If you're a Windows Phone 7 user, or plan to adopt the new Windows Phone 7.5 devices from HTC and Samsung, our earlier session to familiarize you with the Mango update should be of some help. But, what if you're still undecided, and need more reasons to make the leap to Microsoft's updated mobile OS? Perhaps these five features that we are impressed with will make a difference in your final decision.
Facebook was the first social network to be integrated into the Windows Phone 7 framework, but with the Mango update, the party just got livelier. Twitter and LinkedIn have now been added to the list. But this isn't just a simple addition that lets you browse through and reply to your latest social network updates. The integration goes further, such as sharing of photos and images through Twitter or Facebook in a few clicks.
SkyDrive has finally come full circle and makes its way onto Windows Phone with a bang. The cloud service will pave the way for Windows Phone users to grab their files at any given time and location, provided an internet connection is available to synchronize the device with SkyDrive. And to be clear, SkyDrive has been part of the Windows Live service for quite some time, even earlier than what Apple's iCloud service will be bringing to iOS 5.
Furthermore, your Twitter account will be using SkyDrive as the default image uploader. And if you've uploaded an image automatically via SkyDrive, the interface clearly shows you which photos were uploaded via Twitter.
The new Windows Phone website has been revamped to include new sections, such as a web-based Marketplace that lets you shop for apps without using the Zune software. Once you have your eyes set on an app, you can either buy it, or try it out. You won't even need to connect your phone to your PC or even go to the Marketplace within the app, since the app can be sent straight to your device.
Should you lose your phone, there's also the option to locate your phone. But to do that, you'll have to ensure that your Windows Phone device has the feature activated to track its location. Now, you can either ring your phone (should it just be misplaced somewhere nearby), lock it and leave a message on the lost phone for the finder to return it to you, or in the worst case scenario, wipe the phone completely to remove sensitive data.
With over 47 languages now supported on Windows Phone, you can display your Windows Phone in various languages, one of which is simplified Chinese. Microsoft's ultimate aim, is to place a Windows Phone in everyone's hands; and with additional language inputs being introduced, this will open up new avenues for the company to explore.
And finally, you can create a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot with your Windows Phone device. However, this feature is currently only available to new devices with Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. According to Microsoft, its existing devices (which will be receiving the Mango update) won't come with this function for now. Future updates should see this feature being rolled out on its existing lineup. But, this is still dependent on whether the existing devices have the correct hardware (specifically, the Wi-Fi chipset) and the telcos' decision to allow this feature to be activated.
Even with over 500 new features rolled out with the Mango update, there are certain aspects that could have been better.
Firstly, the lack of a screenshot capture function. Right now, only Apple's iPhone has this feature preloaded: simply press the power and home buttons at the same time, anytime and anywhere. Certain Google Android devices do come with this feature, though in general, capturing screenshots would require you to root your device. Alternatively, you could download the SDK; it's a hassle just to do something as simple as capturing screenshots. Honestly, we'd like to see a screenshot capture function, as it'd make our job easier when we want to show you some of the cool features of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango.
Secondly, what Microsoft has introduced for multi-tasking is essentially a sleep-and-wake function, putting an app to sleep when we swap to another app, and restoring its saved state when we return. Of course, apps in the background can still update the Live Tiles and receive notifications. However, what we hope to see, is an option to kill apps selectively within the multi-tasking list.
And lastly, an issue that might only annoy Twitter users is the lack of a "reply all" function for the integrated Twitter account. And while we're at it, it's not exactly easy to include more people in the conversation when you need to painstakingly type their Twitter handles one letter at a time, since there's no auto-complete function.
Nonetheless, what we've seen and experienced on the Mango update, shows much hope for Microsoft's mobile OS. With more partners hopping onto the Windows Phone bandwagon and existing partners bringing new devices to the masses at more affordable prices, all eyes will be on one company next: Nokia. In a few weeks time, we should be hearing more of Nokia's first Windows Phone, preloaded with the Mango update at Nokia World 2011.