. He’s written a few books on it for Microsoft Press too. He’s a regular speaker at Tech Ed and Tech.Days and is (in)famous for co-delivering the JumpStart video training for Windows Phone with fellow MVP Rob Miles, which involved a lot of giggling about cheese. He is a founder of the mobile application consulting company, APPA Mundi Ltd. A love of rock features strongly in his life, both as a rock climber which has only nearly killed him once, and as a rock musician. You can catch him playing bass with his Black Sabbath/Ozzy covers band at The George and Dragon in Kendal on Saturday 19th November.