Windows Phone Wednesday: Network Dashboard

When Windows Phone was first available I noticed amongst the comments that people were saying how the network settings were buried compared to other mobile operating systems. I noticed this too as someone coming from Windows Mobile since on that OS you could tap the Wi-Fi symbol and this provided a way to jump into the settings.

Now while I didn’t find this a big deal I can understand the frustration. When Microsoft released the “Mango” update for Windows Phone they included an API that developers could use to jump to some of these settings and one such application is Network Dashboard. Another example is the Windows Phone Wednesday: Nokia Play To application I covered last week where you can jump to the Wi-Fi settings

When you open the app the main screen is the dashboard and this shows four animated tiles; Wi-Fi, Mobile Data, Bluetooth and Airplane Mode.  To pin one of these tiles to your start screen you just tap and hold then select “pin to start” when you can move the tile where you want.  Now when you press the tile from the start screen you will go directly to the appropriate setting. In the case of Wi-Fi and Mobile Data they also act as live tiles to indicate their status.

On the “app bar” is an information button and another for settings.  This allows you to turn on the live tiles and also the background agent which is used to keep the live tile in sync with the actual status. This is required in case you switch off the appropriate wireless component from another entry point (settings or another application). Swiping left in the settings takes you to different tile designs but best of all are the reminders.

Now doing all you can to prolong battery life on a mobile phone is important and so you don’t want any wireless features left on that you don’t need. The problem here is that if the Wi-Fi is off while the phone is charging overnight then it can’t take advantage of synchronising wirelessly with the Zune desktop software. Using the reminders feature of Network Dashboard allows you to be reminded to turn on Wi-Fi at an appropriate time (a nice addition is that the reminder doesn’t activate if the feature is already active).

While this post is short I use this application daily and although it isn’t free it does offer a trial version that isn’t time limited. The “free” version doesn’t allow customisation of the tiles or the setting of reminders so if you want those extras the cost is 79p.

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