Microsoft unveiled its Windows Phone Mango update on Tuesday.
WinRumors got the chance to sit down with the company and run through a number of Mango’s top consumer features. The software giant is planning to make Mango available later this year in the fall time frame. Microsoft is staying quiet on the official naming and timing for Mango but Steve Ballmer revealed earlier this week that the update will contain more than 500 new features.
Windows Live Messenger & Facebook Chat integration
Microsoft is integrating Windows Live Messenger straight into Windows Phone Mango. Users will be able to set their presence on the messaging service and exchange messages. The experience is integrated tightly into the operating system. Microsoft has built the messages straight into the Message Hub of Windows Phone Mango. Mango users can simply choose which method they want to use to communicate with friends. If you send an SMS to a friend and then a Facebook Chat message, both will appear alongside each other in a message thread. The integration is a key part of Microsoft’s Mango experience and we fully expect that Skype will be integrated in a similar way in future releases of the platform.
Check-in to Facebook Places and Windows Live integration
Windows Phone Mango allows users to check-in natively from their phone. Using a “check-in” feature, owners can simply share their location with friends and social networks without having to open a separate application. Microsoft says that the feature will work with Bing and Facebook Places but did not reveal whether Foursquare is also supported. The experience is launched from within the People Hub.
People Hub – Groups
One of the more interesting changes to the People Hub is the ability to group contacts into groups. The feature will automatically group family who share the same surname into a group and allow you to filter out members. Windows Phone Mango users can also setup groups for colleagues or friends. The groups are displayed in their own section of the People Hub. The group section takes all members and creates live tiles for each member under the group. The group section also includes a “what’s new” section with the latest social media updates and group pictures which contain images where group members are tagged. Groups can be pinned to the Windows Phone homescreen. The native integration also allows Groups to be used for messaging. Mango users can simply send a message over Windows Live or SMS to the group or via email.
Outlook and Linked Inboxes
Microsoft has greatly improved its inbuilt Outlook mail client on Windows Phone Mango. The inbox now includes threaded messages to group conversations. The view makes it easier to view an overview of your mail. Microsoft has also built-in “Linked Inboxes” which allows users to link a number of different email accounts together. The feature is designed to separate personal accounts from work accounts in most cases. The Linked Inboxes can be pinned to the home screen to make them easily accessible.
Xbox hub improvements
Microsoft has tweaked the Xbox LIVE hub to include 3D avatars as the default experience. Windows Phone 7 owners will be familiar with the interface as it’s built into the Xbox LIVE extras application. Microsoft has ported this across to the Xbox LIVE hub. The software giant has also made some changes to differentiate between Xbox LIVE Silver and Xbox LIVE Gold. The live tile will reflect this but the company didn’t expand on what the changes mean to the average user.
Multitasking, fast app switching/resume improvements
Perhaps the biggest feature of Mango is the ability to multitask between applications. Microsoft has built the feature straight into the OS and allows it to be triggered by holding the back button. The interface provides a live view of the last five applications that have been running on the device. The background color in the multitasking UI is linked to the phones system color for consistency. Each application can take up 90MB of memory space to multitask and Microsoft says the system is limited to five simultaneous applications. Windows Phone Developers can build in support for multitasking with the updated Mango SDK.
Office Hub and SkyDrive improvements
Microsoft is now offering full integration with SkyDrive inside the Office Hub. Windows Phone Mango users will be able to pull documents from Microsoft’s cloud, edit them or take notes on them, and sync them back to SkyDrive. The native integration of SkyDrive, SharePoint and Office 365 will wow consumers and business customers alike. SkyDrive folders are presented in a discoverable way inside the Office Hub. Shared folders will also be available.
Bing Local Scout
Microsoft’s latest Bing play on Windows Phone Mango is the most impressive location based service inside the new OS. Users of Bing will be prompted to explore their location with a banner at the bottom of the Bing user interface. The prompt will open up Bing Local Scout features. Local Scout shows places to eat, drink, shop and see around you. Local restaurants and places of interest will be surfaced nearby, allowing users to access rich location data to discover new retail outlets. The experience includes map integration to allow users to quickly navigate to the local shop, restaurant or place of interest. Users can also save favorites. Local Scout will also allow users to surface information about where they are going for a meeting or family day out. The experience is fully integrated and hooked into Mail and Calendar. Local Scout will launch when a user taps on an address or link received in an email or calendar invite.
Zune Smart DJ and Album Art lockscreen
Zune Smart DJ has also been ported to Windows Phone Mango. The feature allows Zune Pass subscribers to simply stream music based on existing content. Smart DJ will offer up songs of artists similar to those you have synced onto Windows Phone. Microsoft has also integrated song album art into the lockscreen for Windows Phone Mango. If content is playing on the device when it’s locked, the phone will show the album art and automatically disable it if it’s paused or stopped.
Pin photo albums and tagging
Windows Phone Mango now allows users to pin albums straight onto the Windows Phone homescreen. Users can also add tags to pictures inside the Photo Hub. Windows Phone Mango automatically detects which network the picture is stored on and allows users to tag Facebook friends or Windows Live friends depending on where the picture is stored.