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Windows Phone 7 Mango in-progress hands on shots

As well as getting all of the relevant info on Windows Phone 7 Mango (aka 7.5 aka 7.1 aka 7.Whatever) from the horse’s mouth (and elsewhere) we were able to get a few snaps of Mango in action on a Asus development handset and an HTC 7 Trophy.

Seeing as Mango is going to be a free update for existing Windows Phone 7 phones (as well as the new ones coming out later this year) we thought you’d like a little look-see.

We weren’t able to get some hands on time with everything we’d have liked; the music search tool that we heard about in the conference sadly isn’t ready for demoing yet. But we were told that this was all on course for being ready for that fabled autumn release date.

Overall we’re impressed with how Mango is shaping up. That clear clean WP7 interface is more or less unchanged from the one we already know and love.

Microsoft has basically made it much easier to stay in contact with people by adding things like group text messaging and aggregating all conversations from the same contact into one thread. So in other words, you’ll see all Facebook and Twitter DMs, text messages and emails from the same person linked in one conversation.

Another thing we liked was how Facebook events could be integrated to the phones calendar, like we’ve seen on the INQ Cloud Touch Android phone.

There’s a few other nice things that Microsoft has bunged into Mango, like the ability to tag friends in pictures before you upload them to Facebook and improved Bing search. Click through for some hands on shots of the ripening Mango in action and snaps of slides from Microsoft’s presentation.

Rather than having to copy and paste text and send to four different friends, you can now gather contacts under groups and send the word out to everyone under that umbrella. A nice, simple time-saving feature.

Groups can also be pinned to the homescreen, giving you the option to message everyone a la speed-dial if you want. This would be a ideal for messaging bandmates, people you’re holidaying with or working on some kind of project on.

You can now tag people in pictures and add captions before uploading your snaps to Facebook. You can’t yet upload entire folders or albums at once, so anything you do will be uploaded one at a time. Still, we like the ability to snap, tag and upload pictures seamlessly – perfect for auto-drunk-friend-embarrassment.

Bing search has been much improved, with any relevant apps (like Coffee Craze seen here) will be displayed. A simple click on the app will take you through to the download page on Windows Marketplace. Nice.

Next to the Profile and What’s New? sections of a contact in the People app will be a history of the number of times you’ve called or messaged someone or vice versa. Useful if you’re in the kind of relationship where you need to prove your commitment by the number of messages you send on a daily basis.

Something we got to see in the presentation but unfortunately couldn’t get any hands-on time with was this; every Facebook event you subscribe to gets automatically pinned to your Windows Phone’s calendar. If there are any clashes, like this one here, it’ll ping you a warning telling you that you won’t be able to make it.

Another thing we spotted in the presentation but couldn’t get any hands on time with was this – as you can see from the pic above, Mango will aggregate messages people sent to you from a Facebook, texts and (we were told) Twitter. That way you can keep track of whatever people are saying without having to check back and log in to multiple places.

Another shot of the group text messaging in action, demonstrated by Microsoft’s Nick Hedderman

When demoing the new improved Bing Search, Hedderman raised a few laughs when he started looking for ‘information about my favourite footballer’.

What’s of more interest to us is that music icon at the bottom-middle there – this launches the Music Search option. This is Windows Phone 7’s equivalent of Shazam or TrackID. Tap this icon to launch it when a tune is playing and Music Search will attempt to identify it. If successful you’ll be able to follow a link from where you can download the song.

That eye-shaped icon to the left launches the Visual Search tool; a kind of barcode scanner/Google Googles style app. This will allow you to scan barcodes/take pictures of products and search for items online in the same way that iPhone’s Red Laser and the Android Amazon Shopping apps do.

Just out of shot: the new Windows Phone 7 Super Injunction button.

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