Live Apps - Microsoft’s new language for apps with Live Tile functionality [Updated]

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.

The bad news is no, Live Apps are not some new feature. Earlier in the year, Microsoft sought advice and feedback on some new language to describe certain features in Windows Phone. One of those was how to describe apps that have a Live Tile. It may seem odd at first, but there are plenty of apps e.g. Office or games e.g. Contre Jour that do not have Live Tiles. On the other hand, some apps are practically defined by them like stock or weather apps.

So that’s all it is: apps that have their own Live Tile.

We can, however give you some related news in regards to multitasking.


One pet peeve that many users have with Windows Phone concerns how apps multitask. Specifically, if the app has already been launched. If you use the hold-back button method, you can go back to your app right where you left off—brilliant.

But, if you were to tap the app’s Tile it effectively re-launches the app, even though you already have it running. It’s an odd behavior as sometimes that Tile is faster than cycling and switching apps—it’s just not intuitive.

We have now heard from a good source that this behavior is now fixed in Windows Phone 8. Launching an app that is already running will bring you to where you left off, not restart the app. In fact, if you scour some hands-on videos out there, you can on occasion see this happen (the Pictures Hub is one instance). Combined with the ability to have up to eight apps running (as revealed in an earlier video) users should hopefully be happy with the new changes.

Update: We have some more clarification on the the resuming/re-starting issue. In Windows Phone 8, first party apps can do this e.g. Pictures Hub and Email, etc. But third party apps cannot officially do this behavior, unless they do a trick. The trick is for developers to mark their apps as "GPS apps", which can then take advantage of running in the background. What is not clear is if regular third-party apps that do this will pass certification. The good news is that apps like Nokia Drive or anything that does use GPS can take advantage of this feature.  -Thanks to another unnamed source for the info

So while Live Apps may be a bust for a secret feature, hopefully that other bit of info will make up for it.

Thanks Trazer and our unnamed source for the info

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.