You can pin each group (and contact) to your Start menu.
We gave this one away in the previous sentence, but it's important enough to give it more attention. Each group hub can have a live tile on the Start menu. The tile shows each person's profile pictures, though we're unsure if there will be any dynamic updates here.
Also, each one of those live tiles from the group hub (or any individual contact off the People hub, for that matter) can be pinned to Start, but a new pivot screen has been added to each person's information hub that highlights that person's photo albums.
Mango allows you to add tags when viewing Facebook photos or albums.
Sure, you can view photo albums and even upload pictures to Facebook direct from NoDo, but can you add tags to them? We submit that you cannot. Mango brings that functionality -- along with automatic face detection -- straight to your device, with the ability to add tags to your images as well as your friends'. Tap the face of the person you want to tag, and you'll be given the option to tag yourself, a Facebook contact, or just some random guy or gal that happened to wander into your precious memories.
You can link your multiple email accounts together into one combined inbox.
Direct access to People settings within the hub: this is much faster than accessing the settings app.
Filter my contact list: don't want all of your Facebook friends or Windows Live contacts showing up in your list? This new option in the People settings will let you choose which services to aggregate your contacts from.
Added tasks to account sync in People settings.
One of our biggest complaints about the email system on WP7 has been dealing with one email account per tile. If you have several accounts to deal with, this takes up an massive amount of space on your Start screen. Mango settles that concern in stellar fashion, by giving us the choice of which accounts to bind together and which ones to leave as standalone tiles. Universal inboxes are great, but there's one problem with them: they're universal. In other words, we don't have a choice -- all of the accounts are included. We much preferred linking the three accounts we always use, and leaving out the others that aren't as important. Microsoft scores some major points against the competition by giving users the control here.
Email conversations are now grouped together into one continuous thread.
Mango has definitely been focusing on making its user interface seamless and more convenient. One huge piece of evidence supporting this is the threaded email conversations. Good luck trying to find every part of an email thread that's spanned over the course of a few days in NoDo; every email is treated individually and buried among the rest of your inbox. Windows Phone will now hunt down the full email chat you've been having with your boss and pull them all together in an easy-to-find thread. These conversations can also be minimalized, making it much easier to scroll over the whole thing and move on to other emails in your inbox if you don't want to read it. If there's anyone sad to see this new functionality, stop moping; all you have to do is go into the settings menu and choose to turn it off.
Messaging threads have integrated SMS, Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, and Twitter together into one seamless thread, while making it easy to switch back and forth.
Speaking of threads, the messaging app will have support for them too. In this case, you're given the chance to switch between text, Facebook chat, and IM (Windows Live, to be specific) all within the same chat thread. If you've been talking it up to your friend on Facebook but he has to get off, the both of you can pick up the conversation where you left off. We also enjoyed the fact that each Facebook chat thread will specify if your friend is online or off.
This has some serious potential in saving money on texts, but we'd really love to see this take off into the world of third parties. It would be wonderful to see developers given access to integrate their services into this thread. We use Google Talk and Skype IM on a regular basis, and nothing would satisfy us more than to see these types of clients invited into this "exclusive club" for messaging.
You're now able to see a comprehensive email history for individuals.
As you're looking through an email you received from Bob Johnson, clicking on his name at the top of the screen will take you into his individual profile and recent email history. Between this new option and the ability to search your inbox, it may take less time to find that hidden email from a couple weeks ago.
Mango blesses the Enterprise user with additional Exchange support.
You'll be able to set Out of Office autoresponder messages, alpha-numeric PIN codes, search your Exchange server for a specific email, and read IRM messages.
Voice dictation has been added, so you may speak your message and have incoming ones spoken to you.
All sorts of speech-to-text (and vice versa) capabilities have been tossed into Mango. When new messages came in, we were asked by a female robot voice if we'd like to have it read out loud to us. After reading it, we were given the opportunity to speak our response. These new voice recognition and dictation features can be used over the loudspeaker, Bluetooth, or other headphone set; as a kicker, you can filter which audio devices can use this functionality in the settings -- in other words, you could make it work only when you're paired up with a Bluetooth device, if you so desire. Don't worry, though, the good ol' fashioned voice search we see in Windows Phone now isn't going anywhere; long-pressing the Start key will still prompt you to say what you want. The only real enhancement here is that the phone will recognize the "text" command.
Performing a long-press of the back button will pull up the card-view task switcher.
New search button on the toolbar to find specific emails. Pressing the requisite search key underneath the display will just take you straight into Bing Search instead.
Individual email folders are now pinnable to Start.
In the inbox, folders have been moved from toolbar to soft key menu.
New email settings: added conversations on / off toggle and changed signature from check box to toggle switch.
Added option in settings to show replies and email from all synced folders while in conversation mode.
New messaging settings: added facebook chat on / off, group text on / off, option to turn on delivery confirmation, and SMS center number.
Fans of WebOS will find this feature oddly familiar, as Microsoft's solution to multitasking is showing each open app as its own card. Just like in webOS, swipe left or right to the card of your choice -- laid out like a trail of bread crumbs -- and you're taken right back to the same spot you were before. While we could test out the card view, there were no third party apps to take advantage of this feature yet, though we're very happy to see developers get access to this functionality so early; this will give them ample time to ensure their programs can run in the background before the update even launches. We anticipate seeing a healthy selection of multitasking apps in the Marketplace when all is said and done.
Third-party background audio will be enabled.
Fans of streaming music apps will appreciate this addition to Windows Phone, as pre-Mango phones don't allow background audio for any third-party programs. However, we were unable to take advantage of the feature this time for the same reasons as mentioned earlier. Expect this to be fully enabled by the time Mango's ready to go.
Live tiles finally give you a greater sense of "glance and go."
Currently restricted to use by native WP7 apps only, Mango is opening the door for third-party apps to put dynamic updates directly on their Start menu tiles. We checked out The Weather Channel app and were able to see the temperature and weather condition; push notifications also worked on other apps we tried out such as Beezz (a Twitter client) and Send to WP7. Much like multitasking, this isn't running at full speed yet, but we hope that most apps in the Marketplace will use this new functionality.