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Windows Phone 7 Programming Model : Device Information

11/30/2012 6:27:11 PM
Developers need to understand the state of a device in order to provide the best experience for end users, such as letting the user know when a large download is about to begin and asking if the user would like to switch to a wireless or Ethernet connection via USB.

In this section, we cover the different pieces of device status and information that are available via the Windows Phone 7 APIs, including User Identifiers, Device Identifiers, Network Status, and Device capabilities. 

Most of the code for device information is simply a matter of displaying string-based properties so the only code listed in this section is for network availability info below. Otherwise, please refer to the DeviceInfo project in the source code for additional detail. The next subsection starts with user and device identification first.

1. Identifying Unique Users

There is a properties class for user information available in this release of Windows Phone 7, which is contained in the Microsoft.Phone.Info.dll. It supports exactly one value, Anonymous Identifier ANID, which can be used to identify the user. Here is the full namespace, class, and method calls to obtain a user identifier:


How unique is this ID? It identifies the user with the same value, even if the user owns multiple phones. This value is persisted across reboots. Even if you factory-reset the phone, but configure it with the same Live ID, you will get the same value for the ANID property.


The ANID property returns an empty string in the emulator.

Using this property requires the user identity capability and the ID_CAP_IDENTITY_DEVICE entry in the Capabilities section of WMAppManifest.xml for the application. If an application uses this class, the user will be alerted that the application requires this capability in the Windows Phone marketplace. You should only use this capability if your application absolutely needs it, and if it provides direct benefit to the user in some fashion. For example, if it makes it possible to store and retrieve from the cloud settings and data tied to the ID. Developers should mention the benefit in the application description; otherwise, users may be less inclined to download your application.

2. Device Information

There is a separate properties class for device information in Microsoft.Phone.Info.dll called DeviceExtendedProperties. It provides the ability to uniquely identify a device. Unlike the UserExtendedProperties class, the DeviceExtendedProperties class supports more than one value. The method call is the same as for the user property:


Table 1 lists the possible values that can be passed into the above method calls.

Table 1. Possible DeviceExtendedProperites Values
DeviceManufacturerThe name of the manufacturer of the device. A different value may be used across different devices from the same manufacturer, or it may be empty.
DeviceNameThe name of the device. There are no rules enforced on naming and it may be empty.
DeviceUniqueIDUniquely identify the device.
DeviceFirmwareVersionThe device manufacture's firmware version, which is different from the OS version. This value may be empty. It is recommended that the value be parsed as a System.Version structure, but it is not mandatory.
DeviceHardwareVersionThe device manufacture's hardware version running on the device. This value may be empty. It is recommended that the value be parsed as a System.Version structure, but it is not mandatory.
DeviceTotalMemoryDevice's physical RAM size in bytes. It will be less than the actual amount of device memory. Most devices currently shipping have either 256MB or 512MB bytes of RAM.
ApplicationCurrentMemoryUsageThe running application's current memory usage in bytes. Developers need to track this value closely.
ApplicationPeakMemoryUsageThe running application's peak memory usage in bytes, which is another item that developers need to track closely.

The last two memory reporting items are very important to track. 

Example 1. Sample Tick Event to Record Debug Info
void DebugMemoryInfo_Tick(object sender, EventArgs e)
      long deviceTotalMemory =
      long applicationCurrentMemoryUsage =
      long applicationPeakMemoryUsage =

      System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("--> " +
      System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("--> Device Total : " +
        deviceTotalMemory.ToString("#,#", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture));
      System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("--> App Current : " +
        applicationCurrentMemoryUsage. ToString("#,#", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture));
      System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("--> App Peak : " +
        applicationPeakMemoryUsage. ToString("#,#", CultureInfo.InvariantCulture));


Certification requirements dictate that memory usage remain under 90MB, because the OS will shut down applications that are memory hogs. Applications can temporarily go over 90MB and not fail certification in some cases, such as if the application is transitioning pages and one page is going out of memory and another is loading data structures for display. In general, with memory constrained-devices, it is important to efficiently allocate memory to maximize performance. This is true for any mobile device application, regardless of the operating system, and it is something that makes mobile development a fun challenge: squeezing out every little bit of performance possible!

In Table 1 the DeviceUniqueID value will uniquely identify a device across all installed applications, even if the phone is updated with a new operating system version. This ID should not be used to identify users, because it is tied to the device, not the user


Accessing DeviceUniqueID in the emulator returns false for TryGetValue.

If your application can use the DeviceUniqueID in a way that benefits the user, you should use it; be sure, however, to mention why you use it in the application description, so that the user understands the benefit. Otherwise, cautious users may shy away of downloading your application.

3. System Environment Information

The System.Environment class provides the following information on the current environment via its properties:

  • CurrentDirectory.

  • HasShutdownStarted.

  • OSVersion (includes and Platform and Version properties. The Version has additional properties of Build, Major, Minor, and Revision).

  • TickCount (Since last reboot).

  • Version. (CLR Version).

The next section starts with a very important topic when you are building mobile applications that depend on data in the cloud: current network status.

