A second beta build of Windows Phone Mango was released to developers yesterday even though the final version has gone gold two days ago. This second beta is close enough to final for developers to start finalizing their new applications, but we’re also interesting in what kind of consumer features may have changed since the previous beta from June.
First off, the big ones are working Twitter and LinkedIn integration in the people hub. Well, mostly working. You can post status updates or tweets to both along with Facebook and Windows Live at the same time. You can reply to tweets as mentions and you’ll get notified of tweets that mention you through the “Me” live tile. You’ll also see full Twitter timeline updates in the People Hub’s “What’s New” feed which can be filtered of course. Unfortunately all of your Twitter and LinkedIn contacts do not currently load into the full contacts listing. There are options to filter your contacts based on those networks, but none of them load. This also poses a problem with groups since you cannot link your contacts to their Twitter or LinkedIn accounts manually. That means your Group or single contact “What’s New” feeds will not show twitter updates at this time. Hopefully that is something that can be fixed on the Windows Live server back-end since it seems like it should be possible. UPDATE: It seems some people are getting their Twitter followees to show up and create links. One suggested work-around is to delete your Twitter account from the phone and then re-add it.
You’ll also see a few small icon design changes, some subtle animation changes, and over all it feels a bit faster. “Find on Page” and “Forward” are still gone from IE9, you still have to tap the screen in Maps in order to hear directions, photo editing apps are no longer linked to photo viewers, and Office 2010 can’t edit Office 97-2003 documents anymore. On the plus side, the ability to play music off of cloud-based sources like SharePoint and SkyDrive now has the streaming capability. Beta 1 couldn’t play music from the cloud at all, and original Windows Phone 7 could only do it from SharePoint (after downloading the whole song). Videos that you upload to SkyDrive from Windows Live Messenger, Live Movie Maker, or Windows Phone will now stream and play beautifully as well. That’s quite a nice feature.