How Mango Has Fixed Some of the Annoyances of Windows Phone 7

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!

Video timestamp

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!

Windows Phone NoDovideo filename

Image 1: Windows Phone NoDovideo filename

Windows Phone Mangovideo filename showing video capture date and time

Image 2: Windows Phone Mangovideo filename showing video capture date and time

Video sharing

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!]

Windows Phone Mangocontextual menu on videos taken on the phone

Image 3: Windows Phone Mangocontextual menu on videos taken on the phone

Windows Phone Mangovideo sharing options including Facebook and Skydrive

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.

Jump-list and Search in Windows Phone Mangoapplication list

Image 5: Jump-list and Search in Windows Phone Mangoapplication list

Contact history

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.

Windows Phone Mangopodcast listing and subscription screen, with option to play (stream) an episode

Image 6: Windows Phone Mangopodcast listing and subscription screen, with option to play (stream) an episode

Windows Phone Mangopodcast subscription settings details

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.

iOS 5′s Safari Faster Than IE On Windows Phone 7 And Android’s Browser

 

A few months ago, Microsoft demoed  Mango for Windows Phone 7 and during the demo they compared their browser vs. others. Microsoft did a test between a device running Mango, an iPhone 4 (running iOS 4), and an Android device. During the HTML5 performance demo,  iOS’s Safari did poorly against Mango′s Internet Explorer and Android’s browser. Safari registered 2 frames per second while Microsoft’s Mobile IE scored a 26.

Since then, it hasn’t taken long for Apple to respond. WinRumors reports that in the iOS 5 beta, Safari now outperforms Mango by scoring a 31 when the same test is performed.

iOS 5 Safari HTML5 Test

In Mango, the browser uses hardware acceleration for HTML5 but Apple hasn’t shared plans to do the same. iOS 5 and Mango will ship in fall this year.

 

Windows Phone ‘Mango’ Update Announced; Coming This Fall

The Microsoft Windows Phone Mango’ event has just come to an end, and here is the change-log of Windows Phone Mango update. The next version of Windows Phone Mango’ is a People centricrelease, with the main focus on communication, applications and Internet.

First and foremost, Microsoft has gone ahead and integrated Twitter, Facebook Chat, Windows Live Messenger and other popular social networking sites right into the OS. The new Threads’ feature will bring in all your messages from IMs, Facebook, SMS’s right in one Inbox. Microsoft has also introduced Unified Inbox’, which will allow users to read emails from multiple email ids right in one place.

image

The Live Tiles in WP7 have also been livelier. Individual contacts can be pinned to the home screen, and they will provide the user with real time updates from all the social networks for that particular contact. Multi-tasking on WP7 has also been improved, and now allows users to switch between multiple apps now.

image

All popular Hubs in WP7 have also been enhanced as well. The Pictures Hub automatically tags people to their Facebook profile, when a user uploads a picture on a social networking site. The Xbox hub has been completely redesigned and has been tightly integrated with the Xbox Live service from Microsoft. It now even features your own 3D Avatar. The Office Hub has also been update and now features the SkyDrive and Office 365 features.

image

The browser in Windows Phone has also been updated to IE9. The browser is hardware accelerated, and supports HTML5 as well. The browser also features Quick Card’, which will automatically show movie data without opening a new application or a new webpage. Microsoft also demoed a comparison of HTML5 rendering speed of a Windows Phone running Mango, Android, iPhone and a BlackBerry handset. The Windows Phone running Mango obviously won by a pretty good margin.

Users can also search by just clicking pictures of an object. Applications can now also share data between themselves, allowing users to seamlessly switch between apps.   The Bing Search has also been enhanced, and now allows users to search for apps and/or the web right from the search bar. Voice-to-text and Text-to-voice feature has also been integrated into the OS now.

The Windows Phone Mango update will be available beginning this fall. The Windows Phone Mango SDK is already available for developers for download.

