At its MIX2011 conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft has given developers an in-depth preview of what the next major Windows Phone 7 update – codenamed Mango – will bring, while also explaining why the first update has been so slow in coming out.
When WP7 launched last November, the Redmond outfit said it would be bringing out regular updates to all phones – but this has not happened. The first update – codenamed NoDo – which brings copy-and-paste functionality, better Facebook integration and better Marketplace search was much-delayed and is still not available to all WP7 handsets phones. Joe Belifore, corporate vice president, Windows Phone Program Management, said the problem was not necessarily of its own making and that Microsoft had run into some problems with some of the new WP7 handsets – declining to name which, but since there are only a few manufacturers to choose from (HTC, LG and Samsung), it may not be too hard to guess. Belifore said the update procedure had now been overhauled and future updates would be delivered in a much more timely fashion – fingers crossed.
Speaking of future updates, Microsoft gave developers a glimpse of what Mango would bring to the party. Top of the list is multi-tasking, allowing users to listen to music while browsing the web or easily switching between open apps. Microsoft will also give developers more access to the hardware on WP7 handsets including the camera and motion sensor allowing for more apps to be created including augmented reality apps. Developers were given a glimpse of the type of app Mango will bring to WP7, including efforts from Spotify, Layar, Skype, Qantas, Amazon Shopping and Kik Messenger. "The next release of Windows Phone represents the evolution of our strategy for ensuring that developers are at the forefront of 'what's next' by investing in even richer customer experiences, a powerful application platform and a thriving ecosystem," said Belfiore.
While we know there are 13 000 apps currently available in the WP7 Marketplace, and that the average WP7 user downloads 12 apps per month, we still don’t really know how successful the platform is, as Microsoft is holding onto the sales figures for dear life. Whatever the current state of play with the platform, it is good to see Microsoft committing to developing the platform and with Gartner predicting it will be the second most popular mobile OS come 2015, we look forward to trying out the new functionality that Mango will bring later this year.