Microsoft is beginning to give details on its next major update to its Windows Phone 7(WP7) operating system. The update, codename ‘Mango’, is set to arrive on WP7 handsets later this year.
During the MIX11 developer conference, the head of Windows Phone Program Management, Joe Belfiore, said that Microsoft was hard at work on creating a platform that will help sell more applications to engaged users. “The next release of Windows Phone represents the evolution of our strategy for ensuring that developers are at the forefront of ‘what’s next’ by investing in even richer customer experiences, a powerful application platform and a thriving ecosystem.”
Here are a few highlights of the new features we can expect in ‘Mango’, as reported by ZDNet:
- Updated User Interface. ‘Mango’ will feature an updated user interface with the intentions of “making it easier for the user to launch, to search, to find, to buy and to install” apps, Belfiore noted. WP7 users will be able to see more app reviews, app screen-shots, and related apps.
- 25% improvement in memory efficiency. Microsoft also showcased two phones, one with Mango and one without, and demonstrated the memory and speed differences. While swiping through the Facebook application on both phones, Facebook loaded faster on Mango, swipes through pages appeared smoother, and memory consumption was less. On the phone without Mango, the Facebook app used 35MB of memory while the phone with Mango only used 28MB.
- Support for deep links into application content. For example, if you use Bing search on your handset with Mango, you will see apps in the search results as well as a link to relevant content in the app.
- Better multitasking. Windows Phone 7 will have background processing, support for audio and file transfers, and fast switching between your favorite applications. Belfiore demonstrated this cool feature by showing how he can easily switch between Skype video calling, Spotify music player, and the Angry Birds game. On a side note, the Angry Birds game will be available for WP7 handsets on May 25th.
- Live Agents. Windows Phone 7 will also have a new multitasking feature called ‘Live Agents’ which will allow developers to run scheduled background services that are ‘battery-friendly.’ These Live Agents will be responsible for updating the Live Tiles and managing the device and network events.
- IE9 on Windows Phone 7. The update will bring us Internet Explorer 9. It will be based on the same codebase as the desktop version of IE9 so users can enjoy the benefits of HTML5 on their handsets.
- 16 new languages supported. Mango will bring us 16 new languanges to Windows Phone and allow for better typographic support for Asian languages.
- Augmented Reality apps. This neat little feature will allow developers to tap into the raw camera data and the motion sensor to build what Microsoft calls ‘augmented reality apps.’
The developer tools for Windows Phone will be available in May of this year.
Microsoft screwed up a while back when delivering its ‘NoDo’ update and learned from its mistake. As Belfiore states, they “expect to get good at this” for future updates.
There are also rumors that Nokia might launch its Windows Phone 7 based handsets during the Fall of this year, but this is mere speculation. We will have to wait and see. As far as the Nokia-Microsoft partnership goes, Belfiore mentioned that “the platform is credible and growing quickly, and the Nokia deal is helping. We’re making progress on the engineering end.”
Stay tuned as we keep you updated on any late breaking news regarding Windows Phone 7.