Microsoft's Build 2016 developer conference is now less than a week away, and it promises to be quite an exciting event for those invested, or simply interested, in the company's products and platforms.
Today, Microsoft published the full list of keynotes and sessions that will take place at the conference, and it seems there may well be a few surprises in store.
One session at this year's event hints at some intriguing possibilities for Live Tiles, one of the most visible and familiar interface elements of its recent operating systems, including Windows 10. The description for that session - entitled What's New for Tiles and Toast Notifications, to be held on Friday, April 1 - reads:
Notifications are an essential tool for engaging with your customers on Windows. We are building on the foundation of Action Center to give developers greatly increased flexibility in Adaptive Toasts. We will introduce a powerful API that enables a new class of apps to plug into the Notification pipeline and provide innovative experiences for users. Live Tiles are evolving with two highly-requested surprises that you won't want to miss.
There's no further indication of exactly what these 'surprises' might be - but it's worth noting that Microsoft has been considering ways to improve Live Tiles for some time. As early as 2014 - not long after the release of Windows Phone 8.1 - it emerged that Microsoft was looking at implementing a 'hover' gesture for Live Tiles, as part of development efforts on its unreleased advanced flagship phone project, codenamed 'McLaren'.
In later refinements to that handset's 'Mixview' user interface, those elements came to be known as 'exploding Live Tiles'; a user would tap a corner of the tile, which would then 'burst' open a subset of tiles offering quick access shortcuts to common tasks. Functionally, this experimentation sounds remarkably similar to Apple's 3D Touch interactions on the iOS 9 homescreen - albeit with different input methods - and it appears to be an odd coincidence that Microsoft's earlier developments efforts were also referred to internally as '3D Touch'.
It's not clear if the new surprises to which Microsoft refers, with regards to the evolution of Live Tiles in its Build session notes, are at all related to those earlier efforts - but there's not long to wait until we get to find out for sure.
Neowin will be at Build 2016, and we'll also be providing you with live streams from the conference, helping you to stay fully informed and up-to-speed on all the big announcements and insights that will be revealed there next week. Stay tuned!