11 Neat Features In Windows Phone 7 Mango

Steve Ballmer announced that Mango will have over 500 new features and we’ve seen quite a few of those. Having played around with Windows Phone 7 Mango for more than 24 hours I’ve found the beta release to be stable and pretty functional. There have been lengthy reviews of the update and I won’t be getting into that. I will however share a list of my top additions (or tweaks) in the upcoming update. Here are 11 that complement the features linked above:

Call Log (History):

I stumbled on this when I was at a bar and looking at a friend’s profile only to realize that I hadn’t seen such a comprehensive (and clean) log of contact activity. Divided by weeks, the log displays SMS, email and call activity with ability to see more activity with synced email accounts like Google or Outlook.


Conversation View

My inbox used to be filled with 20+ emails when I turned my data connection ON and it used to be annoying to manual delete each email in a thread I am not interested in. Not anymore. Threaded mail or conversation view is a feature I would like to thank the overlords in Redmond for.

PS: Linked Inboxes isn’t in my list since I’ve got only three mailboxes that I follow.

Battery Saver

Windows Phone 7 did not show a lot of statistics and it felt incomplete. In Mango, Microsoft has introduced a new feature that shows you how long (time) your battery will last and also an option to initiate a battery saver mode when the battery is low. The battery saver mode turns the following services off:

  • Push Email
  • WiFi
  • Background Applications

The well thought-out tweak under Battery Saver is the control allowing us to initiate battery saver whenever we want to till the phone is connected to a power source. While I am not sure what is battery low but I guess when remaining life is around 20%.


Switch between SMS and Facebook chat

It is one those attention to detail features that as users we want. All text conversation threads with friends now have an icon at the bottom that allows us to quickly switch between SMS or IM. If the user is listed as online we can have a IM conversation. Unfortunately, we can’t send a private Facebook message if the user is offline. Nevertheless, the seamless switching between Facebook chat & SMS is fun!

IM-switch IM-switch2

Facebook Notifications

As I wrote earlier, with Mango the Me tile has become a lot more useful. The tile allows users to set their IM status, update their social status and check in using Facebook Places. The tile also lists Facebook notifications, coupled with push notifications introduced in the Facebook app, being able to glance at the latest notifications within the phone is handy.


Bing Local Scout & Music Search

Apps like Foursquare (Explore) and Yelp are quite handy to know what’s happening around your location but with Mango, Microsoft has built this functionality into Bing. In a feature named Scout, Bing lists the following:

  • Restaurants
  • Shopping locations
  • Local activates
  • Highlights

I will be doing a more detailed look into Scout in the coming days.

The other addition to Bing on WP7 is a Shazam-killer. A few weeks back, Shazam introduced a paid version of their popular music search app for WP7 and crippled the free version. As a user I was annoyed, not anymore. Microsoft has introduced Shazam-like feature in Bing and it works splendidly well! With Bing’s music search, a user can directly buy identified song from the Zune marketplace or go through his scanned music history later.


Facebook Events Integration

Windows Phone 7 syncs calendars from all email accounts but for all the Facebook integration, it did not sync Facebook Events. This changed in Mango. While I am not a heavy user of Facebook events, the reason I find this feature pretty damn cool is because now I can see all my Facebook friends’ birthdays as calendar entries on the phone.


Background Tasks

As a Windows users, the Task Manager is a feature I love. I like to know what processes are running in the background and what is the resource usage like. With Multitasking being introduced in Mango, a Task Manager to know the tasks running in the background and probably kill them if needed is crucial. While I haven’t been able to test it as yet, since there are no apps currently in the marketplace that can run in background, I’ve added this as a worth mentioning addition.


Now Playing Lock Screen

Till NoDo, the lock screen showed the wallpaper with notifications about new messages and calendar entries. To control the currently playing songs one had to press the volume buttons. In Mango however, the lock screen turns into a whole new level of awesome. If there is album art for the currently playing artist, the lock screen wallpaper will be replaced with gorgeous images from Zune with big play/pause control buttons.


