Secondary tiles overview (Windows Runtime apps)

Applies to Windows and Windows Phone

Secondary tiles enable users to promote specific content and deep links—a reference to a specific location inside of the pinning app—from Windows Store app apps onto the Start screen. Secondary tiles enable users to personalize their Start screen experience with friends, news sources, stock quotes, and other items important to them.

The option to create a secondary tile is seen most often in UI as the Pin to Start option. To pin content is to create a secondary tile for it. This option is often presented as a glyph on the app bar.

Selecting the secondary tile through a touch or a click launches into the parent app to reveal a focused experience centered on the pinned content or contact.

Only users can pin a secondary tile; apps cannot pin secondary tiles programmatically without user approval. Users also have explicit control over secondary tile removal, either through the Start screen or through the parent app.

Secondary tiles in relation to app tiles

Secondary tiles are associated with a single parent app. They are pinned to the Start screen to provide a user with a consistent and efficient way to launch directly into a frequently used area of the parent app. This can be either a general subsection of the parent app that contains frequently updated content or a deep link to a specific area in the app.

Examples of secondary tile scenarios include:

  • Weather updates for a specific city in a weather app
  • A summary of upcoming events in a calendar app
  • Status and updates from an important contact in a social app
  • Specific feeds in an RSS reader
  • A music playlist
  • A blog

Any frequently changing content that a user wants to monitor is a good candidate for a secondary tile. After the secondary tile is pinned, users can receive at-a-glance updates through the tile and use it to launch directly into the parent app.

Secondary tiles are similar to app tiles in many ways:

  • They use tile templates to determine the layout for notifications.
  • They must include a 150 x 150 pixel logo for the default tile content.
  • They can optionally use a 310 x 150 pixel wide logo for the default tile content.
  • They can show notifications and badges.
  • They can be rearranged on the Start screen.
  • They can be shown on the view of all apps, and on Start.
  • They are automatically deleted when the app is uninstalled.
  • They can be shown on the lock screen.

However, secondary tiles differ from app tiles in some noticeable ways:

  • Users can delete their secondary tiles at any time without deleting the parent app.
  • Secondary tiles can be created at run time. App tiles can be created only during installation.
  • A flyout prompts the user for confirmation before adding a secondary tile.
  • Windows can duplicate secondary tiles through the cloud when an app is acquired by a user on a second computer.
  • They cannot be programmatically added to the lock screen through a request to the user. The user must manually add the the secondary tile through the Personalize page in PC Settings.

Specific creation methods are provided for tile and badge updaters and push notification channels used with secondary tiles. These parallel the versions used with app tiles. For instance, CreateBadgeUpdaterForApplication vs. CreateBadgeUpdaterForSecondaryTile.

Using pinning to create secondary tiles

Developers can use the app bar to provide the option to pin and unpin content on the Start screen. Windows supplies pin glyphs (WinJS.UI.AppBarIcon.pin and WinJS.UI.AppBarIcon.unpin) to match the personality of the app bar, as well as an implementation of the necessary JavaScript code that the glyph should launch to accomplish its pinning or unpinning action. If there is a compelling scenario for not using the app bar, the provided implementations can then be launched by the app from elements other than the app bar. For more information, see WinJS.UI.AppBar.

Here is an overview of the actions required to create a secondary tile:

  1. The user invokes the pin command through the app, often through the Pin to Start command on the app bar.
  2. The app checks to ensure that the tile hasn't already been pinned.
  3. The app provides the information necessary to create a secondary tile, including a unique ID. Other information includes the tile's background color, text color, display name, notification capabilities, logo, and more. For more information, see Windows.UI.StartScreen.SecondaryTile.
  4. Windows displays a flyout that shows a preview of the tile, asking the user to confirm its creation.
  5. The user confirms and the secondary tile is added to the Start screen.
  6. The app sends any combination of local, scheduled, push, or pull notifications to the secondary tile. For more information, see Related topics at the bottom of this page.

The unpin flow, when provided by the developer, is similar to the pin flow:

  1. The user invokes the unpin command through an Unpin option in the app.
  2. The app provides the necessary information to remove a secondary tile.
  3. Windows displays a flyout that shows a preview of the tile to be removed, asking the user to confirm its removal. (Note, no confirmation flyout is shown when the tile is unpinned through the Start screen app bar.)
  4. The user confirms and the secondary tile is removed from the Start screen.

When the user unpins the tile through the Unpin command on the Start screen app bar, accessed by swiping or right-clicking the tile, the app is not contacted for removal information, the user is not asked for a confirmation, and the app is not notified that the tile is gone. Any additional cleanup action that the app would have taken in unpinning the tile must be performed by the app at its next launch, when it enumerates its secondary tiles to find added or deleted tiles.

Note  

The key points in those procedures are that the app must provide the information used to create or remove a secondary tile and that the user has the final choice in the action.

The app handles activation requests from Start for the secondary tile. This is accomplished through the standard activation mechanism used for app tiles. Secondary tiles cannot be activated through any mechanism except the Start screen and Apps.

The app is also responsible for the following:

  • Creating a unique ID for the secondary tile.
  • Initiating notifications that are sent to the secondary tile, either by setting up a polling Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), requesting a channel URI to push notifications to the secondary tile, sending a local notification, or setting a scheduled notification.
  • Exposing the pin and unpin commands appropriately.
  • Handling activation requests for the deep links that are exposed by the secondary tile.
  • Including the app bar and handling any command requests that are initiated through it.

Syncing a secondary tile across devices

Secondary tile creation and deletion can be synchronized (roamed) across a user's PCs and tablets. As of Windows 8.1, this is the default behavior as long as the user has enabled Start screen sync in the OneDrive system settings. However, a secondary tile can opt out of cross-device synchronization by setting its RoamingEnabled property to false.

  • Applies to Windows Phone

Start screen roaming, including secondary tiles, is not supported on Windows Phone 8.1.

Note  In Windows 8, the behavior was the opposite—the secondary tile had to opt into roaming by setting the CopyOnDeployment property. This property is deprecated as of Windows 8.1.

Related topics

Quickstart: Pinning a secondary tile
Guidelines and checklist for secondary tiles
Secondary tiles sample
How to activate an app
Adding app bars
Quickstart: Sending a tile update
How to request, create, and save a notification channel
How to set up tile polling
How to schedule a tile notification
How to position the secondary tile flyout
SecondaryTile class

 

 

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