notifications

The official IMSA app for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 recently joined us, and the good news is that it's largely a great app. The experience within is everything a fan of sports car racing could want, save for one small bug. I call it a bug because I have to hope that's what it is. While the most recent race was happening this past weekend, every 60 seconds or so the app would push out a notifcation.

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How to set up custom alerts in Windows Phone 8.1

We’ve enjoyed the ability to set custom alerts with our Windows Phone contacts for a while now and with Windows Phone 8.1, we know have the ability to extend this customization to our app notification alerts.

While custom alerts for our contacts may be old hat for some, for those new to the Windows Phone platform all you need to do is go into your contacts and choose the edit button. You will see two options to set a custom ringtone and text tone just below their name. Customizing an alert sound for an app is just as simple.

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Back in December, a really poor (but accurate) photo of the Windows Phone 8.1 notification settings screen was revealed on Twitter by a Salman M. At the time, we confirmed internally that it was real, though possible older.

Now, a clearer mockup of that photo has been posted by the site WinSource. We say ‘mockup’ because it is technically not a real photo of the OS in action. Rather, it’s a re-creation of that photo and what it conveys. Having said that, what is shown in truly based off of Windows Phone 8.1.

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Nokia's next update, titled "Lumia Black" (Bittersweet Shimmer) is set to bring yet more features to the table. If you're a fan of the Glance screen, this will be an update for you. Destined to ship in the coming weeks, Lumia Black will improve the Glance feature, a screen that becomes active when the Windows Phone is in standby mode. The improvements will include background support, more colours and support for more notifications.

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It’s not exactly a secret that Nokia’s forthcoming ‘Bittersweet shimmer’ firmware update, which will coincide with the GDR3 OS release, will sport Glance screen notifications. Indeed, we speculated as much before it was confirmed two days later in the famous leak of the new Lumia build.

Interestingly, Microsoft Norway just posted this above photo to their Instagram account and if you look closely, you’ll see a few notifications awaiting the owner of that Lumia 925.  Of course the rest of the image is actually highlighting the Surface 2, Xbox controller and Halo Spartan Assault, but that’s still a neat confirmation of this new feature.

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Last week Nokia moved Glance out into the open in Settings, which we covered in detail. The update was to make discoverability of Nokia’s many custom settings that much easier but alas, there was a prescient sign of things to come with the change: a new toggle for Notifications on Glance.

We speculated at the time Nokia was going to be adding Notifications to the Glance screen, enabling email and SMS visual alerts. Not a day later did we see the GDR3 and Nokia Bittersweet shimmer leak in our forums confirming our assumption.

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Recent updates by Nokia may reveal forthcoming additions to expand Lumia functionality for users

Nokia has been churning out quite a few updates lately for its Lumia Windows Phones, especially for those with the Amber update. The last few system app changes, notably Extras + Info yesterday and Display + Touch for today, simply moved those settings into their own categories.

While that is seen as a fix for discoverability, there are few other deviations that have been noticed as well that may be a sign of things to come.

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Nokia isn’t quite done with their Music service app just yet as today, version 3.11.25.0 has gone live in the Store. Exclusively for Nokia’s Lumia line, the new update brings along with it a handful of major improvements to make us take another look at the service.

The first major change is Nokia Music now supports the ability to ‘like’ specific artists in your library to “further personalize your music experience”. Nokia Music will also 'like' artists based on your playing history and the contents of your music library, which truly is the killer feature many of us have been waiting for. After all, what’s the use of just streaming music with no feedback system? Sure it’s nice, it’s just not compelling.

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The Windows Phone 8 Facebook Beta app was updated late last night and so far, it has been very well received by the user base. The update brings a lot of new features that consumers have been longing for and reinforces Microsoft’s commitment in making the Facebook app top notch on Windows Phone.

There are still at least two major issues though: there is no Windows Phone 7.x version, though it was promised back in May and Facebook users are having widespread problems with receiving notifications. The good news, as revealed by Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore, is that both problems should be resolved very soon.

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With the big leak of Windows Blue build 9364 arriving over the weekend people have been furiously going through it to find any new, unannounced features that are presumably coming later in the year. For Windows Phone users, it’s even more interesting because we know that Windows Phone Blue is an analogous project that the Windows Phone dev team is undertaking at this moment.

To what extent Windows Blue, Windows Blue RT and Windows Phone blue overlap is still not known, but it has been strongly suggested that this is one of the first attempts to bridge the OSs, including a common Store.

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We broke the news last week that Liquid Daffodil will be releasing a notification center system called Unification for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 sometime in the near future (it's officially in Beta testing as we speak).. The system is opt-in meaning devs can just add a line of code to their app to hook into it. Now it looks like a competing system is starting to take form from Alex White, called NotifyMe!

The app is still vaporware at this time and like LD’s, it uses an opt-in system for developers to use the notification system. The concept is interesting as it evidently uses the dynamic Lock Screen ability in Windows Phone 8 to generate new wallpaper (we’re assuming) when there’s a new notification.

