Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)
We get our hands on Microsoft's latest smartphone operating system, officially titled Windows Phone 7.5
- Updated live tiles and People hub
- Multitasking now a standard feature
- Best in class social networking experience
- Wi-Fi hotspot feature not available on existing phones
- No Flash support in Web browser
- Really needs a killer phone to take off
Microsoft's first comprehensive software update for the Windows Phone platform was long overdue, but the result is a mobile operating system that’s more than competitive with the market leaders. Though there are some aspects of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango that still need improving, and a number of missing features that could be added, Microsoft has produced a credible alternative to the iOS and Android platforms. Nokia, it's now over to you.
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Windows Phone 7.5: E-mail and messaging
E-mail on Windows Phone 7.5 has added the ability to combine inboxes and has also introduced long awaited threaded messaging. You can still choose to keep inboxes separate if you wish, but the ability to combine inboxes makes for a more streamlined experience. Unlike any competing OS, you can choose exactly which inboxes to combine: as an example, we combined personal Gmail and Yahoo accounts, but kept our work account separate.
The messaging app has also been given a facelift and now combines messages and chats from multiple sources under one contact. If you are exchanging text messages with a contact and then that contact appears online on Facebook chat, you can continue to use the messaging app to chat in Facebook (or Windows Live messenger). We'd like to see more accounts available (Google Talk anyone?), but this is a great feature that no other smartphone OS can claim to provide.
Windows Phone 7.5: Groups
One of the major new features of Windows Phone 7.5 is the ability to create groups of contacts in the People hub. Once a group is created and contacts added to it, you can text or e-mail all people in the group simultaneously, as well as view the latest social networking updates from group members. You can also pin a group to the home screen that will show the latest notifications and contact pictures of each contact.
Given the wealth of information that is displayed in the People hub, a group allows you to separate the contacts you would most like to keep in touch with. Whereas the "what's new" view in the people hub will pull status updates from all of your contacts, a group allows you to see updates that you want to see: these could be from your best mates, your co-workers or a member of your family.
Windows Phone 7.5: Multitasking and other features
Windows Phone 7.5 has finally introduced multitasking. It's very basic in its current form, but definitely a welcome addition. Users simply press and hold down the back key to bring up a webOS-like view of the five most recent apps opened. You can then scroll through these apps and tap one to switch back to it.
As for other features, it's impossible to list the 500 new or improved features of Windows Phone 7.5, but there are a number of tweaks that we've noticed during our play with the software. Among the best we've discovered are:
• The calendar can now display multiple feeds and these can be filtered as you wish.
• You can quickly share a link from Internet Explorer via any linked social network account, e-mail address or text message.
• The camera app now has an on-screen shutter button and you can save any settings you alter within the app.
• You can now load custom ring tones onto your phone, though this can only be done through the Zune PC software client.
• The wireless hot spot feature has been added, but it will only be available on future devices, not current Windows Phones like the HTC HD7 or the Samsung Omnia 7.
• A battery saver feature can be automatically activated when the battery is low, disabling push e-mail and multitasking.
• You can upload pictures to multiple social networking accounts through the pictures app.
Third-party applications are once again downloaded from the Marketplace app. Though the number of apps continues to grow, the reality is that both iPhone and Android handsets have a much wider selection of apps. However, we were pleased to note the presence of most of some popular ones including Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Angry Birds, TripView, Evernote and YouTube.
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