Windows Phone Mango: Internet Sharing, Visual Voicemail and improved services availability

It’s officially Mango season. Windows Phone 7.5 has just been officially announced (even though it’s been already spoiled by the new website launched several hours early) and there are plenty of new features and functionality to appreciate. While most of these are available to everyone everywhere, a few in particular are limited by region, carrier and even manufacturer.

One of the most anticipated features, and one that I’m looking forward to the most, is the ability to share a cellular internet connection via WiFi to laptops and other devices. As it turns out, “Internet sharing” may not be available to every carrier or even every device. A Microsoft spokesperson said,

Internet Sharing is available to Windows Phone 7.5 users where supported by their mobile operator and handset hardware. A Broadcom chip, associated drivers, Mango software and carrier support will all be required to support this feature.

With limited knowledge of the internal chips used in Windows Phone devices, I haven’t been able to narrow down which phones do not feature a Broadcom WiFi chip, however the wording suggests such devices do exist. The official documentation on the feature also confirms this feature must be selectively enabled by the carrier for your mobile plan and is likely to cost.

On a more positive note, Visual Voicemail, another highly anticipated feature is going to be much more commonly available.

Visual Voicemail is available to Windows Phone 7.5 users where supported by their mobile operator. There are no new hardware requirements for this feature, so all existing devices in market along with new hardware will be capable of supporting visual voicemail when enabled by the carrier.

I anticipate if the carrier already supports the visual voicemail standard for iPhones, it’ll be immediately if not quickly available for Windows Phone 7 users too.

Last but certainly not least, the Mango update is also making Windows Phone much better global citizen. Alongside the 22 languages and 20 new keyboard inputs it now supports, it’s also bringing a range of Bing-powered services to new and previously unsupported regions around the world.

  • Bing search (accessed from the phone’s hardware Search button) is available in 33 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States. (Elsewhere, handset and mobile operators can configure the hardware search button to a locally-relevant search site).
  • Local search results show up in 6 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Image search results (which appear as a pivot in Bing search results) are available in the following countries/regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States.
  • Music search results are available in the following countries/regions: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.
  • Vision search results are available in the following countries/regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States.
  • Maps is supported in 19 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Voice-to-text and Voice-to-dial is available in 6 countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and the Unites States.
  • Voice search is supported in 4 countries: France, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Even though the feature-set in some regions still leaves a lot of room for improvement, credit where credit is due – Mango brings a drastic improvement over the original launch and proves progress is being made across the board. Hopefully Mango sets the pace for Windows Phone improvements to come.

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About Prashant Tiwari

Microsoft Student Partner India

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