Check out our Hands-On with Windows Phone 7 Mango
At a press conference today in New York, Microsoft announced details of the long awaited Windows Phone Mango release, which will be rolling out some time at the beginning of autumn with 500 new features.
While 500 new features make it sound like a completely new OS, a lot of the tweaks won’t be visible to end users. As well as announcing the roll out of the new version of Windows Phone, Microsoft confirmed that LG, Samsung and HTC would be all bringing out new handsets running the Mango update and that Acer, Fujitsu and ZTE will be releasing their first Windows Phone handsets to coincide with the update. Finally Microsoft confirmed that Mango would be the flavour of the OS which will appear on the first Nokia handsets running Windows Phone. A Beta SDK of the new Windows Phone free tools will be available within 24 hours, we're promised, for developers to get to grips with.
Looking at the new software itself, a lot of the new features were flagged up previously but Microsoft broke them down into three areas at the presentation today: Communications, Apps and the Internet. Looking at Communications, Mango will attempt to draw together all the various connections you have through email, text, social media and photos and organise them around the person or group. Threads will allow you to bring conversations from email, text, MSN into one place while you will also be able to group contacts into personalised Live Tiles. As regards social media, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are now integrated into contact cards, and Mango includes built-in Facebook check-ins and new face detection software that makes it easier to quickly tag photos and post to the Web. There is also voice-to-text and text-to-voice support enables hands-free texting or chatting.
Integration of apps is also an important part of Mango, and App Connect will connect apps to search results and real-time information will be available from the improved Live Tiles without having to open the app. Live Tiles are now more dynamic and can hold more information. Of course multi-tasking is something we’ve known was coming to Mango and Microsoft says Mango will allow apps to run in the background while helping to preserve battery life and performance.
Finally, Microsoft demonstrated how it has improved the Internet with Mango, “blurring the lines between internet search and apps.” Rather than returning the blue links we’re used to seeing from search results, Bing’s deep integration into the OS, mean search results are a lot more relevant and localised – or so Microsoft claims. Searching for a film title for example will return film times at your nearest cinema and link you to a Quick Card related to that film. Quick Cards give a quick summary of relevant information, including related apps, for product, film, event or place. IE9 also comes to Mango supporting HTML 5 and full hardware acceleration. Local Scout, provides hyper-local search results and recommends nearby restaurants, shopping and activities in an easy- to-use guide.
This is certainly a major update for the Windows Phone platform and we are looking forward to the new handsets which will accompany its launch. Hopefully the update will be rolled out in a consistent and timely manner, unlike the updates to WP7 which we’ve seen (or not as the case may be) so far.
Look out for our hands-on with the Windows Phone Mango coming soon.