More Windows Phone 8 dev features revealed - background location, video codecs and more

Although the day is winding down, we’re still going through the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK from early this morning. We’re finding some smaller nuggets which aren’t ‘wow’ worthy in of themselves but they are certainly worth a mention, especially since they do add some significant new features to the Windows Phone experience.

We must stress—these are still not the new ‘consumer’ features for Windows Phone 8 which Microsoft has yet to reveal. These are simply more tools for developers to give them more options and features for their apps. These APIs take a long time to write and document which is why SDKs take time to build before going public.

So what are some of these new options for devs?

  • Background location-tracking for apps
  • More refined search for apps in the Marketplace
  • Custom contact store with cloud sync
  • Media library access for devs
  • Networking enhancements
  • Right to Left (RTL) language support
  • Media codec support and stats

Head past the break for some more details including snippets from the SDK itself…

Background location-tracking is fairly self-explanatory. Devs will finally be able to have their app ping for location updates while running in the background which is good for apps that use turn-by-turn directions. This means you can throw an app in the background and still have it read out the directions while you’re driving (or launching another app). That is certainly a welcome feature and it should make location-based apps much more useful.

Custom contact store for apps is a little less exciting but still interesting as it allows devs to maintain their own contact list within the app that can hook into the People Hub.  In addition, devs can sync their custom contact store with that on the device. How such a feature will be used is still not clear to us but hopefully some devs can chime in with some examples.

Search extensibility improvements – Although Windows Phone 7 allows you to search for apps based on nouns, Windows Phone 8 will improve this by the additional use of verbs.  An example used in the SDK is the word “reserve” for reserving a table.  If an app uses the verb and it hits during the search, it will get a boost in its relevance, ranking it higher.  If by chance you already have the app, the user can tap the icon and it will launch with the search-query. That should greatly enhance the user search experience and save them from re-typing search items.

WP Central

Windows Phone 8 now supports RTL languages 

Networking enhancements – We’ll just post this verbatim from the SDK as it gets a little technical:

“Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview inherits new functionality from the Windows 8 and Microsoft® .NET Framework networking stacks, adding support for IPv6, listener sockets, and more granular information about connected endpoints. Among other things, these API enhancements, which include the Bind, Listen, and AcceptAsync methods, support scenarios that involve peer-to-peer connections between phones.”

Media library API – This is short and sweet but with Windows Phone 8, developers can add and delete media, including music, pictures, and audio.

Right to Left (RTL) language support - Kind of self explanatory as well but languages like Persian, Hebrew and Arabic don't get a lot of support in Windows Phone 7. Luckily in Windows Phone 8, the OS can finally handle these types of languages and the SDK details how to code for these so-called bidirectional apps.

Finally we’ll leave you with this graphic which lays out video codec support with the Qualcomm 8x50 and 8x55 processors. These will be used on the more high-end mid-range Windows Phone 8 devices. The numbers should impress but that’s also a relative judgment so we’ll leave it to you to hash out.

[Note: this SDK is not final, so more chipsets may be supported in the finalized SDK due out in a few weeks].

Windows Phone 8 Video Codec support detailed in the SDK

Make sure you read up on the rest of our coverage of the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK:

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.