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It was just a few nights ago that Notifications, a third party app from Windows Phone Hacker, was cleared for the Store. The app filled an important gap on the OS, allowing a centralized area for app notifications and although it seemingly had mixed reviews, it was still an impressive first step.

Now we’re getting word that the app has been removed from the Store, meaning if you had paid for it you no longer have access to it...

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For those looking for a notifications center, you might be in luck. Notifications is now available in the Windows Phone Store that should do the trick.

The downside to Notifications is that it's only available for Windows Phone 7.x devices (not sure about 7.8 devices though). The developer is trying to rectify that but it'll take some time.

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Windows Phone Hacker has unveiled a notification centre app for both Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 on his website. Microsoft has received countless letters, threats and (we're certain) love notes from consumers pleading for a single location for all toast notifications to be stored for later viewing.

It has always been an issue when a Windows Phone alerts the user with a notification, only for it to disappear without the ability to see which app requires attention (this is where Live Tiles arguably come in, but that's besides the point). We're aware of the talks that Microsoft intends to implement functionality to address the issue, but Windows Phone Hacker has beaten the company to it with a new project.

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To the left, Twitter and to the right, reportedly Facebook notifications

Looks like Nokia’s New York City announcement is the gift that keeps on giving. Such is the case from the newly observed Twitter and Facebook notifications on the Lock screen during the introduction of the wireless charging part of the presentation. (Although Twitter is clear as day for us, we're still  not sure about the Facebook one--it's quite hard to tell.)

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Pinnable CC's and new notifications

Many of the new features of Windows Phone 8 are already known due to the leaked SDK over the summer but exactly how some of it will look is still a bit unclear.

Take for example the NFC Wallet app. It’s a safe assumption that it will allow many different options—storage of coupons, deal cards, frequent flier pass and of course your credit cards. It’s also not too wild of a guess that Microsoft will allow you to pin those to your Start screen for quick and easy access.

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We’ve hinted at this before and the leak of the Windows Phone 8 SDK is validating our claim that “Apollo” will allow richer notification support for 3rd party developers.

Developers will now be able to have their app send notifications to the Lock Screen with the content reflecting the app’s Live Tile:

“In Windows Phone, the lock screen contained a handful of notifications such as the number of new Outlook emails and text messages. In Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview, end users can choose to customize this area with any third party apps they choose. As a developer, you can enable your app to be used in this feature. “

An app can provide content for the following four items on the lock screen:

  • The background image. This image is unrelated to lock screen notifications, and is documented at Lock screen background for Windows Phone.
  • An app icon
  • An app count
  • App text
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Can we expect changes in the Windows Phone 8 Lock screen? 

Back at the Summit a few weeks ago, Microsoft was very clear that they were not showing all of Windows Phone 8, in fact we were only getting a peek. The reason for that is multifaceted but their official position is they don’t want to show consumer features to consumers when we’re still months from release. Then there’s the whole idea of trying to prevent an Osborne effect i.e. hurting current sales by enticing customers to wait for new phones this fall.

One tiny area of interest was an observation today from a reader (erichon99) in the new Start screen video by Microsoft. At about the 2:15 mark (snapshot below) you can see some icons on the Lock screen: 1 Missed Call/Voicemail, 4 text messages and presumably 13 new Hotmail/Live mail messages.

What caught our reader’s attention was the new Hotmail/Live mail icon which ironically is the old Windows flag logo (yet the new logo is clearly used for the capacitive button). To be honest, we think this is just a mockup oversight and we have no idea if Hotmail/Live mail would use the old logo though we’re leaning towards ‘no’ on that one--in other words, nothing to see here. However...

In Microsoft's video there's an apparent oversight in logo-matching 

...this brings back to the beginning—what are those new features in Windows Phone 8? We don’t want to ruin Microsoft’s surprise but we can tell you that looking at the Lock screen for notification changes is a good start.

One area many have complained about in Windows Phone 7 is the lack of a “notification-center”. More accurately if a notification comes in for a 3rd party app and you miss it, well, you missed it. Sure you can use the app's Live Tile but that assumes (a) You've pinned it to your Start screen and (b) You've scrolled down to check it at some point. But can the OS be even more "glance and go"? The answer is 'yes'.

We’re not sure if Microsoft will have an actual notification-center on board (ala Android's "drawer") but we do know they solved this problem another way in Windows Phone 8—by giving developer access to the Lock screen with the added ability to have custom notifications. There are actually four options for developers to choose from with one of them being extremely creative as it will give you a fresh look to your Lock screen numerous times a day. We won’t say much more on the matter for fear of raising Microsoft’s ire but hopefully this tease will get you excited for what’s coming in Windows Phone 8.  

Microsoft is once again not copying the competition, they're doing it their way and in a few weeks, you can judge for yourself.

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