Preview: Windows Phone 7 Mango edition
- — 29 October, 2011 22:00
|Name||Smartphone OS: Windows Phone 7 Mango edition|
|At a glance:||Twitter and LinkedIn support,Contact groups,Facebook calendar support,Multi-tasking|
|Summary:||Updated to Mango, Windows Phone 7 is now a polished operating system.|
The recent iOS 5 launch highlighted several interesting additions to Apple’s app-focused operating system, such as the new Siri voice command interface, available only on the iPhone 4S. In contrast, Microsoft’s new Mango version of Windows Phone 7 (which is actually version 7.5) helps fulfil that platform’s promise of helping people focus on the tasks they want to accomplish and the information they want to receive, rather than the apps they run.
Microsoft has targeted social networking and contacts in this update. For a start, it fixes the most glaring issue with earlier versions of Windows Phone – incomplete support for social networking and difficulty with multitasking – and now supports Twitter and LinkedIn.
A new profile pane for each contact shows a combined history of your communications with that contact, whether it be via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or text messaging. A new pictures pane shows the photos that each contact has posted to Facebook and Windows Live. In addition, the new Me tile lets you see at a glance all the recent updates from your contacts on multiple social networking services.
Another welcome change: you can hold a single conversation with someone across multiple communications services. For example, if you start a conversation with someone on Facebook chat, you can continue that same conversation via text messaging.
And you can now place your contacts into groups – family, colleagues and so on. You can send out a single message to the entire group in several ways. You’ll also be able to see the combined social networking updates of everyone in the group at a glance.
Facebook integration has been strengthened, so events from Facebook are now included in your phone’s calendar. However, you can’t make changes to the Facebook events from the calendar – you’ll have to head to Facebook for that.
Each of these changes to social networking is useful, but what really counts is the cumulative effect. Use Mango for a while, and you’ll find yourself more easily focusing on the content of your communications with others, and less on the mechanics of communications.
With Mango, Windows Phone joins the other major phone platforms in allowing a form of multitasking. You can now easily switch between running apps by pressing and holding the Back button. If all the open apps don’t fit on one screen, you can swipe to see others.
Windows Phone has always included voice commands, but you can now compose text messages and instant messages using your voice; Mango also will read text to you. But there’s nothing in Windows Phone that comes close to the new Siri feature in iOS 5, which performs complex, multistep tasks by voice alone.
All in all, Mango is a significant upgrade to Windows Phone, and it brings out even more of the platform’s strengths, notably the way in which information is brought to you, rather than you having to go out and search for it. With Bing’s new features, and other improved functionality such as multitasking, Windows Phone is now a polished operating system.
Those with existing Windows Phone devices will welcome the upgrade. As for those buying a new phone, if you’re looking for a smartphone with a task-based approach rather than an app-based one, you’ll find Windows Phone 7.5 Mango to be a solid OS.