(Feature Round-up) Windows Phone 7 Mango: As Delicious As The Fruit

If with Windows Phone 7, people were skeptical about Microsoft’s long term plans for the mobile market, the Nokia and Skype deals prove Microsoft’s commitment. Everyone I show my Windows Phone 7 device to, seems to love it. A few concerns are raised but the first impression is positive. For all the flack the team has been getting regarding the missing features, there is no doubt that they are working their butts off. The next major upgrade to the platform called Mango is making news since it makes the phone an integral part of daily computing. There are a ton of new features that will allow the platform to compete with Android and iOS on features.

Here’s a list of features in addition to Twitter and Kinect Integration, IE9 (with HTML5) and Multitasking that we know are coming as part of the Mango update:

Tweaks:

  • Toggle Camera shutter sound off/on

The camera shutter sound wouldn’t turn off even if the phone was turned to silent which was a real annoyance for me. With a clear toggle switch, I can now have some fun.

camera-sound-off

  • Bing Maps rotating with direction

Coupled with Turn by Turn navigation and Nokia’s NavTeq technology, Bing Maps will definitely become a USP for the phone. In Mango, we will be allowed to choose whether the Maps rotate as we move or always point North.

maps-north-direction

  • Voice to text for Messaging

Microsoft’s TellMe service that powers voice to text on the phone will be extended to reciting messages to the phone.

voice-to-text

Consumer Features:

  • Windows Live and Facebook Chat under Messaging

The lack of an app for Windows Live Messenger was puzzling more so because Microsoft got a third party developer to release what was called as the official app. Enthusiasts hoped Microsoft would integrate the online chat client in the Messaging app and that seems to be the reason why there was no app. In Mango, WP7 Messaging app will have integration with Windows Live and Facebook chat. When considered with Skype integration, Microsoft will now have good leverage against carriers.

facebook-wlm-chat

  • Group Messaging

The ability to group users together and interacting will be added in Mango, whether this will extend to Facebook and Windows Live contacts with one contact being on WLM and the other on Facebook remains to be seen.

group-messaging

  • Now Playing Artist Album Art as Lock Screen

Imagining the album arts on the lock screen of m Samsung’s AMOLED screen make me want to have Mango now!

album-art-lockscreen

  • Zune Smart DJ support

Apple has Genius, Zune has Smart DJ. Smart DJ uses an algorithm to choose what songs will be played next and when used with Zune Pass, you get to listen to songs similar to your tastes but not in your collection, on your phone.

smart-dj

  • SkyDrive Integration in Office Hub

As a Skydrive user, having to download my documents using the browser seems too much work and frustrating since SkyDrive is Microsoft’s product. With Mango, the Office Hub will list SkyDrive as an option to browse Office documents making our lives a lot more convenient.

office-hub

  • Bing Audio for music detection

Shazam, you have competition.

bing1 bing2-shazam-01

bing2-shazam-02 bing2-shazam-03

  • Turn by Turn Navigation

The AT&T Navigation application works quite well but there are two problems with it:

  1. It belongs to AT&T
  2. You have to subscribe to it

In Mango, Microsoft will add Turn by Turn navigation into Bing Maps much like in Android. Microsoft partnership with Nokia will be playing a crucial role in this feature.

maps-turn-by-turn

  • Bing Vision (search using camera)

An exciting feature that will allow you to point your camera at QR codes, Microsoft Tag, Books, CDs and DVDs and search using Bing. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will be implemented for this and hopefully third party developers will be able to use OCR for their apps.

bing-bar-codes-qr-codes

Enterprise Features:

  • Office 365 integration under Office Hub

Like SkyDrive for consumers, Microsoft’s suite of online productivity Office 365 will be making its way into the Office Hub along with Sharepoint.

  • Lync Messaging Client

Part of the Office 365 suite, a Lync app will be available in WP7 marketplace for download.

lync

  • Conversation view in Outlook

Like the Outlook desktop client, conversation view will be added to the Outlook email client on the phone.

outlook-conversation outlook-thread

  • Pin Outlook folders

The ability to pin particular folders in Outlook will make navigating through emails easier.

With all these features, there is no word on Microsoft’s answer to FaceTime but the Skype announcement said a client for Windows Phone is expected soon. Microsoft will be having a Windows Phone 7 event on the 24th, we should see more details about the phones and platform then.

Sources: WinSuperSite, Windows Phone Dev Podcast (1) & (2), Windows Team Blog, Mango Image