May 14, 2014 11:00 am

Windows Phone 8.1 helps make it easier to focus on user needs

“Windows Phone 8.1 empowers me, as a developer, to focus on my users’ needs through a variety of powerful features.”

Paras Wadehra is a San Francisco-based developer and Microsoft MVP. He has been using Windows Phone 8.1 for the last several weeks and is looking forward to building all of his apps on the platform. Wadehra, a Mobility Architect at Brillio, recently accrued a million downloads for his apps on Windows, and he believes that Windows’ newest version will help him reach even more users. He’s using Windows Phone 8.1 to add new features to his apps, and he agreed to tell us about the exciting things he is working on in this interview.

What do you like best about the Windows Phone 8.1 release?

“New Windows Phone 8.1 features are helping me to innovate.”

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   Events for Me screenshot

As a developer and as an architect, my time is important, and being able to write my app once and publish it for the phone, tablet, and various client form factors saves me time. Windows 8.1’s code convergence gives me that power. Because Windows and Windows Phone share many of the same APIs, I can write my apps faster.

In my day job, I use the Xamarin toolset to implement our apps on both iOS and Android. Developing for Windows is easier. I know developers who write native apps for various platforms in their respective languages, and they don’t do it by choice but because they have to. But with the 8.1 release, I love being able to consistently develop in C# and use all of Visual Studio’s rich features. I’ve been doing just that, extending my Events For Me app with new features from Windows 8.1. My app is a full-featured client for Eventbrite. Users can access a beautiful interface to view their existing tickets and corresponding QR codes for easy check-in. Users can also search for events based on location and date and buy tickets. New Windows Phone 8.1 features are helping me to innovate.

You recently accrued one million downloads for your apps. What makes your apps successful, and how specifically do you plan to leverage Windows Phone 8.1 to help you innovate?

“With Windows Phone 8.1, I can attach relevancy data to a ticket so that the Wallet will promote the event based on the user’s current location or other data.”

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    Dictionary screenshot

I build only apps that I’d like to use myself—and that either don’t exist or that I can improve upon. For example, when I realized that I could use an app to manage my Eventbrite tickets and wasn’t able to find one in the store, I created Events For Me.

I strive to improve the user experience; for instance, I make sure that my apps open immediately to the main functionality instead of requiring the user to navigate multiple menus. Users have to enjoy using an app, or they’ll switch. If they like an app, they’ll rate it highly and refer it to others. I think Windows Phone 8.1 empowers me, as a developer, to focus on my users’ needs through a variety of powerful features.

Specifically, I plan to use the Geofencing feature in Events For Me to show the user events near him/her without requiring the user to search manually. Events For Me currently uses the Windows Phone 8 Wallet to store users’ tickets. With Windows Phone 8.1, I can attach relevancy data to a ticket so that the Wallet will promote the event based on the user’s current location or other data. And, I’ll use the Action Center to send messages to users, creating one more touch-point.

I plan to use different new features in my other apps. I’ll use the screen recorder feature in SketchPad to record images and/or videos of users’ sketches at different periods of time so users can later view time-lapse representations of their creations. People learning to draw will benefit from seeing their creation in process. And, I’ll use native large text support in Dictionary, replacing my custom build of this feature within the app.

I also want to add that there is a very strong community around Windows Phone that helps each other in time of need. I’ve taken an active role and I help out other developers and I receive valuable help as well. The community has definitely contributed to my success.

Your advice to developers?

“You should be on Windows Phone 8.1. Don’t wait. Your time is now.”

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   Sketchpad screenshot

I advise developers to focus on their users. Invite your users to contact you with feedback and suggestions, and then plan your roadmap accordingly. Happy customers will help you market your app to their network. And if you made it till here, then you already know that you should be on Windows Phone 8.1. Don’t wait. Your time is now.

Follow me on Twitter @ParasWadehra and join me on my blog.

Wadehra’s apps can be found on the US Store.

Updated November 7, 2014 11:31 pm

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