What are “Live Apps” and are they coming to Windows Phone 8?

Are Live Apps just Metro Apps renamed?

Now that some third-party stores are getting their marketing and display setups for the big Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 co-launch at the end of the month, some new questions are being raised.

First and foremost is what are “Live Apps”? The term comes via a display sign that asks users to swipe up, down, left or right on the screen to explore them at a Best Buy store. The questions is, we just don’t know what they are exactly.

Two possibilities naturally present themselves: this is a new, unannounced feature for Windows Phone 8 or this is just a display-unit addition for demonstrations with no serious implications for the platform. (The tipster who sent the images into Neowin does not believe it’s a demonstration tool, but rather an actual feature for what it’s worth.)

Live Apps

Live Apps are not to be confused with Live Tiles


If we explore the first possibility, the one that we’re sure all of you are now entertaining, what could “Live Apps” mean?

Well, they are not Live Tiles as there is another display that specifically mentions that feature, so no, they are not confused. Instead, Windows Phone 8 may have the same app swapping feature that Windows 8 has i.e. when you gesture by dragging from the left you can bring up your last app. Or it may simply be a way to see notifications/impending app changes or some new way of multi-tasking.

On the other hand, this could just be a renaming of "Metro apps" to "Live apps" (we guess "Windows 8 style apps" is just too long, eh?). Personally, we're leaning on this idea.

It’s obviously way too early to tell so we’ll just have to wait a few more weeks to find out. Have a theory? Sound off in comments.

Source: Neowin; Thanks, Kitt S., for the tip

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, 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 for some reason, watches. 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.