Share Links from IE to Social Networks

In iOS 5, Apple has introduced deeper Twitter integration with users being able to tweet images and links from within the Safari and camera roll. You will be able to do it in Windows Phone 7 too. As of now, you can share links on LinkedIn, Facebook and Windows Live. With the expected Twitter integration I expect Twitter being added to the social networks.

PS: I would like to see this Social Networks share option under Pictures and even in the marketplace.


Autofix Pictures

In NoDo, options under images showed an entry called Extras that allowed third party apps to list themselves for interaction with the images. I was able to open an image in Thumba Photo Editor and edit the image or tweet the picture using the TwitPic app, in Mango this option isn’t there (I assume it’ll be back). Meanwhile, a new option has been ¬†introduced under image menu called Auto-Fix. This is a quick image editing option that applies certain basic fixes to the image such as hue, saturation etc. It does seem to work; before/after images below:

before after

Unfortunately, the edited image isn’t stored as a separate image, so once fixed there’s no undo.

Next time I’m in Redmond I would like to take the guys behind these features for a drink, they’ve made Mango pretty damn useful to me.

Published by

Manan Kakkar

Manan is a technology enthusiast keenly following the consumer products from Microsoft, Google & Apple.

  • Forget about the features. I guess you have mastered the art of photographing gadgets at better angle.

    • hah! Thank you!

    • could you teach me photoshop? lol

    • desbest

      Agreed. You should photograph more things about stuff we don’t know about.

  • John Liu

    Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code in your computer.

    Use Mango’s Bing Visual Search on the various codes, try the version 40 141×141 version (hold your camera very still).

    Also, try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Tag

  • Nice article with great screenshots – I have to say.

    – NextGen Reader
    A google reader client for wp7.

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  • kipani03

    Regarding the background apps, the last time I installed Yelp! it prompted me that 1. it wants to use my location and 2. will run in the background while the phone is locked. Try using Yelp! with the phone and let me know how it goes. =)

    • Run behind lock screen is NOT multitasking-like running in the background. There are several apps that run behind the lock screen right now.

  • Geoff

    Is there any word on when this update will be put out? I got my HD7 in November and was disappointed at the lack of some of the features coming in mango as well as the lack of having custom ringtones. I came to WP7 from a blackberry, which came with the option of custom rings from the start.

  • Mark Allett

    I don’t get how these are “secret” features. Certainly all of them I knew of before and I’m pretty sure Belfiore demonstrated most of them.

  • Robert

    Never mind fancy social networking features, the fundementals of Windows Phone 7 aren’t in place.

    It was a perfect opportunity for Microsoft to enhance the Windows family and encourage sales of the desktop/laptop Windows OS by giving the added benefit of mobile phone support.

    Virtually every business in the world has Windows PC’s and runs MS Office. If WP7 had tight integration with Windows & Office it would have been an essential companion for Windows business (and consumer) users. Moreover it would have encouraged more desktop Windows OS sales because of the advantage of the availability of an integrated mobile phone.

    But the implementation Microsoft has chosen is a simple, non-configurable consumer phone which is only good for use as a telephone and media player and thank heavens for small mercies, email functionality is not bad though you can’t attach any files other than image files. But they have completely ignored what would have been their only possible competitive advantage, that is tight integration with desktop Windows.

    So WP7 is simply a poor man’s iPhone with limited functionality and none of the thousands of apps available for the iPhone. Why would anyone buy a WP7 phone over an iPhone? There is no compelling reason to do so.

    Even as a strategy to bring Windows Phone to the mass consumer market, surely it would have been better to have satisfied business and geek users who lead market trends, then go for the consumer market once the phone has developed a ‘cool’ reputation. Only after that would the time have been right to copy the Apple monetisation model of iTunes/Zune.

    With WP7 you cannot transfer files from your computer to the phone, except media files via Zune software.

