Checking for updates from inside a Windows Phone app

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28 Jul

This article explains "from first principles" how to check for app updates from inside an app. If you just want to use the results of this discussion see Application update prompt using Cimbalino Windows Phone Toolkit.

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Article Metadata
Tested with
SDK: Windows Phone 8.0 SDK
Devices(s): Nokia Lumia 920
Windows Phone 8
Created: PedroLamas (24 Jul 2013)
Last edited: hamishwillee (07 Nov 2013)



Windows Phone automatically checks when any apps need to be updated and notifies the user by adding an update count to the store tile (which is present by default on the Home screen). Therefore provided the user has occasional Internet connection keeping apps updated should be easy.

Unfortunately some users do not regularly update their apps - perhaps they haven't got a reliable Internet connection, maybe they removed the Store tile from the home screen, or possibly they simply ignore the notification. Whatever the reason, this makes things harder for developers: not only are they judging your app on its old functionality and performance, but you're stuck supporting older versions of the code code.

This article shows how you can detect whether the app has been updated, in order to prompt the user to update "in app". This prompting will often be effective for users who have chosen to defer updating.

Tip.pngTip: This article describes the functionality from first principles. If you just want to use the functionality described here then see Application update prompt using Cimbalino Windows Phone Toolkit

Note.pngNote: This is not just a "theoretical" consideration. I wrote this code because I was still getting crash reports for one of my most successful apps (Geosense) even after fixing the bug.

Finding out store information about current version

Wouldn’t it be nice to just get the app to notify the user that an update is available?

Keeping this in mind, I opened Fiddler on my laptop, set my phone to use it as a proxy server, opened Geosense info from the store, and this is the request I could see going to Microsoft servers: http://marketplaceedgeservice.windowsphone.com/v8/catalog/apps/7ca9cfea-1b92-4ca4-8559-269936d5361e?os=8.0.9903.0&cc=GB&oc=&lang=en-GB&hw=520170499&dm=RM-821_eu_euro1&oemId=NOKIA&moId=VOD-GB&cf=99-1

I can see in the above url the application ProductId (7ca9cfea-1b92-4ca4-8559-269936d5361e) the windows phone version (os=8.0.9903.0), the store territory (cc=GB), the language (lang=en-GB) and a bunch of other stuff related to the device brand, model and version.

The response is even more interesting, as it shows all the Store information about the app, including the latest available version and release date.

Given we are only interested in the version, after manually clearing up the response this is what we get:

<a:feed xmlns:a="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom" xmlns:os="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/" xmlns="http://schemas.zune.net/catalog/apps/2008/02">
<!-- other stuff -->
<!-- other stuff -->
<!-- other stuff -->
<!-- other stuff -->

Well, we now know how to get the Store information about a particular app, we know what gets returned and how to read it, so let’s put that all together!

Detecting the update in code

We will need the ProductID for the current running app, and for that we can just read it from the WMAppManifest.xml file like I shown in a previous article:

public static string GetManifestAttributeValue(string attributeName)
var xmlReaderSettings = new XmlReaderSettings
XmlResolver = new XmlXapResolver()
using (var xmlReader = XmlReader.Create("WMAppManifest.xml", xmlReaderSettings))
return xmlReader.GetAttribute(attributeName);

Given that there is no way in the current SDK to retrieve the Store territory, we will fallback to the CultureInfo.CurrentUICulture value for it and also for the language.

Here’s the complete async method to retrieve the latest version information from the Store:

private Task<Version> GetUpdatedVersion()
var cultureInfoName = CultureInfo.CurrentUICulture.Name;
var url = string.Format("http://marketplaceedgeservice.windowsphone.com/v8/catalog/apps/{0}?os={1}&cc={2}&oc=&lang={3}​",
cultureInfoName.Substring(cultureInfoName.Length - 2).ToUpperInvariant(),
var request = WebRequest.Create(url);
return Task.Factory.FromAsync(request.BeginGetResponse, result =>
var response = (HttpWebResponse)request.EndGetResponse(result);
if (response.StatusCode != HttpStatusCode.OK)
throw new WebException("Http Error: " + response.StatusCode);
using (var outputStream = response.GetResponseStream())
using (var reader = XmlReader.Create(outputStream))
var aNamespace = reader.LookupNamespace("a");
reader.ReadToFollowing("entry", aNamespace);
return new Version(reader.ReadElementContentAsString());
}, null);

All you now have to do is compare it to the active app version, like in this sample code:

private async void CheckForUpdatedVersion()
var currentVersion = new Version(GetManifestAttributeValue("Version"));
var updatedVersion = await GetUpdatedVersion();
if (updatedVersion > currentVersion
&& MessageBox.Show("Do you want to install the new version now?", "Update Available", MessageBoxButton.OKCancel) == MessageBoxResult.OK)
new MarketplaceDetailTask().Show();

At startup, just call CheckForUpdatedVersion() and it will check if a new version is available, and if so, show a confirmation message box to the user and open the Marketplace details for the updated app.

The Cimbalino alternative

If you’re using Cimbalino Windows Phone Toolkit, I’ve added the IMarketplaceInformationService that contains all the above logic to retrieve Store information for apps, with added bonus that will work not only for WP8 but also in WP7!

Instructions on how you can use this to notify the user when your app is ready to update are given in Application update prompt using Cimbalino Windows Phone Toolkit

For the time being, this new service is only available in the 3.1.0-rc version of the toolkit, so make sure to install the pre-release version!

Version Hint

Windows Phone: [[Category:Windows Phone]]
[[Category:Windows Phone 7.5]]
[[Category:Windows Phone 8]]

Nokia Asha: [[Category:Nokia Asha]]
[[Category:Nokia Asha Platform 1.0]]

Series 40: [[Category:Series 40]]
[[Category:Series 40 1st Edition]] [[Category:Series 40 2nd Edition]]
[[Category:Series 40 3rd Edition (initial release)]] [[Category:Series 40 3rd Edition FP1]] [[Category:Series 40 3rd Edition FP2]]
[[Category:Series 40 5th Edition (initial release)]] [[Category:Series 40 5th Edition FP1]]
[[Category:Series 40 6th Edition (initial release)]] [[Category:Series 40 6th Edition FP1]] [[Category:Series 40 Developer Platform 1.0]] [[Category:Series 40 Developer Platform 1.1]] [[Category:Series 40 Developer Platform 2.0]]

Symbian: [[Category:Symbian]]
[[Category:S60 1st Edition]] [[Category:S60 2nd Edition (initial release)]] [[Category:S60 2nd Edition FP1]] [[Category:S60 2nd Edition FP2]] [[Category:S60 2nd Edition FP3]]
[[Category:S60 3rd Edition (initial release)]] [[Category:S60 3rd Edition FP1]] [[Category:S60 3rd Edition FP2]]
[[Category:S60 5th Edition]]
[[Category:Symbian^3]] [[Category:Symbian Anna]] [[Category:Nokia Belle]]

This page was last modified on 7 November 2013, at 08:48.
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