Windows Phone 7 Mango Preview

Can’t get enough of Windows Phone 7 Mango ? I just came back from the Paris unveiling event with quite a bit of info regarding the first major update of Microsoft’s mobile OS. First let me start by pointing out to the previous Mango post I did about the new APIs and Developer related features here and here. Today’s preview will mainly focus on the consumer experience and some other bits of info that you may have not heard of before.

There’s obviously not much to say that already hasn’t been said earlier and even shown in official videos. The first question on everybody’s mind is most probably: When is Mango going to be released? Well the official answer is this Autumn but from what I’ve been told there won’t be a official launch day similar to what was done last year with Windows Phone 7. Instead, OEMs will start launching their devices when they are ready. This essentially means that once Mango is RTM and certified by carriers, manufacturers will integrate the gold code into their upcoming phones and start shipping them once they are ready. There will be a steady release of Mango handsets throughout the fall season and holidays.

The second question is: Was there any new handset announced? Well, contrary to what some rumors suggested not a single handset was shown or announced. Fujitsu/Toshiba, Acer and ZTE are now on board of the Windows Phone train though. In the case of Fujitsu-Toshiba their first handsets will most probably launch exclusively in Japan at first ( nothing is set in stone though, discussions are still underway). HTC is expected to launch 2 (or 3) phones , most probably the Ignite and Prime and Samsung is currently working on a “Hero” handset (high-end WP7 model). Microsoft already has working Nokia prototypes but there was nothing to show today.

Mango is packed with stubble changes that have not been talked about yet. For example the search button will now always open Bing search. Microsoft has now added a search icon in the application bar (or simply a search icon on the lower left of the screen) that will give the user the ability to search within an native app (contacts,people hub, marketplace etc..).Speaking of the People Hub, it seems like Microsoft finally fixed what I have been complaining about all along: all the sms/email/etc conversation history is now included in each contact card. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test if tapping on a mail now logically opens the phone’s email client or still stupidly opens the browser and navigates to hotmail.com (but I think that it works like a should, fingers crossed).

The messaging app now includes SMS, MMS, Messenger, Facebook chat (and LinkedIn and Viadeo in the near future). There’s one thing I forgot to check though: sending videos by email or MMS. Sorry for that but I really forgot about this. Speech to text and Text to speech is also fully functional for Messenger and SMS but I was unable to see the Twitter integration which was apparently not yet functional in the builds. The Messenger integration is a dream come true for all of us users who have been complaining about its omission from the current version of the OS ( It wasn’t a priority feature at the time and the OS didn’t have the necessary functionality to make it possible). You will finally be able to chat with you friends, family (yes even group chat is supported) via SMS, Messenger and Facebook all seamlessly integrated into one single thread. Messenger emoticons and MPOP (multiple points of presence) are also supported.

Microsoft has also tweaked the UI all across the OS to point at things that probably went unnoticed before by some users. For example there’s a new arrow in the camera app in the lower left of the viewfinder to indicate that you can swipe to access the camera roll. The camera will now remember your settings (finally!).

The picture hub also received some UI changes. As you can see in the picture below you now have direct access to the camera roll and a new People pane has been added. This new pane gives you access to people/groups photo albums create on Facebook or Skydrive. User now also have the ability to tag people in the photos then upload them to Facebook etc..

Microsoft has also added an auto-fix feature that seems to tweaked the pictures contrast, sharpness similar to what was demoed by Microsoft Research a couple of weeks ago.

The new Office hub now gives users access to the Office documents hosted on their personal Skydrives, Office 365 and Exchange servers. PDF are can also be uploaded / downloaded but the Adobe PDF reader application will be needed to open them. Tasks are now also supported in the the OS.

Now let’s talk about Bing. As you probably already know three new services have been added in Mango: Bing Vision, Bing Audio (music search) and Local Scout. What you want to know now is if those nice features work outside of the US. Well, officially Bing Vision should work in the US, UK and France. Bing Audio will work in the US, UK , France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Local Scout should be available in the US, UK and France. I know that the official Windows Phone site says that Local Scout only works in the US and UK but I was able to confirm that it works in France too (I saw it running on a phone running in French and another one in English) with the use of the Page Jaunes POIs launched last month. BTW, the sudden lack of business reviews in Bing a few days ago was caused by updates to the service in preparation of Mango. Everything isn’t fully up and running yet and I was told that a new build and service update is expected between June 1st and June 6 and this is when MS will start talking about Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Music Search Twitter etc. Update: The Quick Cards results in Bing are currently only available in the US. Quick cards are for example: Movie Showtimes, product reviews, indoor maps etc..

IE9 Mobile works as expected but I’m still not a fan of the new URL bar and the fact that I now have an additional tap to access the favorites, tabs etc. Oddly enough Javascript support was still busted in this build. If you haven’t noticed yet, since NoDo IE Mobile no longer display some JS content, most notably ads. As you will see in the video below the current IE Mobile version leaves a blank space in placeof the ads while IE9 Mobile renders an error message in place of the JS content.

