What’s Coming Next For Windows Phone 7

Most Windows Phone 7 users are finally getting the “NoDo” (March 2011) update installed on their phone, so of course it’s now time to start looking forward to the next major update, code named Mango. While NoDo really only provided one big feature for end-users, copy and paste, users will get many more features with Mango.

Here is a list of the significant end-user features that will be coming in Mango, which should be available for current Windows Phones by the end of this year:

Third party multitasking. Multitasking will improve social networking apps like Twitter if they add the ability to get updates in the background. My main complaint with Windows Phone 7 today is that when I start Facebook or Twitter I have to wait until it retrieves the latest updates. Currently, only the apps built-in to Windows Phone 7 can run in the background, which means that while you can play music using the Zune software while browsing web sites, you can not do the same with Slacker Radio. Mango will provide the ability for apps like Slacker Radio to continue playing in the background.

Internet Explorer 9 Mobile. Mango will add a complete upgrade to the Internet Explorer browser that is on the current Windows Phones. The most important part of this upgrade is support for HTML5, which is needed in order to run rich web apps on the phone.

Improved apps menu. Currently with Windows Phone, all of the apps that are the phone appear is one continuous list in the app menu, which you have to scroll through in order to find and run an app. While you can pin apps to the Start screen to speed up the process of starting your favorite apps, pin to many and you end up with the same problem as the app menu. Mango will add the same indexing feature to the app menu that exists in the People hub, so you will be able to access an index of letters that you can tap to quickly jump forward in the list.

Mango will also provide more tools for developers to write apps for Windows Phone 7. For example, Skype is currently not available for Windows Phone because it doesn’t support TCP/IP sockets, which is needed in order to run Skype. Mango adds sockets, along with more ways to access hardware sensors, push notification support, and alarms integraiton.

Obviously, all of the additions that Mango will bring are needed in order to improve Windows Phone 7. It is unfortunate that most of the features simply bring Windows Phone up to the baseline for smartphones established by Android and the iPhone. I think it is even more unfortunate that rather than releasing parts of Mango as separate updates throughout the year, Microsoft is opting to bundle all of these features up in an upgrade will have to wait for most of the year to get.