Windows Phone “Mango” Pushes Apps Off the Pedestal

By  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

As I read This is My Next’s liveblog of the Microsoft Windows Phone event today, one quote from Microsoft’s mobile president Andy Lees resonated: “The problem is that today smartphones only include basic communications — everything else is an app,” he said.

That remark sets the tone for nearly every feature that Microsoft will bring to the next Windows Phone upgrade, codenamed “Mango.” The gist? Apps aren’t everything.

Consider, for instance, how Microsoft is fleshing out the search button on Windows Phones. After the “Mango” upgrade, which arrives this fall, users will be able to tap a button to get recommendations on nearby restaurants, attractions and shopping. It’s a Yelp-like function that’s built straight into the phone. Same goes for “Bing Vision,” which uses the phone’s camera to call up information on real-world objects. It’s as if Google Goggles was fused into the operating system.

On the communications front, Microsoft is also trying to pull people away from app dependency. A new “groups” feature will let users keep tabs on customized groups of people, pulling in e-mail, text messages and Facebook photos into a single view. Another feature called “threads” lets the user switch between messaging services, such as Facebook or MSN Messenger, without ever jumping into an app.

Even within apps, Microsoft is trying to impose its operating system. Users will be able to pin specific elements of an app, such as a product page or flight information, as live tiles on the home screen. The phone’s search function will pull in relevant information from third-party apps, such as IMDB listings when searching for movies.

It’s a fascinating and risky move by Microsoft. On the iPhone and Android, the apps you use define your experience. On Windows Phones, it’s the other way around — the apps get pulled into the experience you’re already having. I don’t know whether consumers want a platform where apps don’t dominate, but I’m glad someone’s willing to create it.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. dan Says:

    they just provide additional workflows, some will use apps for everything. I think this provides both worlds

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  3. Rahul Aggarwal Says:

    Microsoft is trying hard with the window7.5 phone to stand apart for good from the mobile space kings (ANDROID and Apple) but, may be Microsoft will still have to wait for the features of much awaited iOS 5 and Ice Cream sandwich to be disclosed. Apart from the IE9 browser, there are 2 features among the reported 500 features of Mango, those are Quick Cards and Local Scout. Though both the features are identical, the Local Scout will give the info about the events happening in the neighborhood whereas, the Quick Cards displays all the info about a searched item in Bing.

  4. LSDME Says:

    Mango may no longer be a secret in and of itself, but we doubt Microsoft would've set up an entire event to preview its big Windows Phone update if there was nothing hidden up that Redmond sleeve.

  5. @ymala1 Says:

    Why do I get this negative vibe from this post? It sounds as if you feel bad for the apps and they need standing up for or something? Some relevant features that were previously found in apps are getting baked in, but you'd still need the app for the full experience. You can facebook chat in messaging, you can view your friends status updates and pictures in people, but I doubt it's going to negatively affect facebook, nor downloads of their app much.

    Also, you describe live tiles that deep link into apps as "Microsoft is trying to impose its operating system" and either ignore, or misunderstand how bing will now point you towards relevant apps when you search for certain terms, like when you search the name of a movie, bing will show related apps like imdb and fandango, allowing you to go directly to that app, with information like the name of the moving being sent over to the app.

    I get that you're trying to make a point, but I feel that you're reaching, and in your attempts not really providing an objective view of what Microsoft is trying to do (neither are you required are to). I feel this observation of yours is akin to posting about how apps for facebook and such are taking away from browsers that would previously be used to access these services.

    I may be seeing into this too much, you do end with admitting that you're glad Microsoft is trying this out, and as you can tell I'm pretty stoked about this too. 🙂

  6. Jared Newman Says:

    Over-reaching is kinda my thing, but a negative vibe was not my intent. I, for one, am glad to see apps knocked off their high horse. MS is onto something when it says too many smartphones treat apps like "silos." They ought to weave into the OS. Maybe "impose" wasn't the right word, but I do see Microsoft trying to hook its OS into the apps — of course it's entirely up to developers to play along.

  7. @ymala1 Says:

    Thank you for your response, and for not taking offense at my comment. Yeah, I suppose the negativity I read may have been in my head.

    Here's to thinking different whether it be smartphone OS's or articles on the net.

  8. Albert Says:

    It seems to me like the app is still around. Can you get that info without the app associated with it?

    If so, then the app is grass. If not, then it's basically adding another layer to interaction.

  9. arcanys Says:

    Ain't this going to be one fruity war isn't apple heads? 🙂 Well be looking forward for this. Specially when skype is in windows hands. outsourcing company