Microsoft rolls out Windows Phone Mango developer tools

Hours after taking the wraps off Windows Phone 7.1 (a.k.a. Mango) during a New York City press event last week, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) introduced new developer tools optimized for the operating system update. Available for download via Microsoft's App Hub portal, the Windows Phone Developer Tools beta release enables programmers to leverage a host of new platform capabilities including background processing, deep linking into apps from notifications and Live Tiles, fast application switching and access to calendar and contacts information. Also featured: A new profile and emulator for testing as well as a local SQL database for structured storage. Microsoft said it will announce a timetable for accepting Windows Phone 7.1-based apps sometime in the coming weeks.

Expected to reach consumers this fall, Windows Phone 7.1 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. Mango additionally detects the best method of communication for interacting with contacts and introduces group text and IM options. Personalized Live Tiles offer real-time social media updates, and built-in text-to-voice and voice-to-text functionality supports hands-free communication.

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.

Windows Phone 7.1 brings with it new languages as well as new hardware partnerships with Acer, Fujitsu Limited and ZTE Corp. In addition, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) confirmed Mango will power its first Windows Phone-based smartphones. Earlier this year, Nokia announced a strategic agreement with Microsoft that makes Windows Phone its primary smartphone platform moving forward.

For more:
- read this Windows Phone Developer Blog entry

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