Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)



New Release Expands Device Markets and Opportunities for Developers

In late September, Microsoft launched the new release of Windows Phone 7.5 code-named “Mango.” In addition to changes in the Windows Phone software, the Mango release will be available on more devices through ATT and Nokia. The Windows Phone 7.5 Mango release offers some cool new features for users but also includes a number of developer requests. In addition, Microsoft added new features and tools that make it easier for developers to monetize their applications and games created for Windows Phone devices. They also added features to help users more easily find this content and download it directly onto their Windows Phone 7.5 phones.

Microsoft introduced the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango version in April at the MIX11 conference and released two betas and a refresh release prior to final roll-out. They encouraged developers to download the beta versions, try developing applications and give them feedback. Let’s look at some of the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango features and opportunities for developers.

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Communication Made Easy—Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Features

New communications features make it easier for users to communicate and find information on their Windows Phone 7.5 device. When users turn on their Windows Phone 7.5 device for the first time, a tile displays on the screen called the People Hub. If the tile is activated, multiple tiles display showing images of contacts from various places such as Facebook, Outlook, Windows Live and now also including Twitter and LinkedIn. Users can now take Contact Groups and make them a tile on the Start screen as shown in Figure 1. Messaging has been expanded with speech-to-text and text-to-speech options. A threading feature lets users start with a text and finish in Facebook or Messenger chat and the whole conversation stays in one thread – all it takes to switch back and forth is a tap. Linked inboxes allow messages from multiple accounts to display in one place. In this release, customers can create custom ringtones using MP3 or WMA files. Voice mails display in a list, making them easy to access.

Working with applications is also easier on a Windows Phone 7.5 Mango device. In this version of the operating system, applications can run in the background; users hold down a dedicated BACK button to flip back and forth between windows. Dynamic Live Tiles can now retrieve information and update themselves without the user having to open the underlying application. An application called “My Windows Phone” is a free online service that lets users find, lock and erase a lost phone from the Web as well as giving them easy access to applications, photos and documents. Internet browsing uses the latest Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer 9, complete with hardware acceleration and HTML5. Also included are updated versions of all Microsoft Office tools.

A new application called Local Scout instantly gives highlights for businesses around the user’s GPS location, including suggestions on shops, activities and restaurants. The Search function has been expanded with the addition of Bing Vision (for scanning products, bar codes or QR codes) as well as music and voice search that lets users search the Internet using voice commands.

Using Sync with SkyDrive allows users to sync Microsoft Office docs between SkyDrive and their phone, so the documents can be edited on the phone and then edited more on a computer later. The new Internet connection sharing lets users turn their Windows Phone 7.5 device into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot by sharing the Internet-connection with a laptop and other devices.

Monetize your Applications and Games on the Windows Phone Marketplace

Microsoft encourages developers to create Windows Phone applications and games. An online web Windows Phone Marketplace, shown in Figure 2, is where developers can sell or give away their application or game creations to the global audience of Windows Phone owners. Customers can now purchase an application from the Marketplace and it can be downloaded directly to their Windows Phone 7.5 device. The Marketplace site contains a developer dashboard to let developers manage all aspects of how an application or game appears in the Marketplace, monitor downloads and track how much money they’ve earned. To make it easier for users to locate games or applications, Microsoft created App Connect so that games and applications show up in the search results when a user enters a Bing search.

 

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Developers can also make money from applications or games by including Microsoft ads on their content. The Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone is now fully integrated into the Windows Phone SDK 7.1. Microsoft indicated that international expansion for the Microsoft Advertising solution was a top developer request and eleven more countries have been added.

To submit apps or games to the Windows Phone Marketplace, developers need to register for an App Hub account first. In the past, developers were required to submit taxwithholding information to set up an App Hub account so that they could submit applications or games. A numberof developers complained about the complexity and hassle and Microsoft has removed the need to submit an ITIN or W-8 to get set up on the App Hub.

Download the Windows Phone 7.1 SDK

The latest toolkit used by developers to create Windows Phone 7.5 applications or games is the Windows Phone 7.1 SDK. This SDK can be downloaded from the Microsoft site and includes Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone Emulator, XNA Game Studio, Expression Blend for Windows Phone, samples and documentation. If Visual Studio 2010 Professional or higher is already installed on a development computer, an add-in for Visual Studio 2010 Professional is automatically installed as well. Windows Phone OS 7.1 now includes Silverlight 4. There are a number of new or updated features for developers in this SDK in the areas of multitasking, execution and fast application switching, alarms and reminders, background agents, media, sensors, background file transfers,background audio, socket support, network information, push notifications, live tiles, application performance analysis, Web Browser control, device status, camera and local database. With the new Silverlight and XNA integration, developers can now use both Silverlight and the XNA Framework in a single application or game. Windows Phone OS 7.1 provides the ability for developers to profile applications and games to measure the use of system resources such as CPU and memory over time, and navigate directly from the results to the code. In addition, there is also an active Windows Phone development forum where developers get their questions answered by the world-wide community of Windows Phone developers.

 


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Linda Barney has written articles for a variety of technology clients and has published articles in the Software Quality News, CircuiTree, inside HPC and HPCWire ezines. She owns Barney and Associates, a technical, marketing writing, training and web firm.

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