A new Windows Store app platform feature called Chaseable Tiles has started appearing in some in-box Windows 10 apps.
That’s a mouthful, I know. Here’s what’s happening.
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At its Build 2016 developer conference back in April, Microsoft announced a new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app feature called Chaseable Tiles that would blend notification capabilities with the live display on app tiles in Start on Windows 10. That is, to date, apps have been able to display notifications on the Windows 10 desktop that, when clicked, navigate the user to a specific bit of content inside the app instead of just the app’s default display. So, for example, when you get a new email notification and select it, the Mail app will launch and display that email, not your inbox.
But live tiles haven’t worked that way. Yes, apps could display specific content on a rotating/live basis, but when you selected the app tile, the app’s default view would appear. So in the case of that Mail app, if you clicked its tile when it was displaying the header for a particular email message, the Mail app would appear, but display its default (inbox) view. Not the message.
As Microsoft explained to developers at the time, this capability should not—and will not—be added to all apps. Indeed, the Mail example I used above was illustrative, and when you select the Mail tile in Start, you will always navigate to the default (or current, if the app is already running) view.
But it makes sense for some apps. Including MSN News and Weather, which are the first in-box apps to get this support in Windows 10.
Microsoft has been testing Chaseable Tiles in Windows 10 for a while now, and these two app updates have made their way through the Windows Insider Fast, Slow, and Release Preview rings throughout this past month. But they are now available to the public, so anyone with Windows 10—on PC or Mobile—will see the update now.
Well, in theory. I can’t get either app to do anything other than display the default view for some reason, and the Mail app sits there without displaying living data at all.
But here’s how it should work.
The Weather tile should cycle between five places—your current place plus up to four favorites—as you watch it. If you select the tile when it is displaying a particular place, the Weather app should open and show you the weather for that place, and not for your current location.
The News tile, meanwhile, can cycle between five top stories. When you select the tile, the News app will open to display the story you selected.
Presumably, the MSN Sports app will be updated soon to support this functionality as well. And presumably, the apps will actually start working on my own PC at some point too. Fingers crossed.
<p>As a developer, I can say that live tiles are the most annoying aspect to program. The complete inability to control how and when a live tile updates makes them unreliable, and I find myself wondering how to explain to users why their live tile does not show up-to-date information. Even when the app is OPEN and you try to force through a live tile update, Windows can simply decide not to perform the update.</p>
<p>The fact that frequent updates to a tile cannot be done — and that updates generally speaking can be ignored by Windows completely — makes live tiles fairly useless. But users definitely expect an app to have a live tile, and they rightfully get upset with the live tiles not updating consistently. Any check of support forums will show massive numbers of complaints.</p>
<p>Live Tiles were initially supposed to be good enough to replace desktop gadgets. But they are not even close — it’s almost embarrassing to suggest that live tiles could replace desktop gadgets.</p>
<p>This "chaseable" concept has me a bit concerned. The live tile is the main way a user launches an app. So what if they want to launch to the app’s main view, regardless of the tile’s contents? (As happens now.) Clearly, "chaseable" should not be implemented unless the user can also choose NOT to launch into the specific content shown on the tile.</p>