Microsoft promises smarter and easier communication with Windows Phone 'Mango' update

Microsoft previewed the next version of its Windows Phone operating system, codenamed "Mango" on May 24. The company drew attention to an array of new attributes including deeper social network integration, enhanced live tiles and new web features.

"Seven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more," said Andy Lees, president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft.

"With '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."

The Windows Phone 7.1 OS update includes more than 500 new features.

Mango directs users away from a "sea of disconnected apps" and instead organizes information according to the person or groups of people users want to connect with, said Microsoft.

The new smart search with Internet Explorer 9 includes hyper-local search results for nearby restaurant and shopping recommendations, voice and visual searches (speak or snap a picture of a product to search for it), and Quick Cards - a feature that provides "a quick summary of relevant information including related apps," explained Microsoft.

The OS also includes deeper social network integration with built-in Facebook check-ins and face detection software for quick photo tagging.

Smartphone users who like to send message without using their fingers will be happy to discover integrated voice-to-text support within the new OS.

Microsoft is proudly touting the latest features of its Windows Phone OS update, but many are still accusing the company of lagging behind leading smartphone operating systems such as Apple's iOS and Google’s Android.

The new features are "innovations that well-known companies developed months or years ago," commented the LA Times’ David Sarno critically.

Sarno added that "The Yelp app - on Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry operating systems - has led the way in helping users find nearby businesses. Android phones have had voice search for close to a year. The Shazam app has been the go-to service for song identification. And most smartphones already allow users to run multiple apps simultaneously."

Engadget’s Christopher Trout begged to differ, reporting that "the experience is a bit unlike any other in the OS atmosphere, upending our idea of what it means to search the internet without resorting to standalone programs," after spending some hands-on time with a device running the new operating system.

The updated OS will be included on new Windows Phone devices from fall. Existing Windows Phone 7 customers will be provided with a free update to the new OS said Microsoft but declined to provide a roll-out timeline.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/features/whats-next.aspx

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