Windows Phone “Mango” has officially been RTM’d. What’s RTM? It means that Microsoft has given the new build its stamp of approval and released it to the manufacturers. Once it’s in the hands of companies like Samsung, HTC, LG and others, the finished software will go through rigorous testing and configurations to make things run smoothly on their respective handsets. That means that everything is on schedule as the company preps for a fall release.
But the real questions is: Why should you, as a potential Windows Phone 7 user, be excited? Well, there are about 3 reasons.
Windows Phone Mango is furthering Microsoft’s vision of making your phone about more than just communicating, they want it to be primarily about the people you communicate with. Meaning that the focus should be on them, not on how you get in touch with them.
One of the new features that addresses this is unified messaging – the messaging app can switch between SMS, Live Messenger, and Facebook Chat without breaking a sweat or interrupting your thread of messages. Threaded email will also be introduced, along with the ability to selectively merge your inboxes; for example, you can choose to combine your Hotmail and Gmail accounts, but leave another email account separate.
Grouping of contacts is now an option as well, letting you see social updates from a specific group of people or easily send out group emails, text messages, and so much more. To add to this, there is a deeper integration of social networks beyond Facebook. Twitter and LinkedIn are both slated to be added to your contacts, allowing you to keep up with their social presence in one simple glance.
Before you get too excited, no, Mango will not be the first mobile software to introduce Flash to the market. What it will have though, is Internet Explorer 9. Not a mobile version of the desktop browser, but the same desktop browser just loaded on your phone. In early tests, the new browser was substantially speedier than it’s current iOS, Android, and BlackBerry counterparts.
Bing has some great new features as well. Local Scout extends the search functions to give you detailed information based on your location. This could mean highlighting the hottest restaurants or informing you of seasonal attractions that may be on at the time. Plus, you’ve got Bing Vision, which is essentially Google Goggles for Windows, allowing you to scan barcodes and QR codes to gain additional information.
A cool use of Bing Vision was demoed by scanning the cover of a book, which then opened the Kindle app and the user could instantly purchase the eBook. This is a recurring theme in Mango, offering up apps as solutions to searches; for example, a search for movie showtimes may bring up the Fandango app that’s loaded on your phone.
Finally, Bing Audio will also be added. It’s essentially a Bing version of the popular app Shazam, and allows for the tagging of music that is played to the device as well as lyric searches and instant mp3 downloads.
Microsoft has really stepped up their game here in order to lure in developers from competing smartphone platforms. One of the biggest changes is multitasking support, which will allow some simple tasks to be operated in the background, with most apps simply being suspended until they are reopened. Holding down the “back” button will bring up a grid of open applications that you can slide through with ease.
Live Tiles have gotten a few tweaks, giving developers access to previously restricted content that will allow them to deeply integrate live tiles with their respective applications. This means less time spent on your phone as more and more information will be available at a glance, just like Microsoft has wanted all along.
Now are you starting to feel the excitement? Mango may not be a huge change, but it is bringing a polished feel to the mobile OS that it needed in order to compete with it’s more mature peers and it seems to be only a matter of time before it takes its rightful place beside iOS and Android.