Sunday, October 2, 2011

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review: Email & Calendar

This is the 3rd part of my Windows Phone 7.5 Mango reviews - which talks about Email. See previous reviews here and here. In the initial release of Windows Phone, email was already quite good. It syncs seamlessly with my Exchange account, Hotmail, GMail, etc. Each inbox will create a different "email app" and I can pin each one of those to the Home screen.

I can also be selective about how to sync the folders, how long should it went back to sync, etc. The interface was a delight to use - the typography was good, text and formatting are pleasing, attachment are supported, and the notifications of new emails on the Live Tiles are purely awesome.

Overall, it was a good and nice experience. So what did Mango bring to the table?

Mango brought quite robust improvements for Email. First of all, email conversation is now threaded. This is a must have feature nowadays. The top email shows a bit summary of how many emails are in the thread and how many are unread. You can open/close the thread by tapping on the top email. For selecting the whole thread, you can select the top email (just like before) by tapping on the left of the email - or you can select individual emails within the thread.

Another new feature is now there is an option for combined/linked inbox. So instead of having separate "email app" for Outlook/Exchange, Hotmail and YahooMail and GMail etc, now you can linked them anyway you want. For me, I separate my work email (Exchange) and my personal emails (Hotmail & GMail - into a linked inbox). So now, instead of having 3 Live Tiles on my Start/Home screen, I have 2 tiles. The linked inbox has a separate icon and you can name it what ever you want.

When composing a new email from a linked inbox, it will ask you which email account to use for sending the email. Another cool feature here is that now you can email to "Group". So instead of typing the recipients one by one, you can just email to "Family" group and Mango understands that and will insert the email for the people in the group. Very neat and certainly something that I will use a lot - since I do a lot of group emails (such as to family/church groups/work etc).

The Calendar has a subtle but awesome feature upgrades and additions, mainly multi-calendar support, Facebook calendar integration, and sync with Tasks/To-Do in Exchange. Multi- calendar support means you can view events from other calendars within the same calendar, filter them, color coded, etc. It also auto-sync with your Windows Live calendars, which include US Holiday calendar. When creating an event, you can specify which calendar the new event belongs and syncs to. If you are integrating your Facebook account, this will then include your Facebook events.

Mango also natively allows To-Do list or Task list, and if you put a due date, it will automatically put it in the calendar. If you are using Exchange, then there is an option to sync it with your Exchange Tasks.

There is also a new set of APIs that allows apps that take advantage of the built-in gyro, accelerometer, etc. to be able to communicate with the calendar.

Overall for Emails and Calendar, I was happy before - but now I am happier. There are several things that I found that I hope Microsoft will address or add in the future for Emails and Calendar, but the current Mango features really do provide the essence of what I need.

My other WP Mango Reviews:
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review: Update Process
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review: People & Me
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review: Search

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