I learned that I'm no VIP in Microsoft's eyes. I didn't receive one of the invites for the May 24 Windows Phone "Mango" event in New York City. Or perhaps PR people were being pragmatic, acknowledging that I'm on the wrong coast for the event. That triviality aside, yeah, the big Windows Phone next-version -- codename "Mango" -- sneak peak comes in 15 days. I guess the MIX 11 demo wasn't enough.
Invites to the event follow buzz stemming from the Windows Phone Dev Podcast Episode 15, featuring Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of Developer Experience. Posted yesterday, hosts Ryan and Travis Lowdermilk discuss the new features, which include:
Bing Audio. It's essentially a Shazam ripoff on steroids. The user holds up the phone to a music source for identification of artist, song title, album and related info. Shazam is among the top 3 apps used most often on my smartphone. Microsoft is smart to tie such capability to a search engine. I don't recall ever seeing such functionality from Google and suddenly wonder why. Learning about Bing Audio is one of those duh moments, it's so obvious. Tied to search and to Zune Pass (presumably), Bing Audio would be a helluva useful music discovery tool.
Bing Vision. Adding to some capabilities already available on Windows Phone 7 -- in the Bing app anyway -- Mango will extend camera reading capabilities. Expect everything from barcodes to OCR functions. Think of it as scan and search.
Turn-by-Turn Navigation. "Why isn't it part of Windows Phone now?" I ask.
SMS Dictation. Why text and drive when you can text and drive? It's voice before fingers in a capability way behind Android. Google's OS natively supports dictation for just about any text box today -- and it's shockingly accurate, too.
While there is some fervor in the Windows Phone fan community about the new features, they're mostly catchups -- Microsoft adding capabilities already available on Android and iOS smartphones. Additionally, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's director of Windows Phone management, demoed some of these capabilities during MIX11 last month.
That said, the leaked features fit nicely with Microsoft's "glance-and-go" approach, which isn't just marketing jargon. Microsoft is taking a measured approach to improving its mobile platform around a clear and defined philosophy. The phone is a utility to getting things done rather than an all-consuming attention taker. People get on the device and get on with living.
So, Betanews readers who are Windows Phone fans, here's your chance to stick it to the Android Army and iPhone idolators. Please share in comments what you like about your Windows Phone handset and why your life is better because of it. The Androids and idolators are sure to make fun of you and Microsoft, laughingly accusing that Windows Phone is still playing catchup. Put them in their place. But, please, everyone, let's have a civil discussion.
By the way, I lifted the above image from MobileCrunch, which received the VIP invite. It all starts 10 a.m. ET on May 24.