Microsoft has updated the hubs and built-in apps in Windows Phone Mango, adding new features and improving others. Calendar, Pictures, Office, Games, IE9, and more will get much better this fall.
The Me section of the People hub now supports check-ins, IM status, and notifications. While Microsoft didn’t discuss these improvements at the Mango event, press shots clearly show a cleaner and more user-friendly profile.
In addition to making the process of sharing a message more obvious, users can check in, set their IM status, and check notifications. Hopefully, the latter includes Facebook notifications. Rumors of check-in support surfaced in April, exciting many Facebook Places and Foursquare users. Another feature in the People hub is Groups, which we covered earlier this morning.
The calendar on Windows Phone also integrates with Facebook. Windows Phone Mango now pulls down Facebook events and places them on a special calendar. Those that don’t want to see Facebook events can disable them in the calendar settings. Also, when accepting a new appointment invite, Windows Phone automatically checks for conflicts.
The Picture hub now supports facial recognition, similar to Windows Live Photo Gallery. When the user uploads a photo to a social network, like Facebook, Windows Phone will automatically recognize contacts in the photo and suggest people tags.
As previously announced, the Office hub now supports synchronization with SkyDrive, SharePoint, and Office 365. The web version of SkyDrive, for those interested, will be receiving an overhaul sometime in the future. The Metro-themed update will include support for HTML5. The Office hub, as always, allows users to view and edit documents in full fidelity. Excel Mobile will also receive new features like autosum.
The Games hub has been completely redesigned. Xbox LIVE is built right into the hub, rather than a special app. The game collection now looks like the application list, instead of a smaller version of the home screen tiles. Overall, the changes to the Games hub are a nice improvement, and should speed up simple tasks like checking achievements or the friends list.
Once again, Microsoft showed off the power of Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Phone Mango. IE9 brings the full power of the desktop browser to the phone, supporting HTML5, hardware acceleration, and much more. In a browser speed test, IE9 on Windows Phone beat the browsers on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry hands down.
As we reported earlier, Windows Phone Mango will integrate with Windows Live Messenger and Facebook Chat. It also supports a new feature called Threads, which combines text messages, IMs, and other forms of communication.
Windows Phone Mango will be released this fall. For more news on Mango, check out the rest of our coverage.