Microsoft is full steam ahead at the moment with its Windows Phone 7 operating system and that means giving us the chance to actually live with one in the home ahead of the official release of the new update in September.
We plan to bring you a full review of Windows Phone 7 Mango in the coming days but before we've had a chance to find out its every foibles, we wanted to share with you all of the new features that we've found from digging around in the OS on top of those already detailed when the announcement was originally made.
Some are small, but will make a big difference, others are far more sweeping, but won’t impact your daily use but all are worth noting. So, while you wait for both our full low down and the launch of Mango itself, here are the new features of Windows Phone 7 and just why it's something to get excited about.
Apps menu – search and downloading
Yep it’s one of the smaller changes, but nonetheless a useful one. Now when you access the full app list there is a search button that lets you find the app you need quickly. That’s going to be incredibly handy if you’re an app horder of apps as it will save you scrolling down the page to find them.
Furthermore apps and their download status now appear in a line bar underneath the new app so you can see how they are downloading without having to stay in Marketplace.
Battery saver settings
“Your phone can turn off some services to help preserve your battery. For example, you won’t automatically receive emails and applications won’t run in the background. You can still use the phone, send and receive text messages and get your emails manually.”
That’s a new feature in Windows Phone 7 that looks to work in a similar way to Android’s power saving options.
It comes with two handy options – to always have it on, or to only turn it on until the next charge.
Either way it’s a welcomed addition and one that means that you’ll still hopefully have enough charge to phone to say you are coming home from that boozy night out.
IE9 – new slimline interface, share web pages
You would be forgiven for thinking that you could already email people web pages you found interesting, but you can’t until now. That’s right Microsoft has added a “Share page” feature to Internet Explorer so you can now share pages with your mates.
One of the bigger changes however is that IE has been slimlined and decluttered. The address bar is at the bottom, and while the current version of IE for Windows Phone features buttons and other gubbins, it’s now all gone.
Photos – Auto fix and face tagging
Apple and iOS 5 is the only one to let you fix your photos once you’ve taken them and now Mango is going to let you auto-fix your photos.
As the name suggests it’s all about automatically fixing them, but crux of the feature is to basically make dark shots lighter so you can see what’s going on, but more than just increasing the exposure.
Face Tagging will let you tag your friends in your photos before uploading them to services like Facebook.
Not many changes here, although Xbox Live now gets a new look to fit in with the new look for Xbox announced at E3
Bing – music, vision, local scout and quick cards
Microsoft has added to the Bing experience even further by adding a number of new features to Bing that will make you want to show off your phone to all you see.
Bing Music for example works in a similar to way to Shazam allowing you to let your phone listen to music before telling you what it is and giving you a link to play it or buy it in the Zune Marketplace.
Bing Vision works by using your camera to capture words on a menu or sign to be translated, or a barcode to see where the product is available to buy online.
Local Scout tells you want’s happening in your area like eating and drinking, things to see and do, or shops to be shopped in. There are also highlights too.
Clicking on one of the results brings up a “Quick card” and that gives you the address or directions using Bing maps.
If an app like Top Table is installed on your phone, Quick cards also have the power to interact with those too.
Improved SkyDrive support (now 25GB), and Office 365 capabilities (which will be added at the end of the month following the launch of the service. You can also see pdf’s within the Office hub if you’ve got the Adobe Reader app installed.
Email and calendar
Email gets a Rights protected emails via exchange feature that means businesses that use such a feature can now view those emails on their phone instead of having to fire up a PC.
Why should big business care? Well if you take company like Microsoft for example, around 15-20 per cent of emails that it send internally are Rights Protected, that means it’s workforce can now read those emails on the go.
And if you are wondering what the Rights Protected bit means, it’s that you can see the contents of the email, but you can’t see it, and you can’t copy and paste it either.
On the calendar side of things, Microsoft has added in Facebook calendar support. That means you can see your Facebook events in your calendar, and even accept or decline them without having to worry about going to Facebook. Nifty huh?
Add these to the features we’ve previously covered and it’s clear that the Windows Phone 7 Mango update is a major overhaul of the operating system bringing with it a number of new features.
We are going to continue to play with the phone over the next couple of days and hope to bring you a more in-depth look and what the operating system means, what bits work, and what is still to be fixed. Not from a bug point of view, but a feature set point of view.
Until then, let us know what you think in the comments below.