Windows Phone 7 Mango: What's new, and why you'll want it

Since the launch of the Windows Phone 7 in October 2010, Microsoft has been promising a stack of new features to make its mobile phone operating system even better. So, six months on, and Microsoft has revealed the next batch of features (some 500 in total) under the codename of Windows Phone 7 Mango.

The catch? The new features just announced aren’t available today, and instead won’t be heading to your Windows Phone 7 phone until sometime in "the Fall” probably around the first anniversary of the OS; so October.

Still, while we have to wait for the new features to come to the phones in our pockets, that hasn’t stopped Pocket-lint having a walkthrough on an Asus built developer unit (Microsoft has asked us to stress the physical handset isn’t coming to market) of the new features in the operating system by the head of mobile at Microsoft in the UK, Eric Hermelee.

Here are just some of the 500 new features worth writing home about.

 

More information on tiles

Wanting to stick with the “glance and go” mantra that it’s trying to build up, Microsoft is to allow developers even more controls to show information on their tile on the home page. An example of this could be the newly announced BA app that currently only shows the BA logo. Under Mango it could display active information like your gate number, or whether the flight is delayed without you even having to launch the app.

 

Twitter and LinkedIn added

Microsoft is upping the social networking prowess of Windows Phone 7 by adding linked support for Twitter and LinkedIn. Users will be able to see status updates and shares data between their phone and the two social networking services very much in the same way that they do with Facebook at the moment. LinkedIn, for the business savvy will be especially useful, we presume.

 

Groups

With more and more contacts in your phone the ability to get droned out with noise is even more apparent. One of the new features of Mango and one that might bring a sense of something to do with the smartphone OS (settings are virtually void remember) is groups within the People hub.

Now you’ll be able to create a new group, grouping people together be it your work colleagues, friends or family and you get to create as many of these as you like.

Once created you can then see what’s new and any photos they’ve posted via the various social networking sites that you’ve got linked to their contacts. You’ll also be able to contact them with the phone indicating the best way to do so – three of your eight friends have email, for example.

This is going to be a huge hit for the OS. It's easy see that it will let you filter relevant people either permanently or on the fly at conferences or events. It also means that you can have weekend Twitter and Facebook groups on your phone so that you're not tempted by working when you're supposed to be playing.

 

Consistent conversations

With so many ways of talking to your friends, it can get quiet confusing keeping track of your communications. Microsoft is hoping to ease that stress with the Mango update by allowing you to have consistent conversations across IM, email, Facebook Chat, and others.

Instead of having to open multiple apps, or messaging windows, Windows Phone 7 Mango will put them all in one place.

To prove this, Hermelee showed us a conversation he’d been having with his wife using the new system over the course of the day. The conversation started on IM, Hermelee tells us, before moving on to email, before eventually ending up over Facebook Chat via a Mac at a friends house. While Hermelee’s wife changed devices and services throughout the conversation, Hermelee was for the better part (there are small headers) none the wiser seeing the message in a single thread on a single page as if he was having a text message conversation with someone.

 

Email threads

Taking on Gmail and Apple, there is better message threading in Windows Phone 7 mango.

 

Sky Drive for Office

Windows Phone 7 users already use Microsoft’s Sky Drive for their photos in Windows Phone 7 and, come the Mango update, will be able to use Sky Drive for documents as well. The service has now been interwoven with the Office hub too.

 

Multitasking improvements

Everyone wants to do two things at once and that goes for Windows Phone 7 users, supposedly according to Microsoft, even if they believe it’s a “glance and go” operating system.

What you’ll get with the Mango update is the ability to dip in and out of apps in a very similar way to how the BlackBerry PlayBook does it with QNX zooming out of the app you're in and then jumping back into another one.

In practice, it all works fine, does what it says on the tin with the user being able to jump between games and apps at the press of a button.

 

IE 9

Internet on the go is to be boosted with the inclusion of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 for the operating system. This means tabbed browsing but, more handily, hardware accelerated browsing and, while Windows Phone 7 doesn’t currently support a dual-core processor, manufacturers will be no doubt be happy to be able boost performance if it means offering customers a better internet experience.

 

Bing cards and Local Scout

Bing has been on Windows Phone 7 from the start. It even has its own dedicated button on the hardware, however, Microsoft is boosting its performance even further with the Mango update.

Now users searching the Internet will get access to something Microsoft is calling Bing cards. They are like rolodex cards pulling out the key information on places like restaurants so you don’t have to go to the website and find the contact information or opening times.

Bing is also adding something call “Local Scout” that will list things to do, places to eat and drink and shops nearby so you’ve always got suggestions to hand.

 

More to come

These are of course just some of the many new features that will be heading our way.

In our demo we weren’t shown any improvements to the gaming hub for example, and we are sure as the summer rolls on they’ll be news on Skype, and possibly Kinect (we hope).

The annoying part is that we’ve now got to wait 4-6 months for them to come on the phone, and then no doubt the usual array of hassles as operators slowly roll them out meaning that some Windows Phone 7 users might not even see these updates in 2011 – shudder at the thought.  

 

What feature are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below