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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: hands-on and first impressions

Today Microsoft rolls out its latest Windows Phone update. Version 7.5 or ‘Mango’ as it’s been code named is a significant update, which brings a host of new features, we’ve been trying the update on the HTC 7 Trophy. Before we bring you a full review here are our  favourite features and first impressions.

People

Communication is now a lot slicker, one of the main changes is the ability to sync People Feeds, so everything is displayed in a single feed or you can just view Twitter.
Contacts can now be separated into Groups, such as those for work colleagues and friends, which you can pin to the Homescreen. You can also choose how to communicate – be it by phone, email or SMS. If you don’t have information on each method for each person, it will automatically select the correct one.
You can also see photos displayed on friends social networking feed
Finally for anyone who uses IM messaging, you can start a message on IM (for example) and continue the thread through to Facebook messaging, as long as the person is online. Microsoft also confirmed Skype messaging is coming.

Email has been improved dramatically, you can now sync accounts or view them all in a single feed and post to multiple accounts.


Browser
Bing is still the built-in search engine, it runs Internet Explorer 9 with HTML 5 support, which means you can play back rich content like video, although we weren’t able to run Flash videos. Elsewhere you can also pin pages to the home page, although for some reason this didn’t seem to work in our version – although this could be a network issue.

Bing Music seems a bit like Shazam – detecting a tune and letting you buy it via Market Place. Bing Vision lets you scan QR codes or translate text in a foreign language.  It works very quickly, instantly detecting web links and unlike Android, you don’t have to download any extra apps.

Apps
Microsoft has worked closely to develop apps that integrate closely with the Windows Phone 7.5 UI. For instance in The Guardian app you can pin your favourite section to the home page, so if you are real tech fan you can choose to have a quick launch tile there. Even better, it’s a Live tile, which means it updates with the latest headlines automatically

XBox Live
In XBox Live there have been a few tweaks, including a dancing Avatar and you can now see what friends are playing and compare scores

Other features:

Music controls are larger on the homescreen and it also supports customised ringtones, should you want to answer your phone to Adele, or maybe not. Calendars are colour coded – including your Facebook events, and you can even access your wall. Finally Multitasking is a very welcome addition.

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Updates

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango now lets you choose where you can post updates – either to Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn individually or in groups.

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Email


Windows Phone lets you sync a selection of accounts, including Yahoo, Hotmail and POP email accounts. Now for the first time you can choose to link your email accounts, into a synchronised Inbox, alternatively you can have more then one – perhaps one for Gmail and Hotmail and one for work.
Also new is Conversation View, where you can view a quick list of your email and support for Protected Emails, which you aren’t able to send.

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: People

There have been some really useful changes to the way information in your feeds is displayed. You can choose to display information from all feeds (as above), or specify whether its Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter or Linked In etc.

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Groups

Contacts can now be separated into Groups, such as those for work colleagues and friends, which you can pin to the Homescreen. You can also choose how to communicate – be it by phone, email or SMS. If you don’t have information on each method per person, it will automatically select the correct one.

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Friends photos

You can also see photos from your friends social networking feed

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Bing Music

Bing Music functions a bit like Shazam – if you hear a track you like it not only detects it, but directs you to the Marketplace to buy it. Interestingly if it doesn’t find a match it says: ‘We can only recognise recorded music, but not live performances or humming.’ just in case.

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Local Search

Launch Bing and it will use your phones on-board GPS to detect your location. At the bottom of the browser are four icons. Local Search lets you find things of interest in the local area including: Eat and Drink; See and Do, Shop and Highlights. Tap on something of interest and you can get the address, directions, phone number and website.

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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: Multitasking

One of the most welcome new features is Multitasking. It doesn’t support full multitasking like the Blackberry Playbook, where applications continue to run in the background. Here when you leave an application it pauses then you hold down the back button to swap between thumbnail multiple applications.

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