multitasking

Just as they did with the Xbox 360, Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be the all-in-one entertainment device in your living room. But this time the console is designed around that host of functions from day “One” as opposed to having them patched in later. Of course it will play games (and boy, do they look awesome) but like a smartphone it also does so much more.

Chief among these non-gaming functions is the new live TV integration. During the Xbox One reveal, Microsoft outlined some impressive new ways to watch TV and discover video content through the new Xbox. Seriously, the Xbox One will change how you watch TV – for the better!

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Yesterday we did an extensive run through of Nokia Maps 3.0 on Windows Phone 8, and now the underlying maps platform has been enhanced it has picked up some nice new features. Today we see the arrival of the Beta version of Nokia Drive+

Drive+ picks up some nice additions that we’re sure many existing Nokia Drive users will really appreciate, chief amongst them is the ability to fine tune how you want your journey to be planned and improved multitasking. We take a good look at what's new.

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Live Apps, Microsoft's new marketing language

Yesterday we ran a story with some new marketing material for Best Buy that focused on Windows Phone 8. What caught our attention was the use of the term ‘Live Apps’ and even more so the description on how to view them (swipe up, down, left, right).

The idea as the time was that this might be some new feature—possibly related to multitasking e.g. mimicking how Windows 8 handles multiple apps. The other was that this was just Microsoft’s rebranding of Metro apps to Live Apps (due to that trademark issue).

This morning, we can share a lot more information on this that has come forward. Some good, some disappointing.

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As a follow up to Monday's story regarding Windows Phone Tango and the reported increase in the number of apps for fast-app switching, the story has proven to be false.

What was seen was a custom Tango ROM for an HD2 where the ROM-chef (HD2Owner) had increased the number of apps in the taskswitcher from five to eight -- but alas, in the official Tango ROM this is not the case and five, sadly is still the limit. From XDA:

"more tasks in taskswitcher is not a tango feature

it's just another useful tweak i implemented into my rom"

Certainly this explains why Microsoft did not convey this information earlier but at least on the bright side, it's one thing to be less excited about regarding Tango.

via: Windows Phone Daily

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Please see the latest update to this story: http://www.windowscentral.com/follow-windows-phone-tango-does-not-increase-multitasking-app-limit-eight

Now that the Tango ROM has been leaked onto XDA, those members are going over it with fine comb to find every little change. Guess what? There are more improvements then we knew about in Tango, making us want it even more.

For instance, we know that even devices with 256MB of RAM will have app-switching via the Back button (see our last podcast). But going further, instead of just the last five previous apps being held in memory, we now can have eight apps stored in memory which is sure to make everyone happy. While just adding three more apps does not seem a lot, in practice we imagine such an addition will be very practical for everyday use.

Other additions noted are increased memory efficiency with just 122MB of RAM being used in the 8773 build versus the current 153MB in 8107 found on most devices today. Finally, MMS delivery confirmation/acknowledgement is there as well. While that last part seems kind of "meh", we know from experience that sending MMS is hit or miss depending on your network, so having a confirmation can actually be a good thing here.

Source: XDA Forums; via Windows Phone Daily

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Microsoft's Executive Communications Manager on Windows Phone, Derek Snyder, managed to show off and answer some questions about multi-tasking on the upcoming OS update. As a result, we can see it in action here, how selection and management works and basically how smooth the whole process is.

We'd say more, but honestly the vid shows enough. It does get pretty geeky in spots, but that's a good thing, we think.

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While there is still no sign of the feature to allow global screenshots to be taken on your WP7 device, Smartphone France has posted a sneak peek at a solution (for those with registered/unlocked devices) that doesn't require the emulator to be used.

Using the Windows Phone Device Manager, developed by Julian Schapman, in conjunction with his app 'TouchXperience' one is reportedly presented with the ability to take screenshots on their device. Requiring the form of multitasking, this is a fantastic feature to bring to the homebrew table. The guys at Smartphone France proved their word by taking a bunch of screenshots on their LG Optimus 7 (some posted above).

Currently the Windows Phone Device Manager and TouchXperience for WP7 are both in active development and closed beta testing (only donators are eligible for enrolment). We will keep an eye on the development of the tools and apps, along with the features made available to users and keep you in the loop.

Source: Smartphone France

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More concept designs for WP7

Adrian Manteuffel has created some concept designs that cover multitasking on the platform as well as further customization of Metro UI, which includes altering tile transparency, changing themes (beyond what's currently available) and applying wallpapers to the home screen.

The above concept shows multitasking added in on the right-hand side of the home screen, which is probably not a bad idea (if you don't mind losing more 'negative space' which the UI is famed for), but I don't see it working with a large number of apps open at once - I don't think a scrollable list on the side of the tiles is a good idea.

For the email tile that now takes up two positions, I don't like at all. I'm a heavy email user (compared to SMS anyway) and I prefer to have a minimal amount of tiles present. Unless that email tile can flip through the email accounts every few seconds then I don't see that being adopted by many.

See the other two designs after the break.

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We talked extensively about the upcoming multitasking feature in Windows Phone 7 both in this post and in the podcast, but see it for yourself in this demo video from the Ballmer keynote speech here in Barcelona.

For us, we're quite happy with the implementation as it offers both speed, convenience and preservers battery life. We look forward to see how the code evolves as the update nears completion.

via: 1800PocketPC

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The Microsoft keynote at Mobile World Congress definitely didn’t disappoint those of us that have been hungry for more details on the direction of our platform of choice.