    You cannot upload any files to a computer or server except image files. Therefore there is no way to sensibly utilise Sharepoint 2007 with the phone.

    Your phone could be connected to your computer via USB – but you can’t transfer contacts, you have to do that through Windows Live. So you have to upload all your Outlook contacts to Windows Live (I don’t particularly want my contacts stored on some Microsoft server somewhere), and then have to download them from Windows Live to the phone using valuable and expensive mobile bandwidth.

    Even on ‘popular’ uses like music – you can’t search the Marketplace for artists whose music you want to download, you can only choose from a limited selection of what Microsoft consider “top albums”, “top artists” etc. – and they certainly don’t match my taste.

    The editing facilities for Excel and Word are a joke and of no real use, and the you can’t upload the files anywhere anyway, unless you happen to have access to a Sharepoint 2010 server.

    The Calendar application doesn’t allow you to connect to Sharepoint calendars.

    The foundations upon which Microsoft’s success has been built (apart from being in the right place at the right time at the beginning) are backwards compatibility and configurability. They have ignored both those factors for WP7. They are playing a very dangerous game in trying to copy other vendors strengths rather than building on their own, which are many.

    In their rush to embrace and push “cloud” computing they are ignoring the fact that a sizeable chunk of their customers do not want their data stored on third-party servers, but do need their own devices to talk to each other.

    If they had made WP7 useful for business users with proper and deep Windows integration they could have had a real winner on their hands.

    I’m a fan of Microsoft and use their products extensively, but WP7 is a massive disappointment and missed opportunity. Shame.

    And as far as I can tell Mango doesn’t address any of these issues.

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  • mrbill

    Want to ask about WT* is up with this Win7 phone NOT having a way to sync via USB or WiFi to our Outlook on our desktop. What the heck was MS thinking on this. All the discussion boards are lit up over this and have been since the start. So apparently we will have to stick with our iPhone to do this…..we need all synced. Calendar, contacts, tasks, notes etc. Is it in Mango….a new sync app….and we do not want a silly “cloud” thingy. Will never ever use a cloud service.

    • Not sure about Outlook, but my gmail syncs between my phone and PC browser fine, both, e-mail and calendar. I had to tweak my settings to make sync instant (as a battery saver, it only seems to sync once an hour). I’d be VERY surprised if WP7 plays better with Google than with Microsoft’s own stuff.

      • Responder is correct WinPhone will NOT sync with Outlook on the desktop via USB. You have to do a kludge cloud to Live mail or Hotmail….what utter nonsense. And they have intentionally disabled the api and sdk so an app can not be written on purpose. phone will lag for this as the lay customer expects a MS product to sync with other MS product…ie Outlook.

        Where is the full blown Outlook app on the phone for gods sake. This is what a phone is for…a contact management system. Contacts, calendar, tasks, notes all need to sync via desktop USB…not just cloud. Give us the choice of HOW we want to sync.

        Tell Ballmer to wake up.

      • Responder is correct WinPhone will NOT sync with Outlook on the desktop via USB. You have to do a kludge cloud to Live mail or Hotmail….what utter nonsense. And they have intentionally disabled the api and sdk so an app can not be written on purpose. phone will lag for this as the lay customer expects a MS product to sync with other MS product…ie Outlook.

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  • Wael Hazzazi

    For the now playing lock screen it is really limited and am guessing you will need to be connected to the internet. so if on a plane it won’t show anything, also if the artist doesnt have a background in zune then the lockscreen will be empty. I experienced that with above & beyond, tiesto and armin. which really sucks. so it still has a long way to go.

    Facebook chat should also gain offline messaging since it is already supported in Facebook and iPhone.

    Pictures auto fix is nice but hopefully they will add crop and other edit options.

  • Henrik

    It still has the works crappy sync ever.
    1- I dont want to be forced to mix Facebook contacts with the rest. G
    2- Sync to outlook with Cable / directly to laptop like before.