Peter Torr and Application Multi-Tasking on Windows Phone "Mango"

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"Mango" is the code name for the upcoming release of the Windows Phone application platform. As you've no doubt read in countless other locations, there are lots of new features and capabilities being added in "Mango" which will benefit both users as well as application developers.

In this episode, I meet with Peter Torr, from the Windows Phone Application Platform Team to specifically focus on the new multi-tasking support that "Mango" will enable. Peter also shares a few details on his favorite feature of "Mango"—its ability to organize your contacts together in "groups," which makes it easier for you to keep track of, and interact with, the people important to you.

You can find more information about Multi-Tasking on Windows Phone "Mango" here:

  • Peter Torr's Blog
    Peter focuses on a few different things on his blog, but has recently posted a few entries specifically dealing with supporting background agents, alarms, and notifications that "Mango" makes available. 
  • Windows Phone "Mango" Training Course
    MSDN has published a training kit for Windows Phone developers that will help them get up to speed with some of the new features in Windows Phone "Mango."
  • Multi-Tasking and Application Switching for Windows Phone
    Earlier this year, Peter had a presentation at TechEd North America where he also talked about the new multi-tasking capabilities of Windows Phone "Mango."
  • Multi-Tasking in "Mango": Part II Using Background Agents
    At MIX11, Peter also presented on how developers can make use of background agents in their applications, and why.
  • Multi-Tasking in "Mango": Part I
    Peter's MIX11 presentation was "Part II" of multi-tasking, here is "Part I," by Darin Miller, which covers multi-tasking in general.
  • Windows Phone Team Blog
    While not specifically focused on developer issues in general, or multi-tasking specifically, the Windows Phone Team has it's own blog, which can provide you with some news and details on what may be upcoming.
  • Resources for Windows Phone "Mango" Developers
    And for "Mango" development issues and insights in general, you can check this out for links to documentation and code samples as well as general discussions amongst your fellow developers.



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The Discussion

  • User profile image

    Great conversation on the phone multi-tasking issues! Here are my minutes annotations on the video:

    2:30 why multi-tasking support took so long? It impacts battery life & user experience.

    4:13 why multitasking is hard on phone?

    5:44 higher bar requirement for user experience on the phone

    6:00 fast switching requires rebuilding app for Mango

    7:20 difference between WP7 & Mango

    9:00 how app runs in the background?
      no GUI, 6Mb memory, cannot run 100% CPU for more than 25s

    9:54 resources taken by the twitter demoed app

    10:33 XNA doesn't support background agents
     has a diff mechanism to play media (doesn't support random sound effects)

    12:11 granularity of control the developer & user have on background tasks
    12:30 background transfers, alarms and reminders are handled by sys
    12:50 audio agents run all the time

    13:15 flavours of generic background agents
     1. periodic agents
     2. resource intensive agents (run in night stand mode)
     run  in round robin fashion every 10 min (e.g. for data syncing)

    14:55 demo of background agent management
        app cannot turn on its agent on if user doesn't want it

    1740 location aware feature

    18:00 battery draining issue

    19:03 Mango favourite feature: groups

  • User profile image

    Thanks for doing the summary George! A couple of clarifications; sorry if it wasn't clear:

    1) Agents are limited to 25s, but they won't be getting 100% CPU (unless the phone is otherwise idle). We do ensure they don't starve, but it is a low amount of CPU

    2) XNA applications can have agents, but those agents can't use XNA libraries. So, for example, an XNA game can use an agent to update its tile... it just can't use 3D, SoundEffects, etc.

    3) Audio agents run all the time while they are playing audio; if you pause the audio, they are terminated after ~10 mins.

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