I have recently had a chance to test drive a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone Mango and so far I am impressed. Not impressed enough to leave my Samsung Galaxy S 4G behind, but impressed enough to go through the trouble of retooling my Android UI to look and behave like Metro. Originally, when Microsoft announced their new push on handsets with Windows Phone 7 I was skeptical, but after having used one for a while I am actually quite surprised that they aren’t more popular.
Probably one of the best additions here is the multi-tasking or rather what they’ve done to make it better. With Mango you are able to switch between different running programs by long-pressing the back arrow on the phone. This brings up tiles of the current screen for all of the apps you have opened at the time. From here you can easily swipe through them and tap to select the one you want. This is something I’ve been envious of since I saw it implemented on WebOS. I would love for this metaphor for app switching to be carried over to Android.
Mango is also bringing some Internet Explorer 9 love to its user-base. On previous builds the browser was based on IE7, a decidedly buggier and less secure version of IE. This brings with it support for HTML5, GPU hardware acceleration, but sadly no flash support and oddly no Silverlight support either. Users will also have the ability to share out to social networks directly from the browser as well. The changes to the browser are minimal but very solid.
As a pretty serious gamer, I was excited to see what would be changing with the XBOX Live integration but sadly not much has changed here from other builds. With phones running Mango you will no longer have to download the XBOX Live Extras pack in order to modify things with your avatar or review your achievements. Other than that there isn’t much to say here.
I had been told that Mango would have direct integration with Office 365 (which I reviewed previously here), and that really piqued my curiosity, but I was unable to try out this feature as I do not have a paid account for 365 which is apparently required for use on the phones. But if you do have an enterprise account for 365 then you should be able to share, edit, and store documents via Office 365 and SharePoint servers from the Office Hub. I work in the tech industry and have worked for many companies that use SharePoint for most of their documentation. Mobile access with deep OS integration like this would have been invaluable to me.
Mango is definitely a step in the right direction on an already solid foundation. I have always admired the UI and every time I’ve used a Windows Phone 7 device it has been buttery smooth. I think that the changes made to the browser and the addition of the app switching tiles are the real highlights of this build: Both add functionality and one adds some serious style. Overall, this update should be a welcome improvement to established and new users. It has certainly impressed me quite a bit.