Windows* Store Apps: The Differentiating Features

Objective

In this blog we will discuss the key aspects of Windows 8 and the differentiating features of the Windows Store apps. We also present the application developers with the key items to consider when developing Win8 Store Apps and references on how to create Win8 Store Apps.

For detailed information discussed in this blog, please refer to the article:

 

 

Overview of Windows 8 Features

Windows 8 incorporates the following new features:

  • “Fast and Fluid” Start screen
  • Great experience across all hardware –form factor devices, from Intel® Atom™ based tablets to Intel® Core™ based Ultrabook™ systems
  • Apps from the Windows Store*
  • Immersive and full screen
  •  Touch first with full keyboard and mouse

 

In the following section, we will focus our discussion on the key differentiators:

  • Live Tiles
  • Charms Menu / App Bar
  • Lock Screen Icons
  • Semantic Zoom
  • Snap / Fill Views
  • Windows Runtime APIs feel natural in C#, Javascript, and C++, the Visual Studio* 2012

 

Live Tiles

Tiles are app icons on the Windows 8 Start Screen. These tiles are the first view (or window) into a given Windows Store app. Windows 8 allows the app developer to update the tiles dynamically with key information about the app.

Utilizing the live update feature of tiles makes your app stand out among a list of static tiles and improve user experience.

 

The Charms

The Charms “Bar” is the vertical bar which appears on the right side of the screen when swiped into the screen from the right side either desktop or Start Screen.  It includes several links to perform various tasks.

Search, Share, Settings and Devices charms are always available. Charms behavior can change based on the application being used. Developers should utilize this feature to provide consistent experience to users and should look into adding additional capabilities via Charms.

 

 

App Bar

On Windows 8, Menu Options and Commands are available from App Bar.

The App Bar is accessible by swiping up from the bottom edge or swiping down from the top edge of the screen. It is hidden until pulled-up by the user, thus providing more real estate.

Content of the App Bar can change dynamically based on the item selected by the user. If no content selected, then the app generic actions are displayed. If a single object is selected, object specific actions are added. If multiple objects are selected, some object specific actions may be replaced with actions that apply to multiple objects. Object selection can be done with swiping down on object or by right-clicking with the mouse.

 

Lock screen icons

Lock screen icons appear on the lock screen and can convey important status information from your app at a glance. By keeping key information updated on the lock screen, users do not need to log-in if no data has changed. At the same time, critical information appearing on the lock screen can alert the user that there is a need to log-in.

By default, battery level, time and wireless connection status are displayed on the lock screen.

 

Snapped and Fill Views

Windows 8 allows apps to be presented in a Snap or Fill view to allow for multiple apps to be active simultaneously.

The Snap view can be invoked by moving the finger from top of the screen and moving to the right or left of the screen without lifting it.

One app can occupy 1/4 of the screen, while another occupies the other 3/4.

The “divider” can be moved to the left or right to swap apps using 1/4 of the screen to using 3/4 of the screen and vice versa.

Both apps are “live” at the same time.

 

 

Semantic Zoom

Semantic Zoom allows larger amount of similar data elements to be presented to the user using pinch gesture in two steps. Zooming gestures “dives-in” to the set of records to display less number of records with greater details.

Semantic Zoom is different from the typical pinch and zoom gesture behavior.

An app that shows collection of items can utilize the semantic zoom feature to give a “bird’s eye view” when pinched (zoomed out), details of a group and single item when stretched (zoomed in), and as a second step, a single item. Apps displaying multiple records, like contacts, pictures, stocks, etc. should incorporate the semantic zoom feature.

 

 

Support for Multiple Languages

Windows 8 applications can be developed using various languages – HTML5/CSS or XAML; Javascript, C#, C++, Visual Basic. All treated as first class languages.

Visual Studio 2012 provides an integrated development environment for developers to use any of the programming languages from the same tool.

Visual Studio 2012 also provides powerful design tools.

 

Other Windows 8 Features/Capabilities

Here is a list of other features and capabilities:

  • Users can edit application settings by pulling up the Settings charm without leaving the app
  • Desktop mode allows for running PowerShell scripts and desktop apps
  • Apps work together via Contracts and Extensions, more than just Share; File Picker, Search, etc.

                 - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh464906.aspx

  •  Support available for app settings to roam across devices 

                 - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsappdev/archive/2012/07/17/roaming-your-app-data.aspx

  •  SDKs and Tools for Developing Geolocation Windows Store applications and seamless integration with Bing Maps services

- http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/developing-javascript-metro-style-apps-that-use-the-geolocation-api-and-the-bing-maps-sdk

 

Improved User Experiences on IA-based Devices

 

On IA-based devices, we can utilize WiDi in desktop apps to provide improved user experience and unique usage models. 

 

WiDi SDK can be download from the link below:

 

Game play, presenting local content, other “offline” usage models do not require device to be on a WiFi network.

On IA-based devices, we can also integrate Perceptual Computing SDK components to create new app experiences.

 

For Further Information

Please refer to the article:

 

 

 

 

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