Blog Post

Why some Windows Phone apps still waste time refreshing when switching between them

Have you used a Windows Phone lately? I have, and the Windows Phone 8.1 software update has made the experience so much better.

Live Folders

Between Cortana, new Live Folders in the latest release and the improved keyboard, to name a few features, I find Windows Phone is actually enjoyable to use. But there’s still an annoyance when it comes to apps. No, it’s not that some of the apps I’d like to use are missing — the [company]Google[/company] ones in particular — it’s the time-wasting refresh screen when switching between many apps.

Wait, didn’t [company]Microsoft[/company] add a feature called “fast resume” or Fast App Switching (FAS) to rid us of those pesky little dots traveling from side to side under the “Resuming” message? Yes, Microsoft did. The issue appears to be that developers haven’t yet enabled it.

windows phone resuming

Steve Litchfield, one of the most knowledgable Windows Phone enthusiasts I know, performed a small unscientific test to see how widespread the problem is. He loaded up 20 apps on his Windows Phone to see which of them resumed quickly compared to the pokey, old way. Seven of the 20 were on the fast train, meaning that in this small test sample, 65 percent of the apps are still using the old method.

Litchfield suggests that developers really don’t have to do too much to fix this and speed up app resuming: They simply need to enable FAS in the app’s manifest file and recompile it for Windows Phone 8.1. Interestingly, of the 20 apps Litchfield tested, a dozen are from Microsoft or [company]Nokia[/company]. Of this dozen, six aren’t yet compiled for Windows Phone 8.1, he reports.

Aside from Microsoft’s own apps that really should be optimized for all versions of Windows Phone, this situation illustrates a core challenge Microsoft has with its mobile platform: developer support. Time and time again we see apps for [company]Apple[/company] iOS or Google Android that are the most recent version or have the latest features while their Windows Phone counterparts — if they even exist — are left languishing for some programming love.

4 Responses to “Why some Windows Phone apps still waste time refreshing when switching between them”

  1. Tired Windows Phone Developer

    Exactly my point. Blame it on the developers, who are already half handicapped due to extremely limited features that the SDK provides.On top of that, if you want to gain a tiny bit extra of the OS features, you would have to use WinRT SDK, which in turn extends your learning curve, confusing XAML and extremely lengthy amount of code (just try doing live tiles which are now notifications).

  2. LifeBlogGems

    Didn’t we have this yesterday[1] already?
    The problem with this article is that while it sounds compelling to the novice or amateur developer (“enable fast app resume to get rid of slow resuming”), it is completely and utterly wrong. Understanding why requires a fairly sophisticated technical understanding of how WP apps are built and how Multitasking works on Windows Phone.
    The article is based on Steve Litchfield’s article on AAWP yesterday (see ), which is already fairly terrible (but at least in parts contained correct elements). For a summary of the mistakes in Litchfield’s article, see Matteo Contrini’s comments.
    Now, this article is based on Litchfields incorrect “findings”, so doesn’t exactly get off to a good start. The author then adds a nice twist by confusing fast app switching with fast app resume, suggests a few things that make no sense whatsoever, and tops if off by bitching at WP developers.