Windows Phone's latest iteration (codename Mango) is all about keeping it in the hood. We had a chance to sit down with a Windows Phone rep before today's big reveal, and they let us in on a couple of new features that will most definitely set the OS apart -- at least when it comes to navigating the tangled web that is the internet. We did get a quick glimpse at IE9, but the new browser isn't much of a game changer -- it supports HTML5, but still won't deliver Flash or Silverlight compatibility. The real news here is in the Bing-powered search function, which lets users surf the vast expanses of the web four different ways, with a focus on the local.
Clicking the dedicated search button from the Windows Phone home screen takes you to a familiar Bing page, offering the visual, audio, and voice options we heard rumored earlier this month, along with a city scape icon. That skyline represents Local Scout, a function that focuses your queries on the neighborhood you're in, providing location-specific results that highlight important information about establishments and events in your immediate area. Clicking through on any link brings up general information as well as reviews gleaned from popular user-generated sites. That's not all that's new, however, as Mango also offers some nifty tricks in its visual search. Instead of just snapping a barcode, you can actually use a shot of the product itself to bring up information about pricing, availability, and relevant apps.
The demo we saw used the cover of The Girl Who Played With Fire, and supplied among the search results a link to the title in the Kindle app. This isn't exactly groundbreaking technology -- Google Goggles does much the same thing -- but what's truly different here is the tight integration of such functions in the operating system, as well as links to outside applications. Thus, the experience is a bit unlike any other in the OS atmosphere, upending our idea of what it means to search the internets without resorting to standalone programs. Whether it's something users will take to is anybody's guess, but we're certain it's enough to get folks talking. For a deeper (and very vertical) look at Local Scout, hop on past the break.