Thursday, October 20, 2011

Windows Phone 7 Roundup: New Features, Nokia Devices

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Set to Offer Sweet Features
For the better part of the last year, Microsoft has been working on its new Windows Phone 7.5, also known as “Mango”. Set to roll out the Mango update for all Windows phones by the end of September 2011, there is a great deal of speculation about which new devices will also come with 7.5 support built right in. So far, the Fujitsu Toshiba IS12T has been confirmed as a new handset that will come loaded with the update, and the HTC Titan and Radar have also been announced as taking advantage of Mango’s features from the get-go. Samsung, ASUS, Dell and Acer are all expected to come out with announcements of their own 7.5 phones as well.

In addition to a more streamlined interface and other quality of life improvements, the Mango update includes a number of enhancements to Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. First up is Bing Audio, which will function a great deal like Shazam and will let phone owners identify songs simply by placing their handsets near speakers. Bing Vision, meanwhile, will use the device’s camera that to scan barcodes, Microsoft tags, QR codes, CDs, DVDs and text. Scanning products will allow users to find prices for them both online and within their local area. Bing will also come with an updated maps interface and turn-by-turn navigation featuring voice directions. Support for multitasking, IE9 mobile and Twitter is also included in the Mango release. Windows phone email will be returning to all devices, allowing greater functionality and syncing of contact lists.

Nokia and the Windows Phone Rumors

One of the hottest rumors surrounding the Windows 7.5 update is that a Nokia phone will soon be launched using Mango. Nokia has now confirmed that their Windows 7.5 device will be released in Q4 2011 and that large volumes of the device would be pushed out in the early part of 2012. Details surrounding the new Nokia handset are still sketchy, but a “leaked” video released on June 30th, 2011 showed a phone called the “Sea Ray” with no physical keys and an indication that it might come with a swipe interface. This is in defiance of the mandate set down by Microsoft, which states that every Windows phone must have a physical Back, Home and Search button, and some speculate the special relationship between Microsoft and Nokia is what makes this possible.
A development video of the N9 from Nokia shows a similar button set and indicates that the Sea Ray may be very close in design. Expectations are that Nokia will have more secrets to reveal about its new Windows phone lineup at Nokia World 2011, which is set to take place on October 26, 2011. For now, those with a Windows device can look forward to an update by the end of November, and Nokia users should only have to wait a few months for a Mango phone.


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