Think of it as Google Voice Actions Lite. WP7 Mango places more of an emphasis on voice-to-text and text-to-voice technologies. With our device we said, “text Mike Spoonauer” and when prompted we rattled off our message. As you can see from the screenshot, the recognition works well. You just have to be very deliberate when initiating an action. Saying “text” and then someone’s name worked but “send text to” did not; we got a web search instead.
You can also use your voice in WP7 Mango to open apps and dial numbers. Unlike Android’s Voice Actions, you can’t navigate to an address via voice, go to a website, or play music (odd given Microsoft’s work with the Sync platform for vehicles).
The preview build of Windows Phone 7 Mango doesn’t yet integrate Twitter or LinkedIn, but these networks will join Facebook on this OS’s People Hub in time for launch. That means you’ll see your contacts’ updates from all three services in a single stream. For Twitter, Microsoft says users will be able to share web pages and photos via Twitter, as well as tweet, re-tweet and comment on posts. If you click on a @mention or #hashtag, you’ll be able to view related profiles and posts.
The social-networking goodies in WP7 Mango aren’t all coming soon. When you tap on the Me Live Tile, you can post a message to Facebook, as well as check into a location. For instance, we checked into the Lincoln Tunnel on our phone during a particularly long backup just to complain about the traffic. To perform tasks such as responding to requests dedicated Windows Phone Facebook app.
We’re glad that WP7 Mango now integrates Facebook events into your calendar. However, we think you should agree to attend something before it automatically shows up as an event you’re supposed to attend. It was a little jarring to find a concert in our calendar that we didn’t know anything about.
Facebook fans will also appreciate that the Pictures app now features automatic face detection. When attempting to tag a photo before uploading it, our friend’s name appeared as one of the choices.
Compared to iOS’ 500,000 apps and Android’s 200,000-plus apps, Windows Phone 7’s current stable of 18,000 looks pretty abysmal. Still, Microsoft’s platform has more than double the apps of webOS (about 7,000) and BlackBerry App World (about 8,500 if you subtract ebooks and visual themes). It’s clear though that Windows Phone 7 Mango isn’t focusing on the selection of apps as much as how you discover and use them.
A new feature of WP7 Mango called App Connect surfaces relevant apps when conducting searches in Bing. So, for example, when we searched for Hangover Part II we saw a link to the IMDb app before the first web search result. And when we searched for Gramercy Tavern in New York City, the Open Table app popped up as the first result. If you don’t have these apps already installed, you’ll be invited to do so.
Unfortunately, Bing doesn’t seem to communicate your search term with the above apps. When we launched IMDb from the results page of Hangover Part II, we landed on the homepage of the IMDb app, not on a page dedicated to our movie.