Microsoft has previewed the next major release of its Windows Phone operating system. The update, code-named 'Mango', promises more than 500 new features, and will be available free to Windows Phone 7 customers sometime in the Autumn.
Headline new features include the ability to see SMS, Facebook chat, and Windows Live Messenger conversations in the same integrated window, and deeper social networking integration. This will put Twitter and LinkedIn feeds alongside contact information.
The OS will also offer the ability to group contacts into personalised 'Live Tiles' to see up-to-date status updates direct from the start screen, and built-in voice-to-text and text-to-voice support.
Microsoft claims that Mango will give apps a deeper integration with Windows Phone Hubs, and the company says apps will surface when it "makes sense" for them to do so. Improved Live Tiles will give real-time information from apps without the need to open them. Microsoft also claims that its approach to multitasking will allow for quick app switching and strong battery life.
"Seven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more," says Andy Lees, president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft. "With 'Mango,' Windows Phone takes a major step forward in redefining how people communicate and use apps and the internet, giving you better results with less effort."
The new OS will include a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9, and a 'Local Scout' feature that will recommend nearby restaurants and shops. The Bing search engine will also be integrated into the OS.
In related news, mobile technology company Qualcomm has announced that its Snapdragon processors have been selected by Microsoft to supply processors to a new generation of Windows Phone devices.
Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president and group president of Qualcomm, says: "Qualcomm has a long history of working closely with Microsoft and we continue to support the launches of new Windows Phones based on our Snapdragon processors."