The next major update to Windows Phone 7, as you’re probably aware, is codenamed Mango. But what exactly will it bring to Microsoft’s mobile operating system, which has rather limped out of the gates since its launch last October?
Microsoft has been detailing the enhancements the fruitful update will introduce to WP7 handsets at a press event over in New York.
Mango is set to boast no less than 500 new features, with an overall philosophy that aims to streamline smartphone usage, which Microsoft points out is currently a rather disconnected experience spread across various different apps and messaging accounts.
MS wants to organise information around the person or group that is being communicated with, not the app.
To that end, a raft of features are being introduced, including deeper social network integration, with for example Twitter feeds integrated into contact cards, built-in Facebook check-ins and face detection software to quickly tag photos.
Users will be able to group contacts into personalised Live tiles which will show the latest status updates from any members and allow for the swift sending of a message to the group. Threads will facilitate switching between different mediums within a conversation, such as heading from texts to a Facebook chat seamlessly.
Multiple email accounts will be linkable into a single central inbox with conversations organised within that, regardless of the account used to communicate.
It’s without doubt a major effort on the organisation and streamlining front, and certainly the most interesting thing we’ve heard about Windows Phone 7 in quite some time. Hands-free messaging is also promised, with voice-to-text and text-to-voice support.
For souped-up browsing duties, a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9 is coming with Mango, bringing with it hardware acceleration and HTML5 support. Bing and more localised relevant searches are promised.
A “smarter approach” to apps is also being adopted with the WP7 update, with more direct app integration into the core features of the handset, improved multi-tasking and enhanced Live tiles which boast real-time information pulled from apps (even when they’re not open).
Microsoft definitely needs to do something to give Windows Phone 7 a rocket up its rear battery cover, as thus far the operating system’s performance has been less than stellar.
Microsoft is hoping that Mango – or Windows Phone 7.5 as we thought it was going to be called, yet MS made no reference to this moniker – will ignite some fire in its mobile belly. Alongside that partnership with Nokia, of course.
Mango will be a free update (we should hope so, too) and is expected to roll out this autumn, when it will no doubt be on new Nokia handsets.