1. three_thoughts's Avatar
    What this means?
    Background tasks: Bluetooth signal strength, Chat message notification, Device connection change, Device use trigger, Gatt characteristic notification, Location, Push notification, Rfcomm connection, System event, Timer

    Apparently these are new features in 8.1. How are "chat message notification" and "push notification" different to what we have now? And most of all, does this mean push notifications from third party apps like whatsapp will actually become reliable and arrive on time in wp8.1?

    Last edited by palandri; 02-18-2014 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Title change
    02-18-2014 09:51 AM
  2. Nik Rolls's Avatar
    Currently a background task can only be triggered at an interval, usually around every 30 minutes. We have push notifications but they can only show a toast or update tiles if the app is closed; they can't launch a background task to do extra phone-side processing. It sounds as if this new feature allows background tasks to boot on demand in response to all these criteria, eg you could send a push notification and then have a background task boot up to process the data, or launch a background task when the device goes on charge to update a tile or record the charge factor in your battery monitor app, etc.

    I'm only assuming, and personally I think developers should use these sparingly as it has the risk of using a lot of battery if abused, but it's nice to have the flexibility.
    02-18-2014 02:25 PM
  3. a5cent's Avatar
    Actually, the above isn't quite correct. It applies only to time triggered periodic live tile updates. WP has long included a few APIs that support continuous background processing, like the background location, audio and file transfer APIs. What you've mentioned are features of that type. Some are new, some are newer versions of existing OS functionality. WP will allow us to control background processing for each of these individually (enable/disable). Certainly some of these are targeted at apps like WhatsApp, but it wont improve those apps automatically. Devs must update their apps to 8.1 to make use of these new APIs. To what affect remains to be seen.
    02-18-2014 02:56 PM
  4. Nik Rolls's Avatar
    I'm not sure I understand. How would you enable or disable things like bluetooth signal strength, device connection change, device use, and system events? Besides, some of them specifically mention 'trigger'.
    02-18-2014 03:17 PM
  5. three_thoughts's Avatar
    So is the reason that push notifications are often delayed on windows phone down to the OS or down to individual apps? Because it appears as though its something to do with the OS to me because it affects lots of apps (including major apps like whatsapp and Skype, so they can't all have been developed badly). And I was hoping that the work done on background tasks and presumably the whole notification system (one part of which being the notification centre) for wp8.1 would solve this issue. After all, a phone is above all a communications device so it's not much to expect that communication notifications arrive quickly.

    Delayed push notifications is also something I've seen on iOS but on android it seems to be fast and reliable so i'm wondering if it's to do with android allowing any background tasks and iOS and WP limiting them in some way?
    02-18-2014 04:09 PM
  6. Nik Rolls's Avatar
    No, messaging apps that have been correctly developed use push notifications which are instant. Any delays could be to do with your phone not maintaining connection or the app's server not pushing notifications to Microsoft quick enough. WhatsApp and Viber both use push notifications (in fact, you can even turn off their background tasks if you want and messages still come through). Skype also uses push. I never experience any delays on these apps. Though the fact that Viber and WhatsApp have background tasks as well may be a fallback in case push is not functioning properly, so you still get the message within 30 minutes if not instantly.

    Some messaging apps, or other services that either can't or choose not to run a server to handle push notifications, these will use background tasks which run approximately once every 30 minutes. This task will then connect to a web server and pull down the latest information, and then may update tiles or show toast notifications as a result. One easy way to tell if an app uses Push or not is to see if you have ever received a toast notification within a minute of someone sending a message/tweeting/etc; if yes then it's push, if it's usually within half an hour then it is using background tasks.
    02-18-2014 04:49 PM
  7. a5cent's Avatar
    A lot of things are involved. I don't know all the details either, but apparently everything you mentioned is involved and then some... the apps, the OS, often times also the servers run by the service providers and even MPNS. There isn't just one thing to point a finger at. Like I said, we will have to wait and see how this develops. As of right now, nobody can give you a simple thumbs up or down, but I am cautiously optimistic the issues you mentioned will improve over the coming months...
    02-18-2014 04:50 PM
  8. a5cent's Avatar
    I'm not sure I understand. How would you enable or disable things like bluetooth signal strength, device connection change, device use, and system events? Besides, some of them specifically mention 'trigger'.
    Yes, many are basically triggers. These processes continually monitor something in the background, like signal strength, and report changes to interested apps. What you can enable/disable is the monitoring process.
    02-18-2014 04:55 PM
  9. three_thoughts's Avatar
    Thanks for the replies!

    I doubt it's to do with my connection because I'm on Wifi pretty much all the time and one minute I get whatsapp messages instantly and then in a little while there will be a delay of between 5 and 30 minutes. Also this is quite a widely reported problem. What does it tell us that when you open the app, the messages will come through instantly? I had guessed that this meant the issue was something to do with how the OS communicates with MPNS rather than the specific app's (in this case whatsapp) servers? If you have the app open, I presume you are communicating directly with the app's server rather than via MPNS.

    Also I think delays are more likely to occur if you don't open the app for a long time (several hours) whereas they seem much more reliable if you open it often.

    I'm also quite optimistic it will get sorted. I know there was someone on the WP team who was quoted a while back as saying the notification system was "a mess" that they were working on so I really hope the whole thing has been overhauled and improved in wp8.1 rather than just the user facing aspects. Reliable whatsapp and Skype notifications and a notification centre are the only things I miss about android and I know that one of those is added in 8.1 and I hope the other is improved as well.
    02-18-2014 05:11 PM
  10. narv's Avatar
    Could these features support a device such as the Pebble smart watch (or any smart watch) that could see something, trigger the app to push data to the smart watch? Or am I looking too much into it?
    02-18-2014 07:52 PM
  11. Nik Rolls's Avatar
    Could these features support a device such as the Pebble smart watch (or any smart watch) that could see something, trigger the app to push data to the smart watch? Or am I looking too much into it?
    Going by my understanding, quite possibly. It would make sense on Microsoft's part considering the popularity of smart watches and the rumours that Microsoft was making their own one. Though I have been told my understanding was wrong earlier in this thread. Also a better move would be to expand the Bluetooth stack to support the profiles that other smart watches use, rather than restricting it to an app. So we will have to wait and see, I guess.
    02-18-2014 08:36 PM

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