Microsoft Research explores context-based app pre-fetching for Windows Phone

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If your mobile apps takes a few seconds too long to start, imagine if your Windows Phone could predict what app you’re about to use and intelligently cache it in the background so it starts instantly when you want to use it. A team at Microsoft Research’s Mobile Computing Research Center have not only thought of this but already have a small demo to show off.

To be presented at the MobiSys 2012 conference in June, the research dubbed “FALCON” is part of a broader Microsoft Research project called “Context Data OS (ConDOS)” which aims to enhance mobile operating systems by integrating and responding to context.

Falcon is one example of this, integrating location and time context to algorithmically anticipate which app the user might want to launch where and when respectively. The video above also demonstrates context from WiFi networks. One of the researchers, Tingxin Yan, describe it as

A context-aware mobile app preloading component for mobile OS. Based on intensive data analysis of app usage across multiple mobile users, FALCON presents a decision engine which exploits temporal and spacial characters of user behaviour to pre-load apps ahead of time, thereby improves the responsiveness of smartphones.

As an applied research group, the Mobile Computer Research Center have already demonstrated by taking their learnings to product like the touch keyboard improvements to Windows Phone. It’s very possible intelligent app pre-caching will make its way to a future of Windows Phone as well.

16 insightful thoughts

  1. I’m wondering what they have to research here. Didn’t they implement similar technologies in Windows 7?

    1. While yes, Windows 7 had some of this, it did not have any location awareness, or used actual user context like dates in a calendar, etc..

      So this is a similar idea, but much more context (and especially location) aware.

      1. Energy is also a key factor that Falcon considers. The basic idea is that there is a limited energy budget with which to use for precaching. The energy constraint means that we have to be very precise on what we choose to predict in order to to best increase speed for the user. So both energy and location are fundamental to mobile and Falcon.

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