Windows Phone 7.5 Mango overview

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango overview
Introduction:

The Windows Phone Mango update has finally landed, and it is time for us to go over some of the new goodies that Microsoft has thrown in the set. Why not all of them? Well, Microsoft went above and beyond with this one and added 500 or so tweaks and improvements to the platform. However, most of them are minor and are not really of interest for the majority of you, so instead of boring you to sleep with technical mumbo jumbo, let us just check out the most significant newly-added features in Windows Phone Mango.

Interface:

So, we fire up our trusty LG Quantum updated to Windows Phone Mango, fresh and ripe. We are greeted by the all-familiar home screen populated by a set of live tiles, and the list of applications is only at a swipe's distance. At a glance, there doesn't seem to be anything new here in terms of visuals, and navigating about feels just as it did before – fluid and responsive. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that as we have always been fond of the Metro UI and its elegant, sophisticated looks.



Multitasking:

Upon holding down the back button, however, we enter multitasking territory – a feature that Windows Phone sorely needed. The task switcher pops-up and gives a side-by-side view of all running applications, so jumping back and forth between apps is as easy as pie. Every opened web browser tab gets its own preview window as well, which is pretty neat in our opinion. Unfortuantely, only up to six tasks can run simultaneously, so the feature turns out to be not quite as potent as one would expect. Besides, only native applications seem to spring back into action without a hitch while third party apps experience a slight delay before resuming. We were also disappointed that a way to close down a a running application from the task switcher is missing. Nevertheless, having some sort of multitasking is much better than having no multitasking at all, right?



E-mail client:

A quick look at the built-in email client shows some significant improvements as well. For starters, email conversations are threaded now, meaning that your conversations get grouped together instead of being treated like individual emails like it was in earlier versions of Windows Phone. Something that we also like is that you can set up multiple email accounts and have some or all of them linked together in a unified inbox.



Twitter integration:

Twitter integration is another perk that Windows Phone Mango brags with, which is why you now get tweets from your buddies delivered straight to your People hub. Some other cool things that can be done now is sharing a photo via Twitter without leaving the gallery and tweeting a web link straight from Internet Explorer. However, it feels kind of weird that the dedicated Twitter app does not come pre-installed, and once we grabbed it from the Marketplace it would not let us log in, probably because it has not been updated for Mango yet. Sure, one would presume that it may not be needed since the social network is now tightly woven into the Windows Phone platform, but we still find it neat using a dedicated client every once in a while to check what the latest online trends are and what strangers around us are tweeting about.



SkyDrive:

Another major feature that has been integrated deeper than before is SkyDrive, which is Microsoft's cloud-based service for storing files and media. Documents, photos, and videos can be easily uploaded to the cloud straight from the device. In addition, all the stuff you have on your SkyDrive can be quickly attached to an email that you are composing on your smartphone. However, we find it kind of strange that if you need to do anything more “advanced” like deleting a file from the cloud or moving it someplace else, you are pretty much out of luck. Managing the content on your SkyDrive requires you to fire up the phone's internet browser and use the web interface of the service. At least, the SkyDrive web site is now powered by HTML5, and Internet Explorer 9, which Mango comes equipped with, has no troubles running it.


Internet Explorer 9:


Besides HTML5 support, Internet Explorer 9 flaunts a brand new JavaScript engine and gets hardware acceleration. As a result, surfing the web is a silky smooth experience without a hint of lag. Pinch-to-zoom works flawlessly, and if you prefer, you can use double-tap to zoom in on paragraphs and columns. The only thing that is missing is Adobe Flash support, and chances of that ever coming to Windows Phone are miniscule as Microsoft has no plans on adding support for the feature anytime soon.



Bing search:

We also noticed that a few cool changes have been made to how Windows Phone Mango searches the internet using Bing. Besides doing a regular web search, you can now look for nearby venues, restaurants, or outlets thanks to a feature called Local Scout. On top of that, Bing now has the ability to scan barcodes and to identify songs in a true SoundHound fashion, which spares the need to get dedicated apps for that functionality. Microsoft has also enabled Bing to scan text with the phone's camera and translate it into another language, but the feature was usable only when enough light was illuminating whatever we were trying to scan.



Minor features:

Some minor tweaks that we find interesting include the ability to add custom ringtones as opposed to being stuck with the boring stock ones, and to take photos by tapping on the smartphone's display instead of using the dedicated shutter key. The addition of video chat support and the Wi-Fi hotspot functionality should also be mentioned, but sadly, both of these features will be present only on the latest Mango devices.

Final thoughts:

And that pretty much sums up our first experience with Windows Phone Mango. The new version of the platform sure seems like a step in the right direction for Microsoft and will likely help the company in its efforts to catch up with the big boys on the smartphone market, at least to some extent. All the new features breathe some new life into the platform and make it seem more potent, more elegant, more capable of getting stuff done than it was before. At the same time, those who have been loyal to the platform for so long will have far less reasons to switch teams now that Mango has been pushed out.

