Well, I have had about 24 hours with Mango Beta 2 for Windows Phone 7 and wanted to share with you some of my first impressions of this forthcoming update for this mobile platform. While it’s speculated for a September release, I could easily see this being delayed to October or later by the carrier testing and approval process.
So, what’s new in Mango?
Well, let’s first cover integration. In Mango, there is all new integration with Twitter, Facebook Chat and Windows Live Messenger (or MSN Messenger for the old timers out there). The integration with these services work through your Windows Live account as an intermediary service (so you don’t directly access or receive content from these services but instead they are aggregated through Windows Live). Furthermore, in the case of Facebook Chat, it will also enable Windows Live Messenger on your computer to interface with your friends on Facebook using its chat service.
However, there are some limitations.
Firstly, you can only have one Twitter and Facebook account provisioned on the phone. Whilst the limitation for Facebook is nothing new there is still a functional gap for owners of Facebook pages (as you still cannot post something on your page as your page from within the People hub). Regarding Twitter, most people will be fine with just one account but for those with multiple accounts (such as myself where the blog has its own account) it is a gap that needs to be addressed. However, if you have several Windows Live accounts you can add multiple accounts (although the first account you add to the phone will be the primary account).
Another new feature that sprouts from the People hub is the concept of groups. You can now group contacts however you wish and assign a name to them (“family” is the first one you’ll see on the device but you might create other groups). You can then pin a live tile to your home screen and see updates (such as tweets, Facebook status updates, photos, etc) specific to the members of that group across all of the services that they utilise (and of which the phone has been made aware).
Moving on, there has been one bugbear regarding the camera and the “feature” which prevented your customised settings from being saved upon exiting the camera application. Under Mango Beta 2, you can now save your camera preferences which will stick even if you exit the app or restart your phone. Looks like I’ll have to get out of the habit of disabling the flash and turning on anti-shaking, wide dynamic range and matrix metering now.
One improvement which is bound to be music to your ears (pardon the pun) is the introduction of customised ringtones. You’ll need to add them using the Zune software and then updating the genre for your ringtones to “Ringtone”.
From here, simply sync your ringtones to your device (I made it easier by grouping them into an album) and they will show up under a “Custom” section at the top of the ringtone list.
One other thing I’d like to mention is the support for multiple calendars, particularly for Google accounts. A while ago, I wrote about how this was another functional gap and how you could prepare your Google account to work with Mango as soon as it became available. The good news is that this functionality works as expected in Mango Beta 2 and should make its appearance in the finalised version barring any major problems.
Granted, it’s only been a day but my upgrade experience has been mainly positive while further diversifying the user experience from other mobile operating systems on the market today.