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Run Windows Phone application under lock screen

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This article demonstrates how to run an application under lock screen on Windows Phone.

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Article Metadata
Code ExampleTested with
Devices(s): Nokia Lumia 800, 820
CompatibilityPlatform Security
Signing Required: Self-Signed
Created: somnathbanik (12 Feb 2015)
Last edited: hamishwillee (20 Jul 2013)



Many a times I've faced problems while trying to perform some application activities under lock screen i.e. when the lock screen is active. As soon as the lock screen is active, the application goes into a dormant/tombstone mode and thus the application stops running. So, for example, while playing a song when the application goes under lock screen, the song stops playing. There is a technique called Fast Application Switching (FAS) which can be used to resume the song when the application comes back to the foreground. However, in this article we will see how we can play the song when the application is in background without using FAS or any background agent.


Let’s create an empty Windows Phone Project

  • Launch Visual Studio
  • Click on File
  • New Project
  • Select Windows Phone Application (Visual C# Template)
  • Add Name and Location of the project
  • Click OK to create the project.

Once the project is created, we add a MediaElement and set its Source property to a media file. A ToggleSwitch is being added from Windows Phone Toolkit which is used to alter the application state of running. For more confirmation we have added a TextBlock which notifies when the application returns back from lock screen.

<Grid x:Name="ContentPanel" Grid.Row="1" Margin="12,0,12,0">
<TextBlock Height="41" FontSize="25" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="12,24,0,0" Name="textBlock1" Text="Run application under lock screen" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="383" />
<toolkit:ToggleSwitch x:Name="FluxToggle"
<Button Content="Play" Height="82" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="88,388,0,0" Name="button1" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="277" Click="button1_Click" />
<MediaElement AutoPlay="False" Source="/Audio/Song.mp3" Height="0" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="151,152,0,0" Name="mediaElement1" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="0" />
<TextBlock FontFamily="Segoe WP" FontSize="31" Height="51" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="12,307,0,0" Name="textBlockStatus" Text="" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="438" />

As mentioned earlier, the Windows Phone application goes to dormant/tombstone mode when the phone screen is locked. This behavior can be altered by changing the properties UserIdleDetectionMode and ApplicationIdleDetectionMode of PhoneApplicationService class. By default UserIdleDetectionMode and ApplicationIdleDetectionMode are set to Enable, which allows the service to lock the phone when the user is idle and these deactivate the application when the phone is locked.

As shown below, we have used ApplicationIdleDetectionMode in ToggleSwitch, which when set to Disable doesn't deactivate the application when the phone is locked.

private void ToggleSwitch_Checked(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
MessageBox.Show("The application will run under lock screen!");
PhoneApplicationService.Current.ApplicationIdleDetectionMode = IdleDetectionMode.Disabled;
PhoneApplicationFrame rootFrame = App.Current.RootVisual as PhoneApplicationFrame;
if (rootFrame != null)
rootFrame.Obscured += new EventHandler<ObscuredEventArgs>(rootFrame_Obscured);
rootFrame.Unobscured += new EventHandler(rootFrame_Unobscured);

Thus, the application continues to run even when the lock screen is activated.

Things to remember

Once ApplicationIdleDetectionMode is Disabled, it cannot be Enabled until the application is re-launched. If you try to enable it, it will throw an exception. To handle the locking and unlocking state of the device we can call the Obscured and Unobscured event handler of RootFrame. Obscured will be called when the phone is getting locked. Here we should use minimum CPU, less battery consumption etc. and Unobscured gets called when the phone is getting unlocked. This is the stage when we can resume all the states of the application.


The above code is pretty simple but it should pass the Marketplace Application Certification as mentioned in section 6.3. It states that an application running under a locked screen must take user’s permission first to be able to change the settings from application user interface.

Source Code

The full source code of the example is available here:

This page was last modified on 20 July 2013, at 04:23.
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