Microsoft have previewed their latest version of Windows Phone 7, version 7.1 codenamed ‘Mango’. Designed to deliver 500 new features to Windows Phone handsets, Mango will launch in the fall as a free update and will come preinstalled on new Nokia WP smartphones. The mission statement behind this update centers around providing users with an enhanced smartphone experience for communications, social networking, apps and web browsing. So in other words, pretty much everything one uses such a device for. The key areas focused on in ‘Mango’ include:
- Threads – Switch between text, Facebook chat, and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation.
- Groups – Group contacts into personalized Live Tiles to see the latest status updates right from the Start Screen and quickly send a text, email, or IM to the whole group.
- Deeper social network integration – Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are now integrated into contact cards, and Mango includes built-in Facebook check-ins and new face detection software that makes it easier to quickly tag photos and post to the Web.
- Linked inbox – See multiple email accounts in one linked inbox. Conversations are organized to make it easy to stay on top of the latest mail.
- Hands-free messaging – Built-in voice-to-text and text-to-voice support enables hands-free texting or chatting.
Core services of the phone software will be implemented within apps for improved integration allowing for efficient use of notifications and updates directly into the Home Screen. I would imagine that this will probably reduce the amount of back-and-forth app switching as important services will be available without having to return all the way back to the start menu again. This method will also ensure a strengthening of Phone Hub integration for media services through a process called App Connect. New Multitasking functionality will allow for users to switch from one app to the next while keeping apps running in the background. The live Tiles will be more dynamic, providing more information than before. The Web browsing experience will also be improved with an updated Internet Explorer 9 to take full advantage of hardware acceleration and support for HTML5. Overall these improvements are very welcome and in my view 2012 could see Microsoft begin to finally make real inroads into the mobile OS market place. Watch out Google and Apple, Redmond are finally on their way.