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November 4, 2010
Windows Phone Developer Blog

Integrating Your App into the Music + Videos Hub

The Music + Videos hub is the destination for media on Windows Phone 7. Phone users will go there not only to see all of their media content in one place, but because it provides instant access to the content that is most relevant. Specifically we know that the most common things a user wants to do are resume something they were playing, get to the content that they play most often, and find content that they have just added to their phone. The Music + Videos hub puts content in these 3 categories front and center while also aggregating media apps and the local media library in a single rich experience, providing the best possible entry point for consuming media on the phone.

The whole idea of “hubs” which provide ONE PLACE for users to see all their content – from all providers—relies on 3rd party applications participating in this integration. Our users will expect it! They will look for their content in the Music + Videos hub, and we don’t want your application to be left out. Besides being great for end users, the Music + Videos hub provides a great deal of value to third party applications: it requires NO proactive user-customization, so your content can get premier discoverability and convenience. So… if you have an application that provides playback of music or video content, please implement integration with the Music + Videos hub. It’s an important part of what Window Phone 7 is about. A full explanation of how to integrate your app as well as code samples can be found on MSDN: How to: Integrate with the Music and Videos Hub for Windows Phone

There are four key integration points that your application can take advantage of in the Music and Videos experience.

1. Populating the “now playing” token. This token is the most prominent real estate in the Music + Videos hub and it displays a thumbnail of whatever content is currently paused or was last played. Tapping on this token will either resume or initiate playback of the content displayed which means that by setting the “now playing” token you are not only promoting your content, you are creating an additional entry point to your application’s playback experience. Update the “now playing” token by setting the MediaHistory.Instance.NowPlaying property.


2. ”History” tiles. Content that has been played most recently on the phone can be displayed in a history tile by calling the MediaHistory.Instance.WriteRecentPlay API. Just like the now playing token, history tiles display thumbnails and can be tapped to launch playback of the content they contain. One very important point—these tiles should only be used to start playback, and SHOULD NOT be used as ‘generic launch points’ into your application. It’s OK if your app is launched and your UI is displayed—the important thing is that the music or video start with a single tap, so the experience is efficient and consistent. This is yet another great opportunity to elevate the visibility of content from your application as well as provide more entry points to your experience.

3. ”New” tiles. “New” tiles have the same functionality as “history” tiles but they are occupied by content that has been recently added to the phone. A very typical use of “new” is to promote a piece of content that has been recently downloaded to the phone. However, these tokens can also be used for things like newly created radio stations or playlists. The same requirement for initiating playback on tile-touch applies here.

4. The Marquee. Third party applications that call one or more of the aforementioned APIs will automatically appear in the “marquee” list inside the hub, in addition to appearing in the main applications list. This makes it easier to find and access these applications as well as making them a part of the core media experience. This happens during the application submission and certification process where we detect that your application calls the MediaHistory and MediaHistoryItem APIs and change the application manifest to reflect that it is a media app by setting the HubType attribute. You can set this yourself prior to submission for testing purposes only. For more information on the requirements for a marquee application, see the Windows Phone 7 Application Certification .

Tile guidelines. Last – because the Music + Videos hub aggregates content from many different sources, it’s important that you think about visual tile design which will distinguish your service from others. What this means will vary based on your service. Keep in mind that, for example, the user will have generic album art shown in that same list for their actual albums. If you have a radio station that just happens to be playing a song from an album, it should look visually distinct in the tile from the actual full album. Consider using tiles that show your brand and artwork for the content.

Because the Music + Videos hub is content centric, the amount of real estate that each application gets is based on usage which means the more your app gets used, the more prominent your content will be. For customers who use your application regularly, the Music + Videos hub will become filled with your content and therefore afford you an excellent promotional and convenience opportunity, provided you have taken full advantage of the integration opportunities. If you are creating a media related application for Windows Phone 7, integration with the Music + Videos hub is the best way to ensure optimal usage and visibility of your application!