The upcoming OS update to Windows Phone 7 shows a lot of promise.
I was invited to Microsoft’s Mango preview event last week- the codename for the upcoming update for Windows Phone 7. Landing later this year in September, Mango might be called Windows Phone 7.5 and will bring over 500 new features to the platform.
Mango will be a free update for all current Windows Phone 7 devices, however, do expect new phone launches as well from companies like Acer, Nokia and Fujitsu|Toshiba. What shouldn’t be expected is a major hardware refresh as one of the Microsoft reps answered when I asked. No dual core or retina displays for Windows Phone 7 with Mango.
Coming to those 500 new features, I must say that Microsoft has made some great progress with the update and it’s looking to be pretty sweet- hence the codename Mango. One of the biggest features added to the Windows Phone 7 platform is that the phone now supports multi tasking and applications can be multi-threaded as well. Holding down the back key brings you a deck of cards, each representing a snapshot of the application in its current state which is a much nicer implementation than the icon views that iOS, Android or BlackBerry OS currently offer.
Speaking of BlackBerry, Microsoft is borrowing a couple of features from RIM such as the Universal Inbox that displays everything from your emails and text messages to Facebook, twitter and instant messages. Like RIM, the Twitter and Facebook apps are designed by Microsoft internally to integrate tightly with the OS. Microsoft has also added LinkedIn to the mix which should give you a wealth of information for your personal as well as professional contacts.
Another awesome new feature is messaging to groups. You can define groups like family or friends and whenever you send a message to this group, each individual receives the message based on the platform they use- so for example, one person could receive that message in Facebook, while someone who doesn’t have Facebook could get a text message or an IM. It’s a brilliant idea and it should also work with sharing pictures.
One more feature I really liked is that all your communications with a contact is neatly stored in that contact’s profile. So when you pull up a contact, you can see how and what you have communicated with that person- be it on a social network, over email or an instant messaging.
Last but certainly not the least is Bing’s Vision Search feature that lets you take a picture of something with a barcode or a book or even a CD/DVD and Mango recognizes that and pulls up information such as reviews or places selling that particular item inn Bing. I’m not sure how well that would be integrated in the region but at least it works.
Sadly, full built-in Arabic support hasn’t made the cut in Mango so you will have to rely on third party applications or handset manufacturers to specifically add this. From what we hear, Nokia should be doing that with their first handset launch later this year. On the bright side, Microsoft has opened up a lot more APIs including ones that can access your Address Book and Calendar so expect apps like WhatsApp to make an appearance soon on your Windows Phone.