Bryan Soltis

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Posted on August 25, 2011

Six New Windows Phone Features Businesses Will Love

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Update Brings Many Improvements

Microsoft will soon release an update to its Windows Phone 7 operating system, codenamed: Mango. With over 500 improvements, it is sure to enhance user experience and deliver many new features and capabilities.

This article contains a few of the industry-leading features that differentiate Windows Phone from other mobile platforms. Many of the features increase productivity, simplify actions, and are just plain cool.

Jump Lists

Windows Phone 7 is an entirely novel interface and in such has a new way of displaying information. Microsoft’s simplified view is great for putting the most commonly used programs in reach. As applications and contacts are added, the list grows and grows, requiring users to scroll excessively to find their favorite person or program. "Jump lists" enable users to bring up an intuitive "alphabet" list for jumping right to the desired first letter of the name or program. If no contacts or applications start with a letter, that option is simply disabled, allowing users to quickly identify how to get to what they need. This feature will become second nature as users install new applications or add contacts to their "People".

Live Tiles

Windows Phone 7's home screen is designed to present the user with the applications and information that matters most to them. Users can place any application they want on the home screen to allows quick access to maps, contacts, email, and other programs they have installed. Live tiles are an extension of this functionality which allow applications to "live" on the main screen. Weather apps can instantly display severe weather notifications and airline applications can alert the traveler when it's time to check in. Developers can leverage this capability to enable their apps to provide up to the minute information to the user and enhance their experience. This simplifies a user’s experience by not requiring them to drill down into an application to find important information; the application automatically updates itself without any user input.

Voice Recognition

A common feature of previous Windows Phones and other mobile devices, voice recognition has been expanded within Windows Phone 7 to an entirely new level. Text messages can be announced and read. Replies can be dictated, read back for accuracy, and sent, all with using only your voice. At MIX 2011, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Corporate VP, demonstrated a scenario where he was listening to music on his phone, received a text message, replied, and resumed listening without ever touching the phone. The voice recognition allows for verbal searches within Bing and instant feedback. It is definitely a feature that empowers the user with more functionality while reducing the need to physically interact with the phone to perform common tasks.

Enhanced Search

Microsoft has integrated Bing into the core functionality of Windows Phone 7. This integration enables context-relevant information to be instantly available to the user. The Local Scout feature extends this integration by determining the user's location and showing surrounding information. Restaurants with location, hours, ratings, and menus are immediately displayed with a map of the neighborhood.

Area sights and attractions are a tab away with times of operations and directions. All the information a person needs about where they are is displayed in an organized, well-designed interface within the Bing application.

Additionally, you can take a picture of a product and it will find information on it and where to buy it. Text can be scanned and instantly translated. These search improvements are focused on delivering the information users want and need, quickly and efficiently. For the traveling worker, these search capabilities mean less time finding a restaurant or hotel and more time focusing on their business.

Contact Groups

One of the best features in Mango is the ability to group contacts. Before Mango, contacts were an ever-growing list of names and businesses. People can now be grouped into user-defined categories and groups. Favorite people can be added to a new group and then pinned to the start page to allow quick access to the people that matter most.

The groups also combine all the social networking feeds for the contacts allowing Facebook status, Twitter updates, and photos to be viewed quickly and easily in one place. This feature not only saves time by eliminating the need to scroll through all contacts, but also frees up start page space where a user may have placed a tile for each of their favorite people.

Linked Inboxes & Message Threading

Many users have multiple email accounts that they use for business and personal communication. Mango introduces the ability to "link" inboxes so all messages are in one place. As messages arrive, they are noted as to the account they came in from. Responses are automatically sent from the receiving account to ensure consistency. Linking inboxes provides business users one location for all of their communication, eliminating the need to check multiple accounts individually.

In addition, messaging in general has been improved with the introduction of "threading." Messages from a particular contact will be easily viewable, allowing users to quickly see all previous messages to and from the person. Emails are grouped by thread to allow conversations to be viewed in the entirety and simplify the inbox into the minimal amount of information. Email threads also contain a unique feature that pulls in sent emails so users can see their responses as well.

Microsoft has published several videos on the latest update to Windows Phone 7 and all of its features. Below is a video demonstrating many of the items covered in this article, as well as others.

These features are just a small list of the many great enhancements headed for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft continues to demonstrate its commitment to the mobile market by empowering users with new features and functionality to be more productive in their personal and business lives.

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