Build 2014
Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft announced a lot of new features coming to Windows Phone 8.1 in their Build 2014 Conference. Many of the features are highlighted in the mainstream Microsoft websites, including Neowin and WPCentral. So, I won’t reiterate what’s being said there because they are doing a fantastic job in covering the big stuff. What I want to focus on are the little things that are coming to Windows Phone 8.1. Things that are not well known around the web. So let’s start with the Share charm. Yes, Windows Phone 8.1 now brings the same Share charm found on Windows 8.

Here’s what Microsoft announced at one of the sessions of the Build Conference (Starts at the 48:50 mark on this video):

“In Windows Phone 8.1, we’re introducing the ability to share data between the applications. Those familiar with Windows 8.0 and 8.1, this is the share contract. This is Share Contract in Windows Phone.”

Microsoft also notes that they had to make certain modifications to make the Share Contract (aka Charm) work well on devices with 512 MB of RAM, such as the Nokia Lumia 520:

“We thought about how we’d implement this. If we blindly take the share contract to Windows Phone, it wouldn’t work on 512 MB Phones…So we gone back to folks who helped out on Windows…so it scales from 512 MB phones to all the way through Windows.”

If you are wondering, no, the actual Charms “bar” is not coming to Windows Phone, only the share charm is:

“So one of the things I get asked initially is ‘oh God, do we have the Charms bar in Windows Phone?’ And no we don’t have the Charms bar in Windows Phone…And the reality is that most of you wanted a button that says “Share”; so, there’s no system gesture on that. What there is is system UI that shows you the list of applications you can share to also orders it by the application you use the most.”

The Share Charm was introduced in Windows 8. It is part of the Windows 8’s Charms “bar”. Essentially, the Share Charm makes use of the Share Contract in Windows 8 and 8.1. In a Share Contract, apps can designate themselves as capable of receiving certain types of content, like images or text. Apps can also designate themselves as capable of sending certain types of content. So, when you are in an app, and you want to share a content from the app, the app is acting as the sender and you are given a list of apps that designated themselves as being able to receive the type of content you are trying to share. For example, if you are on Internet Explorer, you can share a link to the page by invoking the Share Charm. You are given a list of apps that can accept the web link, apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Mail. Essentially, the apps doesn’t have to know about other apps. It just sends or receives content and Windows 8 takes care of the rest.

Finally, we can have a flexible model for sharing to apps, just like you can on Android, and, in a very limited fashion, iOS. The great thing is that now, you can share content with a flexible selection of apps. It means, soon you may be able to send content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, Evernote, and more.

Source: Microsoft (48:50)