Microsoft launches Silverlight toolkit add-on for Windows Phone Mango apps

With Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) gearing up to begin accepting Windows Phone 7.1 (a.k.a. "Mango") applications later this month, the company issued its new Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit add-on, promising new user interface controls as well as components like toggle switches, page transitions and picker controls. Highlights of the release include a rebuilt LongList Selector created to leverage new smooth scrolling and off-thread touch input support, MultiselectList control enabling multiple selection for working with lists of data (similar to the Mail app's capability), and ExpanderView control used to expand and collapse items (e.g., threaded views in the Mail app) and a HubTile for adding animated tiles to apps.

The Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit add-on also touts a revamped ContextMenu control alongside performance improvements and visual consistency fixes. In addition, Date and Time Converters are now localized to 22 languages, and all error messages and interface elements have been localized to all supported languages. Microsoft adds that the toolkit is open-source, enabling developers to extend all components.

Windows Phone 7.1, expected to reach consumers this fall, emphasizes tighter platform integration and promises a smarter approach to mobile applications. The upgrade introduces App Connect, which ties applications to Bing search tools to foster a more relevant and efficient user experience. For example, if a consumer searches Bing for movie information, their Windows Phone device will generate showtimes and theater locations but also anticipate subsequent ticket purchase requirements by presenting digital movie services provider Fandango's ticketing application.

Also new in Mango: Improved Live Tiles to deliver more real-time information to the device's homescreen, app multitasking and Live Agents tools giving developers the flexibility to build app multitasking scenarios without compromising battery life and performance. Windows Phone 7.1 additionally touts the new People Hub, which integrates multiple communications tools and social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Outlook and LinkedIn in one location.

Another upgrade: Internet Explorer with HTML5, which Microsoft says translates to a faster mobile web experience. New browser tools include Local Scout, which prioritizes local search results according to user preferences and recommends nearby points of interest; Visual Search, which initiates Bing searches via barcodes, QR codes and Microsoft Tags, and Music Search for accessing song and artist info. Mango additionally boasts support for Augmented Reality solutions.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Developer Blog entry

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