One of the main things that Windows Phone 7 has gotten knocked for is the lack of multitasking for third party applications. The big news of the day is that Microsoft has committed to deliver multitasking support for Windows Phone 7 during the 2011 calendar year.

During the keynote, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore demonstrated how multitasking would work. Part of the multitasking interface is seamless. If you navigate away from an application and come back, the application will not only pick up where it left off, but it will do it quickly and efficiently. Belfiore also demonstrated an early view of the task switcher for Windows Phone. Pressing and holding the back button launches the UI (which looks like a poor man’s version of the WebOS card-based interface). We did not see a demo of killing apps.

One of the best things about multitasking for a lot of people is what this means for third-party music apps like Last.fm or Slacker Radio. During the demo we saw Slacker Radio playing in the background while reading email and otherwise using the phone in a normal manner. Additionally, it appears that third-party music apps can be controlled using the playback controls which appear at the top of the screen when the volume buttons are pressed.

All-in-all, this looks to be a big year for Windows Phone 7. Any thoughts on multitasking for Windows Phone? Is this a key feature for you? Talk it up in the comments section!

Update: Hi all, Dieter Bohn here. Tim has broken it down pretty darn well above based on what Microsoft presented today. On top that that, we have a few more details on how multitasking will work on Windows Phone 7 - join us after the break!

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While we knew that copy and paste is coming to Windows Phone in the first half of 2011, no other specific time frame was given although there is a rumor of a January update, which now seems to be accurate. Arpan Shah, a Director at Microsoft who leads Product Management for Microsoft Project, mentioned in passing about when we can expect that update:

Critics have commented on the lack of specific features like copy & paste and lack of 100s of thousands of applications. And while both are true, copy & paste will be available as an update in a matter of weeks (early 2011) and as for applications, it’s just a matter of time.

While not written and stone and we're sure Microsoft would not want to publicly commit to such a timetable, we believe that this is probably quite accurate. If so, we can finally stop hearing about the lack of said feature as a knock against an otherwise fantastic v1.0 release. The rest of that January update is rumored to bring task-manager/hub mutlti-tasking, turn-by-turn directions, clipboard and Skydrive/OWA support.

Source: Arpan Shah's Blog

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Updated: Say it ain't so! Looks like Network World got the quote wrong as Michael Scherotter ask them to make a correction noting: "Great article but with a slight correction; built-in software like Zune can play music in the background. Pandora cannot at this time."

The issue of multitasking in Windows Phone 7 has been nearly beaten to death but there is light at the end of the tunnel. One app that is frequently held up as an example of why multitasking is needed is Pandora--the music streaming app that chooses songs based on your likes/dislikes. Not being able to run Pandora in the background seems painful, as anyone who used an iPhone (pre-iOS 4) could attest.

Well, it looks like those fears may be unfounded. According to Network World, at the Sprint Developer Conference held Tuesday, Microsoft’s Michael Scherotter mentioned that Pandrora is an exception. More importantly that multitasking is coming to Windows Phone 7, just no firm date;

Scherotter said while a few major apps will be able to multitask, such as Pandora, the music streaming app that will play in the background while the user is doing something else, independent apps will not, for now. Scherotter said that eventually, independent apps will be multitask-capable, but he wouldn't say when that would be.

Good news for Pandora (presumably soon to be available in the Marketplace) and we're confident Microsoft will deliver on the multitasking front, once they design an elegant method to do so. Does this make anyone feel a bit better about their potential future investment in the OS?

Source: Network World

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In an interesting twist, it seems that at least for some types of programs written for Windows Phone 7, multitasking or rather, the simulation of multitasking is completely possible.

Over at clr-namespace.com, the author whipped up a stopwatch application which you can start, then "minimize" then return to the app and it appears to have be running the whole time.

Of course in reality, it's not. It's "tombstoning" the application, which is a process by which

...the operating system maintains state information about the application. If the user navigates back to the application, the operating system restarts the application process and passes the state data back to the application, where the user will be able to continue seamlessly from his last interaction point with the application

In this case, the stopwatch does pause, but when restarted it counts back up from the original start time, giving the illusion that it has been "counting" while paused. This all happens without the user even knowing, making it a bit of a kludge, but a good one for this application.

How can this be applied to other programs? We're not really sure but it goes to show with some ingenuity, programmers can get around some of these "limitations".

[clr-namespace via Silverlight Show.net]

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Spent the afternoon checking out the iPhone 4.0 announcement at TiBP.com, and a few upgrades have been, erm, "borrowed" from Windows Phone 7, it appears. Basically, the iPhone's new multitasking works in much the same way, saving an app's state before hopping out of it and into another one. Hardly revolutionary, Apple.

One thing we are a little jealous of, however, is the ability to sync with multiple Exchange accounts. That's something Windows Mobile never managed to so, and Palm finally managed to do it with the Pre. So there's one with have to give to Cupertino. There's also improved enterprise (read: business) support. We'd expect Microsoft to be on the forefront of that, too, with Windows Phone 7, given that depth of Exchange in business. So, no biggie there.

All in all, an interesting show, but nothing to make us really worry about Windows Phone 7 being dead before it gets off the ground.

Update: Oh, and how did we forget this: Folders?!?!? Really, Apple? That's so Windows Mobile 5. And "intelligent naming"? What does that even mean?

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And now, the WMExperts players present "Juiced: Powering the iPhone in a 3.0 World."

Join us after the break for a very special WMExperts post as our little iPhone cousin dives into the deep, dark world of multitasking and background notifications. Will he thrive alongside his Windows Mobile brethren? Will he survive? In the end, there can only be one.

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