Optimising Apps for Tango Limitations

| March 9, 2012 | 23 Replies


The Windows Phone blog talks about optimising apps for Tango – well not explicitly Tango but for lower cost devices such as the Nokia Lumia 610 and those cheaper handsets that would follow.

I haven’t read the full thing but something I might have read wrong but concerns me is that they mention having home button in app (to make it easier for people to navigate their app quickly) is somehow bad and might end up causing memory leaks. I’m guessing home button is not the Windows button. Anyway, apparently home button navigation can ” result in circular navigation loops which can fill the back stack with redundant page instances.” I’m no programmer but couldn’t there be a way to just cut the ‘back stack’ the moment a home button is pressed? Essentially when a user presses the home button it’s to exit back to main view anyway (unless accidentally pressed).

The whole of the article focuses mainly on optimisation of applications so that apps can still have a great user experience but not using more resources than necessary. This should, on paper, be beneficial to higher end devices too.

By following these basic principles, you can ensure that your users will have a great experience with your Windows Phone app regardless of the target market. Not only will these optimizations result in great performance on lower cost phones, but the optimizations you make will improve the performance of your app on today’s generation of devices as well, so get a head start tuning your app with the devices you have today. Additionally leverage the 256MB emulator to test your app with the runtime behavior of a 256MB device. Most importantly, have fun building for Windows Phone. We look forward to seeing the great experiences you can bring to the Windows Phone Marketplace.


TheVerge also noted down the new limitations. Cheaper devices, less functionality. We have seen from demoes and the reaction of those that have tried it, that devices like the Lumia 610 still look remarkably snappy.

However, I am not a fan of these limitations listed below.

On the one hand, it might be good for maintaining that snappy fluid user experience but I think it might be detrimental to how WP is perceived. Why can’t they just keep the base from Generation 1 WP7 phones?

Are they working correctly to the needs of their lower-end target consumer? These phones better be damn cheap. The likes of the Lumia 710 is already at £150. Perhaps sub £99? I don’t see why fast app switching had to be removed*. It wasn’t an issue on the core apps as they already resumed in WP Vanilla. Perhaps for larger apps, you might nor even be able to download them anyway. :S.

  • Windows Phone Marketplace app restrictions – Some processor-intensive apps have specific memory requirements, and will not work on devices with 256MB of RAM.
  • Podcast subscriptions and video podcasts – Devices with 256MB of RAM will not be able to manage podcast subscriptions of watch video podcasts.
  • Bing Local Scout – Microsoft is disabling Bing Local Scout on 256MB of RAM devices.
  • Fast app switching – The fast application switching, introduced with Mango, will be disabled on 256 MB of RAM devices.
  • SkyDrive automatic photo upload – Automatic upload of SkyDrive pictures will not be possible on 256MB of RAM devices, but users can still upload these manually.
  • HD video playback – 256MB of RAM devices won’t be able to play video compressed with certain codecs.
  • Background agents – Microsoft has removed background agents functionality for devices with 256MB of memory.

Source: Windows Team Blog via TheVerge

Cheers Dan for the tip!

*Engadget says there will be some fast app switching – just as long as it adheres to the new app requirements and not use up more than 90mb ram. Majority of apps are apparently covered by that.

Cheers stylinred!


Category: Nokia, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]
  • tanush

    they are disabling multitasking functionalty also jay in lower end phones ?

    • Jay Montano

      It seems a lot will revert back to Vanilla WP7. Pressing back might instantly bring you back to an app or it might reload it if you’re on a lower end WP Tango phone. The optimisation of apps being asked of developers might help here (reduction in start up times).

      Multitasking (well its own form) will still work as it does on Mango 512MB phones.

  • mrtman

    Reducing functionality for “people in poor countries”, is it? They might be in for a surprise, people in poor countries will foremost value functionality to slickness of ui – and there are much more capable and cheaper android and symbian handsets out there.
    Its like microsoft genuinely thinks users are ready to abandon everything just for the metro ui…

  • stylinred

    engadget has a quick overview of whats going to be missing mainly for 256mb memory WP devices

  • Zipa

    Why can’t they keep the base from 1st gen WP phones, you ask?

    Well, that’s exactly what they did. 1st gen WP7 phone specs were 256 MB RAM and the exact same limitations that WP7.5 with improved features (or whatever it is called) is now enforcing.

    • Jay Montano

      Yeah after writing that I realised everything pretty much was back to Vanilla WP7. The main difference is app selection perhaps and video codecs (though it sucks there already anyway IMO).

      My biggest concern might be what apps they might be prohibited from downloading. Pretty much all gen1 WP had 512mb right? And all on Mango now and should work ok?

      Hmm well if anyone should be familiar with app compatibility variabilities on the same platform it’s us Symbian folk.

      • Zipa

        Circa 95% of the current apps in the marketplace will work on the low-spec devices without any modifications.

  • stylinred

    doesnt it seem that nokia may be a little quick to be pushing out budget WP devices? with these setbacks (i guess you could call them that)

    • Zipa

      There aren’t really any setbacks when you look into it.

    • Jay Montano

      Maybe not quick enough.

  • I hope there will be no more devices bearing far lower specs than the Lumia 610 and ZTE Tania. If Windows Phone wants to cater to the low-end, mid-range, high-end, super-phone and tablet categories, that should be their base.

    • Viipottaja

      They may be able to a little lower still though even with these memory etc specs with a smaller, lower quality screen, 3pm cam, cheaper materials, 4GB or even less (or is it a requirement?) internal memory…

      • manu

        they should bring phones to compete with galaxy y and all.but an sd card slot is must.

  • tanush

    one more thing I have to know jay that does the windows phone suport songs $ vedio downloading from third party websites…?

  • manu

    all ready full of another load of restriction on top of it.
    Windows phone sucks.

  • According to Paul Thurrott, Plants versus Zombies is one app not working on 256 MB for now. 🙁

    But Microsoft is working with its author to repair it.

  • thomwhat

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha….oh man…MS fooling its customers 🙂

    • Mark

      Yeah… foolin’ them by telling them in advance what the restrictions will be.

      Did you even read the article?

  • Carbontubby

    Why do MS think they can do the Windows Basic/Home/Pro/Ultimate desktop nonsense on mobile? The restrictions on Tango seem purely arbitrary.

    Fragmenting Windows Phone will only serve to confuse and annoy users. I know fragmentation is common in the mobile tech industry but I had hoped MS would know better. It’ll be a big headache for developers to maintain a cut-down Tango and a full-featured Mango/Apollo version, and who knows how many different versions will be split off further down the road.

    • As a developer I hate it, but to be honest, it’s still much better than on Android.

      Android 5 is on its way and currently less than 1 % devices have Android 4 by now! In fact, you must develop for Android 2.x and it won’t change anytime soon…

    • Two more notes:

      1. 256 MB restrictions aren’t arbitrary. They have clear reasons.

      2. 256 MB support was very probably requested by Nokia.

    • ZiPA

      That is not fragmentation. Those are the exact same minimum HW requirements that were in place with WP7.0. It’s just that no manufacturer ever released a phone with less than 512 MB RAM.

      Also, the only thing that is not available is background agents, and since that is something that a user can switch off, you can’t really build your applications core functionality around that anyway. All other APIs are available, including the background worker-threads, so no, I definitely would not class this as fragmentation. Even iOS is more “fragmented” than WP.