Microsoft shows off new "Mango" update to Windows Phone 7 – Here is what to expect from your future Nokia phone

Microsoft yesterday evening previewed the next major release of Windows Phone, code name “œMango,“ through a series of media events around the world, including Cape Town with its “Dev Days” event. “œMango“ will deliver more than 500 new features to the Microsoft smartphone experience around communications, apps and the Internet. Nokia’s recent adoption of Windows Phone also means that their upcoming devices will ship with Mango out of the box, called Windows Phone 7.1.
The Mango release will be available for free to Windows Phone 7 customers and is scheduled to ship on new phones later this year.  Windows Phone 7.1 will also add support for additional languages; expand access to apps by launching Marketplace in South Africa, and partner with new OEMs to enable this expansion. This means that SA Windows Phone developers will not need to use portals like Yalla Apps, and have more control over their app submission process.
“œSeven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more,“ said Nazeer Suliman, Consumer and Online Lead at Microsoft. “œWith Mango, Windows Phone takes a major step forward in redefining how people communicate and use apps and the Internet, giving you better results with less effort.“

Communications: Easier to connect and share

According to Microsoft, the smartphone experience can be complicated by a sea of disconnected apps and accounts as people attempt to keep pace with all the ways they communicate ““ from calls, texts, email and IM to status updates, Tweets, check-ins, photo posting and tagging.  To help people stay on top of that growing complexity, the Mango release organizes information around the person or group people want to interact with, not the app they have to use.
“¢       Threads. Switch between text, Facebook chat, and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation. With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Skype, hopefully it will include the IM giant’s protocol as well. This will function similiar to how Blackberry currently aggregates all messages in one inbox, only for IM and texting.
“¢       Groups. Group contacts into personalized Live Tiles to see the latest status updates right from the start screen and quickly send a text, email or IM to the whole group.
“¢       Deeper social network integration. Twitter and Linked In feeds are now integrated into contact cards, and Mango includes built-in Facebook check-ins and new face detection software that makes it easier to quickly tag photos and post to the Web. This means that WP7 will be able to detect who is in your photo, and “pre-tag” the photo, which you only have to confirm.
“¢       Linked Inbox. See multiple email accounts in one linked inbox (like Blackberry). Conversations are organized to make it easy to stay on top of the latest mail.

A smarter approach to apps

Windows Phone will challenge the way people think about apps. Today their usefulness is measured by what can be done within the app, but we see the promise of apps in how they can be integrated directly into the core experiences of the phone. In addition to making it easier to get timely notifications and updates from apps right from the Start Screen, the Mango release will also surface apps as part of search results and within Windows Phone Hubs.  As a result, a useful app is more likely to be right there when you need it.
“¢       App Connect. By connecting apps to search results and deepening their integration with Windows Phone Hubs, including Music and Video and Pictures, Mango allows apps to be surfaced when and where they make sense.
“¢       Improved Live Tiles. Get real-time information from apps without having to open them.  Live Tiles are more dynamic and can hold more information. (Sure beats the current static icons that Apple iOS currently uses)
“¢       Multitasking. Quickly switch between apps in use and allow apps to run in the background while helping to preserve battery life and performance. This will function in a similiar fashion to Apple’s iOS implementation, with apps going into a sleep state in the background, with only certain key thread processes being allowed to run – like GPS or instant messaging.
Taking the Internet beyond the browser

In addition to including Internet Explorer, the Mango release will connect the power of the Web to the unique capabilities of your phone, such as location awareness, camera and access to apps, to present a new way of viewing the Web that is more localized, actionable and relevant.
“¢       Internet Explorer 9. A browser based on IE9 and including support for HTLM5 and full hardware acceleration.

The Nokia Connection:
As ZDNet points out, all of these features seem to point to Nokia’s adoption of Windows Phone 7. The broader language support is essential for a company like Nokia, with its massive global reach, and the shipment dates for Mango and Nokia’s new generation Windows Phone devices are both around Q3 2011. While Windows Phone 7 might not be very popular right now (especially in SA, it still does not have the marketplace here), Microsoft can expect massive inroads with Nokia’s help in future. I am already drooling at prospect of a Nokia E7 form factor combined Windows Phone 7.