WinPhan Tip by Mark Tepper: Live Tiles Gone Wild…How You Can Fix

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Live Tiles gone wild..

 

According to several forums and Windows Phone related websites, there’s quite a lot of users out there who have faced issues with their live tiles not updating any more or at least not as often as they should.
Even though it’s by far not as common as it was with Windows Phone 7 pre Mango, it definitely occurs more often than it should…and with “than it should” I mean exactly zero!

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A system that offers no notification center and completely relies on their tiles to deliver information to the end-user, it’s crucial that it just works. While it does for most of us, unfortunately it does not for all of us.

 

Common solution

Should you have ever faced this issue, you will certainly have turned to either a forum like those on WPCentral or XDA Developers, or contacted @WinPhoneSupport on Twitter. The latter do a great job, but you will most likely have the same thing everywhere:

I’m sorry, but you will have to perform a hard reset (factory reset) to resolve his issue.

Let’s be honest here. If Windows Phone would offer a better backup solution or at least game/app devs would make use of the cloud to store their settings/game saves, performing a hard reset wouldn’t be much of a deal. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much the opposite. Setting up a Windows Phone back from scratch can take some time, especially if you’ve been using your device for a long while. Not to mention that you lose all your game progress, should you happen to be a gamer that is.

 

Investigating the mystery..


I experienced the issue that live tiles completely stopped working two times so far on my Nokia Lumia 920. In both cases I didn’t even bother to look up an answer in tech forums or ask WinPhoneSupport as I knew the answer to my problem anyways. And a hard reset was what I wanted to avoid at all cost. So I started digging a bit deeper and tried to analyze what was actually going on.

The first and most obvious thing I noticed was that actually only those apps who utilize a background agent to update their live tile stopped doing their job. Every single tile that was updated through push services remained functional.

So the next step was of course to check if these background agents were still active or had been disabled for some reason. Since I know that Windows Phone automatically disables background agents for apps that haven’t been used for 2 weeks and because I regularly use every single app I have pinned to my homescreen, I expected all background agents to be actively running. And indeed they were.

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Pic via: WP Central

First solution (the quick way)

What I did then resolved the issue for me when I faced it for the first time:

I disabled every single actively running background agent. And I did not tick the check box to re-enable the background agent upon app launch. To make sure this configuration change would take immediate effect, I rebooted my phone before I actually went back to the system settings and enabled every agent I previously had disabled. In order to initiate synchronization with their services, I launched every single app which I had tinkered with in the system settings. If an app had live tile specific options, I went there, changed something back and forth and saved that.

This procedure brought all my malfunctioning tiles back to life.

 

Second solution (the more-time-consuming-but-still-quicker-than-a-hard-reset way)


When I encountered the same problem for the second time, I performed the same steps as described above. Unfortunately it didn’t work this time. Instead of throwing the towel, I decided to dig a little deeper than I had previously done. It seemed that the issue can be caused by a single app. Windows Phone allows only a certain amount of actively running background agents. You may have seen a specific warning when you’re trying to enable a background task for an app that would exceed WP’s limit. Unfortunately it appears that if you acknowledge the warning instead of going to the settings and disable at least one agent, WP accepts the new one, which then starts causing live tiles to stop updating even though their background agents remain active.

If you’re anything like me, you will have a hard time keeping track of the apps you have most recently installed and hence will most likely be unable to find out which particular app caused the issue. As a matter of fact, I doubt that even if you knew which app was actually responsible for the mess, disabling or even uninstalling it wouldn’t help. So here’s what to do if solution #1 did not help you:

Head over to your system settings and check which apps are currently running background tasks. They appear white in the list, whereas inactive agents are shown gray. Uninstall every single one of these apps and reboot your phone. Install all of them again afterwards and set them up the way you did before. Maybe you even come across some apps you choose not to install anymore since you barely ever use them. The fewer agents you have running, the lesser is the chance for messing it up again.

After performing these – admittedly a little more time-consuming – steps, all my apps and tiles went back to normal. I specifically watched their update cycles (for apps like Lock Buster, Battery and Amazing Weather HD) for a certain amount of time. And I can confirm that they’re working again as if nothing had ever happened.

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Conclusion


Being a WinPhan, I love live tiles. I often catch myself marveling at their beautiful animations and/or designs. I love the information some of them provide me without even having to launch the according app. But Microsoft still has a lot of work to do. Like I’ve said at the very beginning of this editorial, Windows Phone lacks a notification center. And as a system being completely dependent on live tiles, they better work!

 

Have you ever had issues with your tiles not updating correctly? Have you found other way to resolve these issues? Share your knowledge please. J

Thanks Mark, for taking the time to write and share this great WinPhan resource with us! Open-mouthed smile

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Proud husband, father, and Windows Phone Evangelist! I dedicate most of my time to promoting the ever beautiful Windows Phone and managing the enthusiastic #WinPhan community I founded. Windows+Phone+Fan=WinPhan!

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