We thought we had to sit through a webcast to hear this, but Microsoft today previewed the next major release of Windows Phone, code-named "Mango," bright and early. This new version of Windows Phone OS, as Steve Balmer said before, will have more than 500 new features as a major update. The "Mango" release will be available for free to Windows Phone 7 customers and is scheduled to ship on new phones beginning this fall. Here are some more details on these new features:
Communications: Easier to Connect and Share:
? Threads. Switch between text, Facebook chat and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation.
? Groups. Group contacts into personalized Live Tiles to see the latest status updates right from the Start Screen and quickly send a text, email or IM to the whole group.
? Deeper social network integration. Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are now integrated into contact cards, and ?Mango? includes built-in Facebook check-ins and new face detection software that makes it easier to quickly tag photos and post to the Web.
? Linked inbox. See multiple email accounts in one linked inbox. Conversations are organized to make it easy to stay on top of the latest mail.
? Hands-free messaging. Built-in voice-to-text and text-to-voice support enables hands-free texting or chatting.
Mango Personal Contact Card:
In addition to making it easy to get timely notifications and updates from apps right from the Start Screen, the ?Mango? release also will surface apps as part of search results and within Windows Phone Hubs. As a result, a useful app is more likely to be right there when needed.
? App Connect. By connecting apps to search results and deepening their integration with Windows Phone Hubs, including Music and Video and Pictures, ?Mango? allows apps to be surfaced when and where they make sense.
? Improved Live Tiles. Get real-time information from apps without having to open them. Live Tiles can be more dynamic and hold more information.
? Multitasking. Quickly switch between apps in use and allow apps to run in the background, helping to preserve battery life and performance.
In addition to including Internet Explorer, the ?Mango? release will have the following web browsing features:
? Internet Explorer 9. A browser based on the powerful Internet Explorer 9 and including support for HTML5 and full hardware acceleration.
? Local Scout. Provides hyperlocal search results and recommends nearby restaurants, shopping and activities in an easy-to-use guide.
? Bing on Windows Phone. More ways to search the Web, including Bing Vision, Music Search and Voice so it?s easy to discover and decide.
? Quick Cards. When searching for a product, movie, event or place, see a quick summary of relevant information, including related apps.
Here is a intro video for "Mango":
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