So around 2:30 AM on 10/7/2011 I was able to update my Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 7.5, codename Mango. There has been a lot of buzz around Mango because they truly optimized a number of items as well as included a number of user requests that we have been asking for a while. While there are some things people would like to see here is a list of things that I noticed right away that I instantly started to like!
1. Custom Ringtones
Now for many of you Custom ringtones is something EVERY phone has. When Windows Phone launched back in November 2010 it was oddly missing. Microsoft said, “But we have all these great included ringtones. Why would you want something else?” Which is interesting since the toted experience of Windows Phone is “Have it your way!” (Sorry Burger King). And sure there was an Operating System logic that made Custom Ringtones a little tricky, but to not include it seemed a little bit drastic. Luckily we are able to play whatever popular song we want as a ringtone … with a little work.
Here is how it actually works:
- The ringtone has to be in mp3 or wma (windows audio) format
- The ringtone has to be less than 40 seconds
- The ringtone has to be less than 1 meg in size
- The file cannot be under Digital Rights Management (DRM)
- The file needs to include in the genre field a category of “ringtone”
So it’s not as simple as “Here’s my song, make it my ringtone!” But if you take a second to launch a GoldWave, Audacity, SoundForge, or any other audio editor you can have your own ringtones. This process may seem complex, but it has been the same process for custom ringtones in most Windows Mobile devices since 4.5. Once they are on your phone enjoy custom ringtone goodness!
2. Tasks Finally Link!
When Windows Phone was launched there was a shock to the world. No Outlook connection. You needed to move everything to Windows Live and move “To the Cloud!” So we lived with that idea, but when you moved to the could you lost a key piece of functionality: Tasks. Even if you synced with an Exchange Server you couldn’t sync up Tasks. Why? I don’t know, but it seemed like a key piece of functionality gone. However, It has returned with Mango! And this is good.
To locate tasks you need to visit your Calendar. And depending on the Calendar that you choose (Outlook, Windows Live, Google , Facebook, Yahoo) will depend on where your tasks are stored. Now there is a list of all your activities you need to do displayed in a new Pivot Panel title “To-Do List”. Now only if I can link my Remember The Milk account I would be in total geek love.
3. App Searching is faster and more grouped
So installing apps and trying to find them were a beast in Windows Phone, especially if you installed a bunch of apps. Sure you could pin them to your start screen, but even that was cumbersome. Now … the Applications Screen is grouped alphabetically and even has a nifty search button you can use to locate the app you want. No longer do you have to scroll through page after page to get to your infrequent applications. This makes life so much easier
4. Office.Live.com is Finally Connected!
Previously the Office application was cool on Windows Phone because of the extensive ability you had to manipulate documents and resend them back to users. Dealing with email attachments was awesome, but if you wanted to collaborate “In the Cloud!” it was a little more difficult. Microsoft introduced “Office Live” which was a service of Windows Live that allowed you to share documents “In the Cloud!” It synced up great with Office 2007 (with a plugin) and 2010 (natively). The problem? Windows Phone didn’t allow you to do the same thing. The only way to collaborate was if you had a SharePoint server and managed your documents that way. Still a great idea, but requiring people to move to Windows Live for you contacts, email, and calendar is silly if you don’t included tasks and documents.
But now that has been rectified. If you use Office Live now you can see and manipulate your documents. As well as it has the function to use Office 365 the new collaboration tool Microsoft is pushing out for small businesses. Finally a true document collaboration solution!
So at the get go Windows Phone was super easy to connect to Windows Live, Yahoo, Google, Exchange Online and Facebook. Probably one of the easiest experiences to install over any other device, but it was lacking. Twitter and LinkedIn were not available, and alas you couldn’t develop connectors to make them available. However, with Mango … we have integration. And even better we have tools to create connectors for other sites if the developers want to create them.
So your contact list can contain your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook contacts and integrate them with your Exchange, Windows Live, Yahoo and Google contacts. And since they can all be connected in one account you will never lose that important information provided by your contacts. So if you are a Social Media aficionado you can have access to what is important quickly and immediately. And if you do not want to view all your contacts in your lists you can filter out the contacts that you want to see without losing the ability to stay connected with them through these other sites.
Finally, there are a number of cool features and upgrades presented in Mango that I will most likely discuss later, but these are the ones that jumped out immediately. And as a developer of Windows Phone Applications … I’m sure I’ll talk about some of the cool behind the scene things you can do as well. For those of you with Windows Phones … party on and welcome to Mango!