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.
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.
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
- 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!
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:
- Shopping locations
- Local activates
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.
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.
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:
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.