On the other hand, it worries us that a great fraction of what Mango brings to Windows Phone is functionality that the competition has already had for a while. The platform sure isn't anything groundbreaking; it is more like an upgrade that adds features Windows Phone should have already had  in order to gain enough momentum. Android and iOS are still the indisputable leaders on the smartphone field, and it is going to take something more if Microsoft is to reach their enviable market share figures.

Some real high-end devices, perhaps? The ones that captivate smartphone aficionados and show off the full potential of the platform they run. For example, dual-core processors or LTE connectivity are features that are yet to be seen on a Windows Phone device. And let us not forget the significance of software availability. With 25,000 applications in its catalog, the Windows Marketplace is way behind the App Store and the Andorid Market, both of which offer hundreds of thousands of apps.

All in all, with Mango, Windows Phone has gotten closer to the big boys than it has ever been, but that is just one part of the equation. The hardware that it runs on and the amount and quality of software that it offers will also need to be pushed to the next level before Windows Phone can become a real alternative to Android and iOS.

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Video Overview:


FEATURED VIDEO

39 Comments

39. Lofty999

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 22, 2011

Is this an update all windows phones will get? or do you have to buy a new one to get it??

37. mikkybukky

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Wp7 has over 35000 apps in the market place now, and has almost caught up with competition and its not even a year old. Give MS some credit. They hvae really worked their ass off. Am definitely getting Nokia wp7

38. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

Oh, WP7 is hauling ass. But they are not pushing out new phones to some of the biggest carriers (Sprint and Verizon). That could make their profit increase dramatically. The Arrive at Sprint is a mediocre phone (small screen, slow processor, keyboard). Verizon (Ok screen, ok processor) They really don't stand out that much. AT&T and T-Mobile have the big boy screens with the dual cores, etc. People will buy them if they are offered. And they will never know that until they decide to take the jump. Same goes for Sprint, if they decide not to get the phones, it is because Android and the iPhone will give them more money, which they desperately need. Why would they buy WP7 if it doesn't sell? I read an article showing they sold 300,000 units in a year, that is done with Android and the iPhone in a month or so. I just don't see it happening any time soon. That is why I bought my EpicTouch.

35. Phaze0085

Posts: 124; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

I just read how the windows phone doesn't support flash. Does that mean I can't view youtube videos on the Titan? Also, does anyone think it be better to buy the phone unlocked or should I wait till it comes out on ATT?

36. SemperFiV12

Posts: 949; Member since: Nov 09, 2010

You CAN view Youtube videos on ALL Windows Phones... In fact (with Applications available in the Marketplace) you can record videos on your TITAN (or any Windows Phone) and the upload it on Youtube. You can even download Youtube videos so you can view them later on offline. Flash and Youtube are not related. Flash few websites to load content sometimes being crappy advertisements, or interactive graphics.... And if I were you, I would go with the cheapest buy for the phone. The TITAN is a great pick!

32. lubba

Posts: 1313; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Can someone explain to me this "customizing" that users tout on android.

28. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

I think WP7 is just as great as iOS and Android. However, I believe they are lacking in outside community dev teams. A big chunk of smartphone users ( iOS and Android ) loves to modify their Os's by rooting and jailbreaking. I remember consumers threatening HTC that they will boycott the products if the EVO 3D bootloader will be encrypted. Windows Mobile OS has a great future ahead of it. Looks greater if it will have a lot of custom roms for it.

26. SemperFiV12

Posts: 949; Member since: Nov 09, 2010

I am running Mango and it is awesome... It was seriously downplayed in this article, but I also understand the viewpoint. Point is, MS should have had half of the 500 features on the phone when it made its debut. However, PA did not do a great job of reporting honestly (or unbiasedly at least) as Mango and a few of the features truly were heavily downplayed. PS. No mention of threaded chat, deeper social integration, and renewed live tiles!

25. kemjus

Posts: 32; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Alright, I'm coming out of the closet on this one... I'm thinking I may switch to windows from android. I have messed around with all the high end windows phone and in summary... Mango just makes sense... its very simple and smooth.

29. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1257; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Agreed. Android has amazing customizing capabilities but along with that is a more choppy looking interface. Not saying its necessarily laggy, but it just doesn't flow and look elegant.

17. rayjones09

Posts: 149; Member since: Dec 16, 2010

I've mentioned it before but I'm not sure if I've done so on this site. The supposed lack of features isn't the real problem, and here's why. Most of these features that WP7 is thought to be missing are present in Windows Mobile 6.5 and below. Multitasking as well as Copy and Paste were present in Windows Mobile amongst its vast array of features. Windows Mobile had more features than iPhone, so how did it fall behind? One of the primary means was by marketing. The marketing for iPhone (and other Apple products) was more like a branding of a generation while the marketing for Windows Mobile devices (and now WP7) are rare and far in between. Microsoft can run the features race all they want, but that isn't what will necessarily help them gain traction. A successful marketing campaign is needed. If they have that, they can lack features all they want, people will still buy their devices.

12. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Not going to pretend it is a deeply integrated, mature OS just yet. But the experience is near flawless, the Mango updates to all devices shows Microsofts dedication to it's users, and we all know where Windows Phones is headed with WP8 on the horizon. You can purchase a second generation WP and know it will be supported. The lack of expandable memory is mystifying to me, but most other missing features can be forgiven. I would rather it do everything it is designed to do well while it builds into a better OS than it try to do everything all at once and it be a crappy experience. I do kinda agree with Returningto Nokia though- Phone Arena this is a very unimpressive write up for a Feature on Mango. I would like to add WP Central and WM Power User as a great sites to visit for a good write up on the features and abilities of Mango if you are interested in a full run down on what it does as well as what is still doesn't do. It isn't for everyone, but it is a great, smooth operating experience for those that like it.

14. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

Again, I agree with you Snowgator lol. I really think Microsoft needs to push these phones out asap. 4 million iPhones and 30 million GSII's have been sold this far. Who else will be left? Kids in India? This is a bad move from Microsoft, and it is sad because I really want a WP7. And a decent CDMA at that. The one phone I am limited to, sucks. Its not like they were the first to make the smartphone, or have the newest technology (processors, screens, cameras, etc.), so what is the hold up? If they don't hurry, they will be on bottom selling less than 300,000 units like last year. :(

10. karanstyle

Posts: 188; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Same application switching exists with Android as well. Only switching from 1 to another app the Android loads it from starting. Thank god atleast Windows Mango can hold upto 6 app.

5. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

I'll probably sell my EpicTouch when a good Mango phone comes out. Simple is nice.

13. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Hope Sprint even supports it. As they push the iPhone, they used a picture of the Arrive to promote the buy back program that they are using to get more iPhones sold. It is covered in ivy in the picture as if it is a three year old device that is outdated instead of a half year old device that has just been updated to the latest software. Doesn't bode well for Sprints outlook of WP in the immediate future.

15. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

Yeah, that is a crappy commercial anyways lol. I just looked on EBay, and the phone is selling for around 200. In store is 450. They are getting outdated really quick. I hope I made the right move by getting the EpicTouch now, and then selling it, rather than waiting, because it could be months, if not years, until they get a decent one. I don't really understand with the iPhone, the WP7 UI is gorgeous, if you don't like Android or iOS. The icon/grid thing is been there done that, to the point where they are copying off of eachother. I guess a Microsoft rep came into sprint, and has said that a decent WP7 should be in around November. He trained everyone on Mango and from what I heard, it was a good experience.

18. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

THAT is good to hear. I wonder if that LG Fantasy is headed there. I was actually hoping it ends up on Verizon. That would be my loss and Sprints gain.

30. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

Knowing Sprint, Verizon will get it lol. I seriously have the worst luck. I'll hold my breathe. :P

3. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

I'll take this over Android any day

6. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

I agree. Depending on what ICS brings, I'll be switching as more become available. These phones are a great alternative to IOS and Android. They seem to have more catching up to do than most, but when they get there they will be huge.

7. greenroboto unregistered

AGREE Android and Symbian is WWWAYYYYY better than this WP7. WP7 icon looks boooooorinnnnngggggg.... to me, WP7 (metro UI) is just like Microsoft bob*.... *the biggest MS failure... lead by melinda gates....

9. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

Well they just added more support for live tiles. That is always more appealing than just having icons on your homescreen? Sure, it isn't live wallpapers, but it is pretty damn close. Pretty soon developers will be making "toggles" on the tiles, for switching WiFi, GPS, Data, etc. That would be something cool to see. I don't think it is boring at all, but if you want customization, get an Android.

31. Schmao

Posts: 365; Member since: Jul 05, 2009

You are entitled to have your own opinion, but I must disagree on this one. Neither Android nor Symbian are as you put it " WWWAYYYYY better than this WP7." They are different OSs for different customers. Each has its ups and shortcomings. That is the beauty of the Market nowadays. We have choice!

33. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

I agree, there is a vast majority of choice in what OS to go with nowadays. iOS-Standard, Android-Customization, WP7-Fluidity and fast responsiveness.

8. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

is there a reason behind your statement? or it's just as vague as you are?

20. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Why? It's my right to say I prefer WP7 over Android.

23. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

I'm not taking that away from you miz, I'm just asking why is it so. You always bash or underrate android with no reason. I think you should tell us why.

11. sonisoe

Posts: 440; Member since: May 06, 2009

amen..

2. arcq12

Posts: 733; Member since: Oct 13, 2011

is there like a Root or Jailbreak for WP7 phones?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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