  • So much explorer-ing!
    Does seem like it would make a good addition to WP!
  • I caught it too
  • That's what happens when you type Internet Explorer too much :P
  • I am wating for 29oct so I can see have they thaw integrate to windows 8 wp8 all there services
  • hmmm. Could 'Live Apps' not just refer to an umbrella branding towards the notion of Live Tiles (their appearence and functionality), utilised by the W8/WP8 os's - ie; a term that applies to the fact that apps in the Store can be built with a 'live' realtime capability, just as we currently have. In essence, just another way to communicate the Live Tile ethos.
  • Yep, thats what I think. They just try to explain what Live Tiles are to people who dont know WP or Win8.
  • We're gonna need a gesture area like webOS! (I sometimes miss my pre, lol)
  • live apps a.k.a. Metro apps :)
  • How i much love my lumia 800 but with 7.8 update i will be so happy
  • Live apps are probably just apps that let you swipe to multiple pages within the app. Or scrolling apps.
  • WP8 will be A-W-E-S-O-M-E.
  • I don't think we're going to see a huge addition of "new" features on this revision...
  • Trolling much? what on earth makes you say that? Also, define 'new'.. the evidence so far in the press and on this site alone seems to contradict your opinion. Sure, the superficial WP look hasnt changed- aside form the tile size capability - but its extremely short sighted to ding the whole OS based on what you feel has or had not met your expectations.
  • cut the fanboy act...... essetial things are missing from wp7.5  and wp8  doenst seem to bring them so....  these fanboys bashing everyone who has critics on wp8 are so lame.....
  • Can you name those missing things plesae Mafijoco?
    As far as I know, the full feature set of WP8 has not been detailed by Microsoft yet.
    So I am really excited about your list, and your source of full feature set :)
    But as one of the people said above, I think this is the "catch up" release to replace the core. And the foundation for great stuff to come.
    For me, I already think WP7 is superior to most phone experiences (iPhone is probably the most complete experience right now, but WP is better than the rest)
    In order to beat iPhone, we needed great hardware. 920, and 8x is that hardware.
    Background apps, and more customization (tones, front tiles etc)
    We seem to have those major 2 items, which to my mind (if battery tests prove WP is fine) then I think that will put Windows Phone in the lead. I almost bought an iPhone this time round, but iOS has not change much, and neither will WP in use - so the better WP hardware has won me over.
    (That, and Skydrive, the new Hotmail, OneNote, Xbox, Surface, Windows 8 - means the phone is a no brainer as it enhances my MS based productivity and software tools and cloud services)
  • Is that some kind of sick joke?
  • How would you know when MS has not even released the SDK to everyone!
  • Maybe those are apps running in the background? Would make sense that multitasking for all apps works like it does in WP7.5 but Live Apps can run full in the background and you can switch to them with a simple gesture.
    And why is that phone so large?
  • On WP7.5, we have this functionality. Simply press and hold the back key. This will give ability to swap between apps,functions.
  • It explains that most of the Content is off-screen. We know that. Consumers might wonder.
  • maybe you can all tiles on the start screen tap two the left side screen and there are livetiles where you gain live updates from this app our maybe person or maybe a nokia maps route wher an accident is or something like that.
    person is online on facebook online on skype or something like that.
  • i think this may be a new way of talking about the live tiles/home screen. app list to the right, notification center (!?!) to the left, a line of live tiles up and down like we have now. perhaps more tiles above the home screen center orientation even? or maybe notification center could be up there and....okay i'm just speculating.
    what i'm getting at is that right now from the home screen you can basically swipe to the right, or swipe down. that's really it. for them to open up the start screen experience would be wise and VERY useful for the end user. it would essentially be doubling the amount of information quickly accessible from the home screen.
    furthermore, this would not require any changes from app developers at all, or any different plans or hardware by OEMs. so this could be one of the secrets (if not THE secret) that they're holding back. this could be all held back and shown to no one at all except maybe the highest levels of testers for the phone manufacturers, which is why it hasn't been leaked yet.
    just my ideas!
  • No we can't swipe to right on startscreen. We can only swipe to left.....
  • go right by physically swiping with your finger to the left. you know good and well what i meant.
  • But you can't currently swipe both left AND right from the start screen. So Jc was right, you can swipe one way, but not both as indicated in the image.
  • "Currently". You have no idea what WP8 will bring, so your point is moot.
  • You can swipe left to the app list and then swipe right back to the start screen. That is swiping left and right last time I checked. They haven't said "FROM the start screen"
  • http://pocketnow.com/2012/10/09/windows-phone-8-gestures/ Pocketnow ran an article on how Microsoft could possibly include W8 type gestures into WP8. Like swipe from left to quickly switch apps. This almost sounds eerily similar to that proposition.
  • I read it, and it would amazing to have that. 
  • But that is why we have a Back button on Windows Phone. There is no need for another gesture to go back.
  • The back button takes you back to where you were within the same app. Hitting the back button does not always take you to a previous app. Now, if you are talking about the "press and hold" to get to the app switcher, I can understand. However, it is still faster and cooler to swipe from left to get to a previous app.
  • Exactly! Would love that.
  • Considering you can already swipe right, up and down to see more apps, I think the interesting thing is swipe left. I would love to have a charms bar in WP8
  • At least we know why they killed the live brand, if there are Live Apps now ;-)
  • If it is indeed a large new feature, this could be a serious explanation.
  • Gestures could go along way towards placating the dissatisfied Symbian users and getting them to switch, which could translate into a nice bump in global market share for the platform...
  • And just as we thought Microsoft is gradually killing the "Live" brand..... they bring it back.
  • Right... This is gonna get confusing
  • I think something like HTC wp8s clock tile! :-]
  • It's probably just about the apps from MS like Live mail, Live messenger etc
