Windows phone users rejoice! After some of the announcements Microsoft made as it detailed the update it has planned for it’s mobile platform, there’s great reason to do so. Microsoft’s development platform will be in developers hands sometime in May, free of charge of course. This gives them ample time to use the platform, get creative and create something engaging before the update hits subscribers handsets.
Pandora subscriber or user? What about Skype? How about Spotify? All of those weren’t available on Windows latest mobile platform. Pandora even stated back in December that it had no plans for a WP7 app. With the update planned expect to see that change. We’ve all heard about the NoDo update fiasco but with the timetable set with developers having the “Mango” update in May and the scheduled availability of fall for users, Microsofts hoping to have a better rollout of the update this time around.
In the Mango update true multi-tasking was shown on the platform with background processing of applications and notably the ability to have audio playback for HTML5 web pages. Developers also have more access to the camera and sensors, giving them more control over the hardware.
Of course talking about something isn’t nearly as good as showing it in action. Microsoft didn’t just talk big they showed some of the new apps that will be available with Mango. For multitasking they showed the Spotify app, which at the moment isn’t even available in the United States (Available in Europe only). The demonstration showed how users can quickly play/pause music and adjust volume without having to close and move away from another application. Given the Facebook integration in both Spotify and Windows Phone 7 the app should feel right at home and it would seem deeply integrated into the platform.
One thing that was apparent during the event was what Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone program management meant by “glance and go” information. The platform is striving to give users an interface where it’s easy to get the information your looking for as stated, at a glance. The tiles shown in the travel app Qantas was a perfect example of showing important information at a glance. The home screen of the app itself displays flight departure time, the ability to check in online and if you think you might not make it the ability to change to a later flight is there as well. The closer it gets to departure time the app automatically will trigger an alarm notifying you, all of this without leaving the apps home screen.
Also included in the Mango update will be Microsoft newest version of it’s internet browser, IE 9 and Microsoft (still alive but barely) Sliverlight 5 technology. One things for sure, with the platform supporting IE 9 and Silverlight, developers have the ability to create rich, advanced and high def content and know it will look beautiful on the mobile platform.
This was definitely a step in the right direction for WP7 and it should prove to keep developers interested. If there’s one thing that sells a phone as we’ve come to know it’s the apps not so much as the hardware underneath, not saying it’s not important but that’s the underlying truth. And with apps like Spotify, Qantas’ travel app, Skype and even the new Amazon bar code scanning app that takes you right to it’s store if a scanned item is available, all shows that Microsoft means business.