Windows Phone Mango and Bing Vision hands-on

We're done listening, it's time to start doing. Microsoft had a number of Windows Phone Mango devices scattered about after this morning's intimate event concluded. So we grabbed one, went somewhere quiet, and got a little more intimate with the operating system itself, checking out the new hubs, groups, and Bing Vision search that should make cross-shopping a whole lot easier. Join us, won't you, to see what Mango is -- and what it isn't.

First of all, Mango is not necessarily Windows Phone 7.1. Microsoft simply had to get the SDK ready to go and, well, they "had to call it something." So, 7.1 is that something, a number applied to the SDK that we have a feeling will stick to the OS as well, but Microsoft is still far from carving that version into stone.

We also got a little more information about the Dell situation, that simply the company wasn't quite ready to commit to being on the Mango bandwagon. So, don't try to read too much into the company's omission from the slide deck here: there's no reason to think the company won't be there with bells on once the leaves start turning, joining the confirmed partners: Samsung, LG, HTC, Acer, Fujitsu, ZTE, and of course Nokia. Oh, and if you're hoping for tethering in this release? No such luck -- it'll have to wait for a future release.

But, onto more important things. As you can see in the videos here the revisions and augmentations in Mango are tightly integrated into the OS, such that if you don't know where to look you'll probably miss them. The new Groups feature in the People Hub gives you a quick view into what's happening with your friends, pulling in photos and updates and really augmenting the social aspects of the device.

In fact, you could say that Kin lives on, its social DNA now imbibed by Windows Phone and, honestly, looking pretty great in its new digs.

We also tried out the new Bing Vision feature, which allows you to search for things using the camera. Unlike Google Googles or the like you can't take a picture of any old thing -- only visual codes (bar, QR, etc.) will be recognized along with book, movie, and album covers -- but things are much more responsive because of it. You don't need to take a pic and wait: the results just pop up. The OS can even identify and translate text in real-time, something you can see toward the end of the video above. Naturally, though, all of this relies on an active data connection.

Ultimately Mango is not a groundbreaking update, but it is definitely shaping up to be a great addition to the world of Windows Phone, adding the seamless integration other smartphone platforms lack, tying loose ends together to create a nicely woven final package. The only problem? It won't be ripe until fall, and while there will surely be a suite of new devices that ship with this software it remains to be seen just how long it'll take this juice of this fruit to trickle out to all the existing WP7 devices. It also remains to be seen just how much further we can take these mango references, but rest assured we aren't finished yet.