I have been excited about Windows Phone ever since it was unveiled at MIX last year. I bought it almost as soon as it was launched (I had to wait to get out of my corporate contract) and there were a lot of things that delighted me like Metro UI, Live Tiles and hubs, despite coming to this platform from iPhone 3GS. But at the same time, as a user, there were many things that annoyed me, some of which were bugs, and some were just the incompleteness of the platform. After all, Windows Phone was in fact a complete reboot for Microsoft in mobile.
Over the July 4th weekend, which was long weekend here in the US, I was able to successfully put the beta 2 of the next version of Windows Phone OS, codenamed Windows Phone Mango (Mango). I am now using it as my primary phone, and already noticing that some of those annoyances (most of them, in fact!) go away!
Videos taken on the phone would end up getting the download/sync timestamp rather than capture date and timestamp. This was highly annoying, because for a trip, I would end up having all the pictures in the correct order, but the videos would get lumped together at the end. I had to then manually fix the date and time by looking at the still pictures taken before and after the videos (thankfully, the filenames are in sequence, so I was able to get approximations ok).
With Mango, the videos still get the timestamp of the download/sync but instead of a generic sequential filename, the videos get named with the capture date and time (up to the second!) in UTC time. So instead of WP_000001.mp4, I now would have something like WP_20110705_134523Z.mp4. Way better!
Image 1: Windows Phone NoDovideo filename
Image 2: Windows Phone Mangovideo filename showing video capture date and time
There was absolutely no way to do anything with videos on the phone; no email, no sharing via MMS, no upload to Skydrive, no upload to Facebook. The only contextual menu option on videos was delete.
With Mango, videos get the same treatment as still pictures. They can be emailed. They can be shared. The only thing Mango does not do is auto-upload in the background to Skydrive. I could choose videos to upload to Skydrive, but it just does not happen automatically. I am ok with that. [Note: It seems like upload to Skydrive is not working in the current build, but I am certain that it’s a problem due to it being a beta. The feature, to upload videos to Skydrive, is here to stay. So yay!]
Image 3: Windows Phone Mangocontextual menu on videos taken on the phone
Image 4: Windows Phone Mangovideo sharing options including Facebook and Skydrive
Jumplist on applications list and Search
After I got my Windows Phone, I had the urge to install new and cool apps as soon as they were released. I did not delete most of these apps, because I wanted to get notifications when they get updated, that way I can keep up with what’s new and when there are updates. The problem for me was that the list of applications became extremely long, and I had to keep scrolling up and down that list to launch an app which I had not pinned. I can use voice to launch an app, and it is quite cool, but I am just not used to launching apps with voice.
With Mango, there is now the familiar alphabetical jump-list like the one which is available in the People Hub, now for applications. This way I can quickly jump to a letter and get all the apps starting with that letter. Better yet, there is also a search button now which allows me to just search (very quickly too) for the app. As Windows Team Blog states, the jump-list is smart, since it shows the alphabets for jumping only when the number of installed apps exceeds 45.
Image 5: Jump-list and Search in Windows Phone Mangoapplication list
In Windows Phone NoDo, the history of a contact was limited to only the call history, and that it wasn’t really a contact history, but more of a call log.
With Mango, we have an extremely rich contact history, which you can get to via the contact card’s history. It groups not only calls in and out, but also all messages (SMS/MMS) and email to and from the contact, neatly split by weeks.
Over-The-Air (OTA) Podcast subscription
Podcasts were only possible to be loaded on the phone via Zune desktop (or the Connector software if you were on a Mac) and nothing on the phone. This was a pain because some of the podcasts that I listen to are daily, and I knew that there was a new episode but I had to wait till I got home and sync-ed with my home PC.
With Mango, I can not only subscribe to and manage my podcasts on the phone, but I can now listen to a one-off episode of a podcast, streaming directly from the Marketplace. Simply superb.
Image 6: Windows Phone Mangopodcast listing and subscription screen, with option to play (stream) an episode
Image 7: Windows Phone Mangopodcast subscription settings details
In addition to these annoyances there are many bugs which have been fixed in Mango, like Marketplace search, Live Tiles notifications (cannot open notification channelissue), bluetooth bugs, etc.
Manan Kakkar has already written about some of the cool new things he has noticed in Mango, and I concur, Mango is in fact a juicy and sweet as a release. There are also some of the new features which are well-written about, and I am genuinely excited about, like Internet Explorer 9 with HTML5, in-built IM, OS-based Facebook chat and OS-based Facebook check-ins, among others.
With new hardware, especially from Nokia, to support this Mango release, we can only get more excited about Fall! I am looking forward to it.