Multi-Tasking worked like a breeze and there was no performance hit at all. Early WP7 adopters will now have to drop the bad habit of constantly re-opening applications after exiting them and instead remember that long pressing the back button is now the way to go.

The device’s lock screen also changes based on the song / artist being played.You will also notice that the player controls are now fully embedded on the top left of the screen (they no longer auto-hide after 5 seconds).

Here’s a short video of some of the features in action (sorry no sound cause it was really noisy in there..):

There’s undoubtedly a lot more features to talk about but I think that’s there’s already enough material already posted about them so just hit the Mango tag to check them all out. If you have any questions just ask them below or and check out the full list of new Mango features here.
. Remember that Mango’s success will also depend on the marketing push that Microsoft is willing to put behind it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Cavalcanti/100002178260420 Ian Cavalcanti

    Here in Madrid they also presented Bing Vision and Local Scout (but the device was in English), so what i can guess, is that it should work here in Spain. Shouldn’t? By the way, i can understad that it may be not working in the beginning, because Spain is probably the less important country of where WP7 officialy sells.

  • http://www.mobiletechworld.com MobileTechWorld

    Yeah the fact that they have demo’d the feature most probably means that it should come to the country. Now it remains to be seen if you’ll have to setup the phone to run in English or not. The most important fact is that the POIs (points of interest) are available on MS’s servers/database.

  • Leo

    There was a press conference in Sao Paulo as well, but we heard more NO than YES today.
    NO for Bing and Zune (as expected) and YES for Xbox Live and Marketplace.
    The devices presented to the press (HTC’s Mozart) weren’t totally translated (some parts of the system were in Portuguese, others in English).
    Also, Microsoft announced that Brazi will be the first country to have an “Center of Excellence” of Windows Phone.
    It was created in partnership with Instituto Eldorado and will serve to help developers create their applications to the system, advising them in terms of business plans and support in general.
    The brazilian journalists were pleased by the “built-in” Messenger (which is insanely popular here), but concerned about the ammount of data features like Facebook and Twitter could spent (the data plans are still expensive and inaccessible for the majority of the users).

  • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

    I certainly love all the little transitions I see throughout using my Windows phone and it’s nice to see they are adding more.  At 3:30 when they are in the Call History, go to Bing, push back and the call history flips in. Nice!

  • http://www.mobiletechworld.com MobileTechWorld

    Thanks for the info Leo. Bing outside of the US is still a touchy subject at Microsoft. The service just doesn’t have enough content in some regions. Things will most probably change (mainly for Bing Maps) once Nokia’s Ovi Maps assets are integrated into the service.
    Messenger and FB Chat integration is huge especiallyMSN  in EU, ME, and South America but like you said phones like these really need unlimited data plans. The ball is now in the carriers hand…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ricardo-Dawkins/746307628 Ricardo Dawkins

    Nice article…much better than the other blogs. I learned a lot more in this short article than going to WPcentral, Pocketnow, Engadget and WMPoweruser

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ricardo-Dawkins/746307628 Ricardo Dawkins

    “The brazilian journalists were pleased by the “built-in” Messenger (which is insanely popular here)”

    of course, it is popular. Latinamerica loves Messenger. Period.

  • Ccmd_232

    In the WP7 Page on facebook, currently (as of lisat night my time), at the bottom of the page there was this statement:
    * Local Scout wroks only in US and UK.

  • http://www.mobiletechworld.com MobileTechWorld

    Thanks Ricardo. There’s a lot to say about Mango but I decided to not make this preview super long given the overwhelming amount of official press / public material (videos,pictures, feature descriptions) released by MS yesterday. If you have questions feel free to ask me here.

    Cheers

  • http://www.mobiletechworld.com MobileTechWorld

    Yup, I mentioned this in the preview. But like I said it’s working here in France (and apparently in other countries as long as there are Point Of Interests / Businesses + Reviews in the Bing database). So far the Local results have only been officially launched in US UK and France (a few weeks ago) IIRC.

  • http://www.techendeavour.com Aggarwal Rahul

    Microsoft is trying hard with the
    window7.5 phone to stand apart for good from the mobile space kings (ANDROID
    and Apple) but, may be Microsoft will still have to wait for the features of
    much awaited iOS 5 and Ice Cream sandwich to be disclosed. Apart from the IE9
    browser, there are 2 features among the reported 500 features of Mango, those
    are Quick Cards and Local Scout. Though both the features are identical, the
    Local Scout will give the info about the events happening in the neighborhood
    whereas, the Quick Cards displays all the info about a searched item in Bing.
     

  • EM

    Canada has probably as much information to scrap as the USA does, but no Bing love. I didn’t know Bing Local now works in France, I guess that means they can update the supported Bing (and Zune?) features via their servers and not require a downloaded WP7 update?

  • http://twitter.com/vvmenon Vinod Menon

    Hi, I think the mms option is not working. I tried to send MMS and it says “Can’t send message Try agian”. This definitely is a bug and on checking few other blogs, there seems to be complaint from a lot of people. Can you please check the MMS option and update the review?