Imagine Cup 2013

We came to the competition with a very simple application and then got to the World Wide Final. I did not expect that, but I believed we were worth that place in the top 3 because I believed the judges must have seen what we were trying to achieve: we were trying to make our phones handier and make life simpler; we did not try to just showcase technology. Then I arrived in Russia, super proud of our project. I prepared my presentation before all the judges, not following the scoring criteria, but everything we have imagined on the first day we started the project. Those might not be so innovative or mind-blowing to seize the first prize, but those were the true “value” we want to give people, and I believed those were also what we were all proud of. And I presented almost perfectly (in my opinion only, and comparing to my past presentations) without having to write any notes.

I knew we might not win because we focused more on providing people the best experience with every current technology available at the current time, not creating some futuristic tech like many other participating projects. But I also strongly believed that we could win, if we could make the judges saw what we saw: we did not make the technology or the only app using the technology, we made the app using the technology in the most efficient and thoughtful way.

That was how we won the competition. That was how Saint Petersburg became a new milestone of my life!

Windows Store Protocol to check for app updates

If you have used a Nokia Lumia phone, you may already see how Nokia forces the users to update their apps. They put the blank page with a background image and an Update button right after the splash screen (if there is one); tapping the button will get you to the app’s detail page in Windows Phone Store and you can update the app directly there. On the developer side, to do the same thing, you just have to use the API exposed through MarketplaceDetailTask to jump to that detail page.

The situation seems to be more complicated on Windows 8 with the Windows Store. Unlike the Windows Phone Store, going to the app’s detail page in Windows Store will not show you any update buttons. Instead, you will have to go to Settings charm of the Store, choose App updates and tap on Check for updates. How to do all these steps programmatically from your app (to help your users to quickly update the app)?

I had thought about showing a screen with screenshots telling people to do all the above steps by themselves, but it seemed to be too troublesome for the users. Then I saw an ads on Bing Sport app showing that there was an update in the Store, tapping on the ads jumped us directly to the Check for updates page, which is so nice and convenient! Therefore, I realized the Windows Store must already handle some special kinds of protocols or URL formats for that, and after some times trying, I figured out the magic words:


Basically, you will just have to call that URL by a Launcher and the Store will start checking for app’s updates immediately!

Update: I have also checked that URL in Windows 8.1 and can confirm that it still works in the new Store.