4. Network Status

Mobile applications must be thoughtful in using phone resources, such as data connectivity, and offer the user information when using the data connection. The Windows Phone 7 namespace Microsoft.Phone.Net.NetworkInformation provides the NetworkInterface object with the following two useful static members:

  • NetworkInterface .GetIsNetworkAvailable method

  • NetworkInterface .NetworkInterfaceType property

The GetIsNetworkAvailable method returns true or false. The NetworkInterface property stores a value from the Microsoft.Phone.Net.NetworkInformation.NetworkInterfaceType enumeration. Table 2 lists the common values in which most developers will be interested. You can find the full list at



Table 2. NetworkInterfaceType Enumeration Common Values
Enumeration ValueDescription
NoneNo interface exists to provide access to the Internet.
EthernetThe network interface is of type Ethernet. When connected via Zune and the PC, this is the value that is returned.
MobileBroadbandGSMThis is the value returned when connected over a wireless GSM network. (AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S. and most of the world.)
MobileBraodbandCdmaThis is the value returned when connected over a wireless CDMA network. (Verizon and Sprint in the U.S. and other regions of the world.)
Wireless80211The network interface is a wireless LAN connection.

One item to note is that, when connected to the PC without Zune running, the network connection will return either MobileBroadband or Wirless80211 if a connection is available over those protocols. Zune must be running when connected to the PC in order to have an Ethernet connection.

You may be tempted to poll network status on a background thread, but that would not be battery efficient. Instead, the code can subscribe to the System.Net.NetworkInformation.NetworkChange.NetworkAddressChanged static event. The System.Net.NetworkInformation namespace also includes a NetworkInterface class, so you will need to disambiguate namespaces.

In the DeviceInfo project, we add two TextBlock controls and two TextBox controls to store network availability and connection type, storing network availability status in the NetworkAvailableTextbox control, and network connection type in the NetworkConnectionTextbox control. Listing 2 has the code from the DeviceInfo project that performs network detection.

Example 2. Network Detection Method
#region Network Status Check
private void SetupNetworkStatusCheck()
  NetworkChange.NetworkAddressChanged +=
    new NetworkAddressChangedEventHandler
  //Initialize values
  NetworkAvailableTextBlock.Text =
  NetworkConnectionTextBlock.Text =

void NetworkChange_NetworkAddressChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
  NetworkAvailableTextBlock.Text =
  NetworkConnectionTextBlock.Text =

This code requires the following two using statements for these namespaces:

using System.Net.NetworkInformation;
using PhoneNetworkApi = Microsoft.Phone.Net.NetworkInformation;

The code uses a namespace alias to disambiguate between the two namespaces for the NetworkInterface class that is present in both namespaces, though the Phone version includes the NetworkInterfaceType property. Figure 1 shows the UI displaying device and network info that we have covered in the previous sections.

Figure 1. Windows Phone 7 device information and network status

5. System Tray

The system tray appears at the top of the screen in portrait mode. Figure 2 is a clip from the Windows Phone 7 Design Template file named StatusBar_PSD.psd, which shows possible status information.

Figure 2. Windows Phone 7 system tray indicators

The Windows Phone 7 development guidelines recommend leaving the System Tray visible within applications, because it shows useful information without having to force the user to exit the application. The system tray does take up a little bit of screen real estate, so for games and media players, it makes sense to disable the System Tray.

The system tray can be disabled on a page-by-page basis by editing the phone:PhoneApplicationPage element and setting shell:SystemTray.IsVisible to False.

This concludes our discussion of device information. Next up is application data persistence using isolated storage on Windows Phone 7.

6. Marketplace Status and Trial Mode

Windows Phone 7 supports building a single application that includes both trial and full functionality. The Microsoft.Phone.Marketplace.LicenseInformation class provides has one method named IsTrial() that the application can use to determine if the application has been fully purchased or is in trial mode.

As a developer, you get to determine what is the right trial experience for your application. For a game, it might be a certain number of tries or just the first level. For an application, it might be filtering to a subset of information, display advertising, or lack of personalization.

Application developers in Silverlight can use the MarketplaceDetailTask class to display the purchase experience. The MarketplaceDetailTask is discussed below in the Tasks section covering launchers and choosers.

For XNA Game Studio developers, the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.GamerServices.Guide class has a method named IsTrialMode to get current license information. Developers call Guide.ShowMarketplace to display the purchase experience. The Guide.SimulateTrialMode property allows developer to test their game under trial mode conditions.

Trial mode is a great way to encourage end users to try out your application, enjoy it, and purchase the full version. If you plan to sell your application, implement and test trial mode.

Silverlight developers may be wondering how they can simulate trial mode. The good news is that Silverlight developers can also use the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.GamerServices.Guide class and the SimulateTrialMode property. Set it to true to permit testing trial mode functionality.

When testing trial mode by setting SimulateTrialMode to true, a call to Guide.IsTrialMode returns the current value of SimulateTrialMode. Calling Guide.ShowMarketplace simulates making a purchase.

You must set SimulateTrialMode to false in release code. Place the code that sets it to true in #if DEBUG to ensure it is not available in a released application submitted to Marketplace.

In this section, we covered how to identify users, the device, network status, and application trial mode status for Windows Phone 7. In the next section, we move to the next major topic of settings and data storage in isolated storage.

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