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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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!
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.
- 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.
- Bing Audio for music detection
Shazam, you have competition.
The AT&T Navigation application works quite well but there are two problems with it:
- It belongs to AT&T
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Part of the Office 365 suite, a Lync app will be available in WP7 marketplace for download.
- Conversation view in Outlook
Like the Outlook desktop client, conversation view will be added to the Outlook email client on the phone.
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