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This is another out-of-sequence-because-it’s-topical Tip… normal service will resume soon…

I’m glad so many people enjoyed last week’s tip on getting Windows Phone “Mango” and making your own ringtones for it. Yes, ringtone creation is something of a palaver, but brings a sense of satisfaction that refreshes the parts other fruits cannot reach.

As you use Mango (or Windows Phone 7.5 to give it the full handle), you’ll see lots of incremental improvements in the way things work – the threading of emails, the deeper integration of Windows Live & Facebook in messaging, adding LinkedIn & Twitter etc.
There are a few major areas that are worth exploring though.

clip_image001Multi-tasking

One of the best under-the-covers features is the ability to jump between running (multi-tasking) applications. Want to copy a URL from Internet Explorer and paste it into an email…? Well, instead of going back to the Start Screen from one app to then start another, just press and hold the Back button on the bottom of your phone, and you’ll see the “App Switcher” – allowing you to swipe across and dive straight into another running application. ALT-TAB comes to your phone!

Apps that are written to take specific advantage of Mango’s multi-tasking can run in the background too… if you look in settings -> applications under background tasks, you’ll see a list of which apps are running in the background, and if you press advanced you’ll see which ones are able to.

The other buttons

It’s worth noting that the buttons on the bottom have changed their meaning somewhat – press and hold the Windows logo and you’ll get to give your phone spoken commands – not all new, but one nice addition is the ability to text someone by just talking to the phone… eg say “text <contact name>”, and then have hours of fun with freeform dictation, tarring with appropriate epithets in the hope that the phone will recognise what you say.

The magnifying glass/search button also changes its behaviour now, so it always takes you to the Bing app, rather than searching within an application. You’ll see a magnifier icon within apps, and tapping on that lets clip_image002you find content in that application.

An example, and another really nice tweak in Mango, is the way it handles the App List (when you swipe right->left on the Start Screen) – if you have lots of apps installed, you can now jump straight to a grouping of apps by letter tile (like you can in Contacts, for example) or can search all your installed Apps, even extending the search to the Marketplace.

The Bing application is very cool now, too – it includes “Local Scout” search functionality that will show you what’s nearby (if you have the GPS function switched on), and will take you straight to the further improved Maps application to show you not only where your search result is, but can show you how to get there. Really very nice.

Internet Explorer

Finally, for this week, there’s the much-improved, hardware-accelerated, HTML5-supporting, mobile Internet Explorer 9. [In some tests, it’s waaaay faster than the iPhone 4 and Android].

clip_image003As well as making it a lot faster, the development team redesigned the browser to make it even less intrusive to the web experience than before - see here for more information. One notable change is moving the address bar from the top to the bottom of the screen – simple usability feedback drove that change.

Incidentally, did you know that when you’re entering an address in the browser, if you press and hold the “.com” button, it will offer a few variants…?

Might just help you get your address there a little quicker…