Microsoft has been playing catch up with its Windows Phone OS for some time now. The company is hoping its latest update, called "Mango," combined with soon-to-be-released Nokia hardware, will make it a viable competitor to iPhone and Android.
"Mango has some truly inspired features that integrate social networks into every aspect of the phone, as well as many others," wrote Ellis Hamburger of Business Insider (Aug. 4).
Hamburger also put together a nice slideshow detailing how Mango works.
I sat down with one of our UI/UX architects, Chris Nicol -- he's been using a Windows Phone since last November -- to pick his brain about Mango.
"I've been using Mango now for about four or five days," he says. "It's a big improvement, a natural step for WIndows Phone. It doesn't quite bring them up on par with Android or iOS, but it brings them a lot closer in a very short period of time."
Microsoft appears to have done its homework, identifying what people typically use their smartphones for: social media. Much of the architecture is deeply integrated with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Nicol told me that a couple days ago he was taking photos with his phone and posting them to Facebook with newfound efficiency. "I took the picture, and with one click I wrote a caption. Another click and it was uploaded to Facebook. It's all built into the operating system, so you don't have to click in and out of apps on your home screen."
Other Mango features Nicol enjoys are:
- Unified messaging: "I can Facebook message people in the same area as I write text messages. If they go offline, the Facebook message I send will go directly into their text message inbox instead. On my end, it's all one messaging thread. It's seamless."
- E-mail inbox conversations: "If somebody sends you four replies, they appear as one e-mail thread in your inbox, with the number of replies indicated beside it."
- Syncing with Outlook: "This is huge for business users. Your entire calendar syncs right into the OS."
Nicol has used iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones and he prefers Mango. "It's a better user experience, all it needs is more apps. But that will come with time," he says.
"Traditionally, Microsoft has taken four versions to get new software products where they need to be," he adds. "Mango isn't there yet, but they're on track to have it polished by Version 2."