IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING but Windows Phone 7.5 (WP7.5), codenamed Mango, is finally here, rolling out from 6pm UTC tonight.
The INQUIRER got hold of an HTC Trophy running Mango this morning and, after fiddling around with it over the course of today, we can say that it's an improvement over Windows Phone 7 (WP7). Just don't go trading in your Android handset just yet.
The thing with Mango is that it's more improved than it is new. There are a lot of updates to its unloved predecessor Windows Phone 7, but not so many totally new features.
Windows Phone 7.5 still has Windows Phone Hubs, a customisable start screen, Windows Phone Live Tiles, Xbox Live, Office Mobile, and Zune. Xbox Live is slightly more integrated, allowing you to see other gamers' scores, but perhaps not integrated enough.
New features include intelligent multitasking, which automatically pauses built-in and third-party apps when you go to do something else, and updates to events that see Facebook events appear on the calendar.
Integration expands to text and instant messages, where you can start a conversation by text then finish on Facebook chat.
Social networking has had a bit of a make-over. New and improved features in the People Hub include built in support for Facebook and Windows Live as well as the additions of Twitter and Linkedin. There's no Google+ on the Mango update, but maybe that was Microsoft giving Google's Android the single-digit salute.
Mango also connects apps to searches, and lets you switch back and forth in apps, so you don't have to shut one down to use another.
The Windows Phone Marketplace Hub includes updates allowing you to search, and companies that develop custom apps for internal use can distribute them on the Windows Phone Marketplace without the apps being visible in the public-facing apps catalog.
Of course the search is powered by Bing, although operators can customise this as they have done in the past. A welcome addition to WP7.5 Mango is the search capability. Users can search for restaurants and things to do using their location, with a feature called 'Local Scout'. Next, is an app that allows you to record music and the handset will then search for it and download it if you are out and about.
Then, there is also the ability to scan text. The phone takes a picture of text and translates it to another language of your choice. Useful in French restaurants.
If you are used to Android or IOS it will seem quite foreign, but WP7.5 Mango is an improvement to its predecessor. Whether the tweaks will be enough to pump up Windows Phone's 1.7 per cent market share is probably down to the manufacturers as much as anything. µ