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The Embargo Is Lifted- Mango Is Revealed And It’s Glorious!

If you’re awake you just saw the web get flooded with blogs that are detailing Mango and based on the fact that they all hit at the same time, it’s pretty clear they were under embargo until midnight. But that’s passed, so what have we learned that’s new?

First off, it appears as though Gizmodo gizzed from Mango (too easy- sorry):

It feels alive. Everything bounces. Everything swoops. Everything flips. Every single action is lushly animated. It just doesn’t sweat the details-blood was spilled. The lock screen isn’t a simple shade. It has a sense of weight and gravity; the further up you drag it before you let go, the faster it slams back down (if you don’t go through with the unlock). It’s almost like the phone is happy to be alive. Which kind of makes you feel happy to use it. No other phone is like that.

…it’s striking how much more connected to people Windows Phone now feels than any other phone, even Android

I’ll say this: Pending some killer Nokia hardware or radical Android redesign, I think the choice this fall for all but the nerdiest of nerds is going to be very simple. iPhone or Windows Phone. Nothing else is that pleasant.

All Things Digital says that there is in fact visual voicemail in Mango and they state “Microsoft is still playing catch-up with Mango, adding things like visual voicemail…” Sweet

The “Me” tile was revamped a lot. The current one I find quite frankly useless. Winrumors states:

Microsoft has updated its me Windows Phone tile to include the ability to check-in, set IM status and check Windows Live and Facebook notifications. Facebook users will be pleased they can now see their notifications natively on the device. The Me Tile has also been updated on the Start screen to include more dynamic information: status updates,photo updates, check-ins, missed calls, new SMS, email, IM, or voicemail.

In a bit of a surprise, Pocketnow detailed how the turn-by-turn navigation works and it’s not what I thought it would be.

The voice prompts do not play automatically as you navigate! I know it’s ridiculous and unintuitive, but here’s how it works. Start the directions like you normally would from any location. It will show a small map and the list of directions. Tap the screen once anywhere and it will speak your instructions for the first turn, or sometimes the first few turns if they are within close range. As you drive, a small confirmation sound will play every time you make a correct turn. If you make a wrong turn it will make a different sound and tell you that if you want to calculate a new route to tap the screen. Also while you’re driving, whenever you want to hear voice instructions for the next turn, just tap the screen anywhere.
At first I thought that would really suck, but you don’t have to tap a specific area of the screen to hear the voice instructions. Just tap anywhere, you don’t have to look at it. So in real life, it’s actually not bad at all.

They also note that birds’ eye view and street-view are still not present in WP7…uhm 7.5 I guess. And yes, that means that the iPhone version still has features the Windows phone version lacks.

We also learn that on copy and paste the icon doesn’t leave the keyboard bar – it just sneaks out a bit so you can see that swiping will bring it back.

Paul Thurrot, who has been criticized for criticizing Windows phones is sold on Mango as well.

Windows Phone is so successful, architecturally, and from a user experience standpoint, that Microsoft was able to build off its firm foundation for Mango, or what we might consider the v2 release of Windows Phone. In this sense, Mango is to Windows Phone as Windows 7 was to Windows Vista, an evolutionary update that somehow manages to be much more impressive than its predecessor through an amazing array of relatively minor changes. Just as Windows 7 wouldn’t have been possible without Vista, Mango wouldn’t have been possible without Windows Phone 7.

He also notes that a lot of changes were subtle from cleaning up inconsistent UIs to making options more obvious. They also updated the People Hub to make more sense:

In Mango, if you look up a contact in the People hub, you see it all–social networking posts and photos, all in the same place, plus a complete communication history you’ve shared with that contact.

And some nice mail updates:

Mail also gets the nifty Conversation view that first appeared in Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2010, but it doesn’t require a Microsoft mail solution on the back-end. So you can use Conversation view with Gmail, for example. You can also pin individual email folders to the Mango Start screen, providing yet another unique new instance of the Mail app, one which opens to a specific folder.

And bring on the gore:

This hasn’t gotten a lot of press, but you can finally set parental controls on games, not that I’ve seen much in the way of racy Windows Phone games yet.

Oh and All Things Digital and Pocketnow were using a Samsung Focus with Mango – yeah. So that is in testing. They can’t push current updates to all Focus’s (Foci?) but Mango is a go. Go figure.

Contacts also got some nice tweaks that we hadn’t seen much of (from PocketNow):

Opening up a contact will reveal some new features as well. First, on their profile section, if the person happens to have a Windows Live Messenger and/or Facebook instant messaging account, instead of just being able to text them, it will say "text + chat". Tapping that will go into the messaging interface which combines texting with instant messaging so that you’ll be able to send them messages using a variety of methods.

There’s lots more and it’s all a question of how closely you have been following this stuff to see how much of this is ‘new’ but you can see that the aggregate of all of the pieces seems pretty impressive. And here’s a list from Paul about what changed from WP7 to WP7.5.

Anyway, pretty exciting shit and it seems to justify what we were all hoping would happen. Let’s let Paul close this for us:

And while Mango doesn’t address some of the shortcomings from v1, it adds so many useful new features, and fixes so many of the early complaints, that I’m finding it hard to criticize this release with any enthusiasm.