  • They are killing off the "Live" part of the name for these services, so I don't think that's what they mean. The fact that they are killing this part of the name makes sense though if they are now using it to describe Formerly-known-as-Metro apps. For people unfamiliar with Windows Phone apps, and their ability to feed info to Live Tiles, it makes a lot of sense to call them Live Apps.
  • Do you not read the article, it specifically says not to get confused with live tiles and apps. Two different terminology.
  • @stevethenerd
    There is no way we will not see a ton of changes in 8. If that were the case, why keep things so well guarded?? MS must have something up their sleeve.
  • I feel that they should implement the app swipe feature from the left and the closing swipe from the top. I also think that all apps should feature what the W8 home screen does which allows you to pinch the screen and go to the section you want. So every app should be a beautiful panorama that is then zoomed out by the consumer and he/she goes to the appropriate section of the app.
  • they want to get rid of "live", yet they introduce more "live".  make up your mind...
  • Right, I wish they would just settle on one brand. It feels disorganized.
  • How does anyone not think "Notification Center" ? This is clearly screaming it. To me at least... I'd imagine something cool perhaps like little segments of the apps you recently use that give off information, a messaging center included perhaps? Iunno but they have a chance to make it really creative is all I know
  • You guys can we please let them finish what they are good at and stop second guessing?? First wave phones are due on November and December. Im sure it's not harm to us by waiting.
  • Im so excited to swich my old phone to a wp8. I got bored of the same interface of the iphone so windows wil be a nice solution for that. 
  • Exactly.
  • Luiislp
    Awesome choice of switch to WP8
  • I would love to see a way to control the live tiles instead of waiting for them to flip by themselves. Like if you could swipe the individual tiles and cycle through what's new, e.g. texts or emails or calendar events.
  • That would be fun to show off, if the tiles were not only alive but also interactive.
  • We should really be able to make a small circular gesture on a tile to make it flip.  It would feel so intuitive and alive.
  • Isn't this just the new naming they are using in stead of the Metro name? The name Metro became illegal to use for Microsoft because one stupid German firm threatned them for using the name Metro. On the other hand, they also use Windows 8 interface and Modern UI interface. So confusing...
  • Ya I think "Live App" is just the new "Metro Apps". The added swipe direction may be for a new function though.
  • Just marketing material imo.  It would be great to see gesture consistency between Windows and Windows Phone.  So you might be right about the new method for task/app switching.  As Windows 8 gains real life metrics on usage patterns and updated to enhance the experience, I bet we'll see that make its way into Windows Phone 8 as well.
  • I feel like everyone is thinking too hard on this. As much as I'd love for this to be some new feature, I think "Live apps" may just refer to just about any app. Think about this wpcentral app. Swipe left or right to explore content, and up and down to explore pages. Doubt MS will have been able to keep some crazy huge new feature hidden, but of course I could be (and kind of hope I am) completely wrong.
  • Yup, "Live Apps" = "Metro Apps"
  • Live apps are those that live between the different screen (WP8, W8 and tablet/Xbox), or at least that my desire...
  • I never thought about them bringing gestures over from W8 but that would make a lot of sense if they are trying to unify their eco-system.  Maybe they wil make the back button only for within apps and bring in the mulitasking by swiping from the left.  Would be a lot faster than holding the back button. 
    I am a diehard WP fan but unless MS is reeeeeallly good at keeping secrets, I'm just not sure they haven't revealed  many features that haven't already been revealed by the SDK or earlier at the Developer preview.  I am starting to have some doubts, I hope I'm wrong,  I reeeeeeallly hope I'm wrong.   I'm not changing OS's regardless because neither of the alternatives suit me.  iOS= boring desktop full of dead icons.  Android = chaos and I've never seen an Android that pleases me aesthetically.  Anyway sorry for getting off topic!
  • I think the secret big thing in WP8 will be replicated Windows 8 gesture with some tweaks for smaller form factors.
  • Omg msft is APPLE via PAUL THURROT
  • I thought they were trying to kill everything "Live" like Live Essentials on PC or Xbox Live games... Oh Microsoft.
  • Probably SkyDrive hosted apps. This in their next platform.
  • So your saying when you swipe right the app list will be live? Like notifications, maybe numbers showing activity, maybe two finger swipes allowing a drop down box for more info in the app list? Sounds good to me.
  • I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that WP8 may incorporate some of Windows 8's gestures - for app-switching, calling up Settings from the start screen, maybe a notifications centre, etc. Wouldn't be a bad idea if we're of the assumption that Windows 8 may push people to WP8, and those new WP8 users may expect commonality between phone and PC when it comes to actual usage. 
  • I'm pretty sure I filled out a survey a few months ago regarding what I thought of the term "live apps" and I was asked to suggest options other than live apps. In the forum I was also asked to come up with a tag line to go with it in an advertising scenario. I liked the term as making more sense to me in explaining the difference between normal apps and "live apps"to customers. As I recall there might even be a requirement in functionality on your live tile to be considered a live app. I will have to go back and reread this info, I had totally forgot about it.
  • Two apps in one screen ? That be a real nice additio multitasking
  • I think this is the distribution name for the html5 applications, non native applications. The "live apps" sounds apps which are on the MS-store but actually whole content of the app is "live" on the cloud, like webpage. This kind applications could be easily available to cross-platform (iOS, Anroid, ..)
  • Unfortunately the "live apps" seems to be in real life just apps in generally, just new name for "metro apps"...
    Still I beleive html5 will be in significant role with the future apps.
  • the new multtasking - win8 guestures of swiping in apps from the sides?
  • Live apps meaning that you can interact with the apps via voice commands...thats exactly what it is..all developpers have access to this.
  • No matter whatever whoever say, I still call this as METRO. (hopefully, I'll not be sued ,LOL)