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Microsoft leaks Windows Phone 'Mango' features

Microsoft appears to have leaked details of some of the features that will be coming to Windows Phone 7 handsets courtesy of the 'Mango' update - and they're heavily centred around the company's Bing search engine service.

Supplied by sources unknown to the hosts of the Windows Phone Dev Podcast, the features listed reveal a very Bing-heavy update for the Windows Phone platform - offering new features related to audio and visual search on compatible devices.

Perhaps the most surprising new feature is Bing Audio, a music-tagging service that borrows heavily from Shazam. Like its spiritual predecessor, the Bing Audio tool allows a smartphone user to record a snippet of a song to be analysed, with the search engine returning the artist and album names. In the case of Bing Audio, those results will also link to the company's Marketplace, giving users an easy way to buy music that they've overheard.

Bing Vision, the next search-related feature for Mango, is equally derivative - this time of Google's Shopper app for Android. Using the on-board camera, Bing Vision allows Windows Phone 7 users to scan barcodes, QR codes, Microsoft's own Tags, and covers from DVDs, CDs, and books. Basic OCR functionality is also included, and the software will apparently be upgraded to recognise additional real-world objects over time.

The Windows Phone platform is also due to get native support for podcasts, featuring an integrated search engine, on-device subscriptions, and live streaming or downloading for both audio and video podcasts.

Some additional features rumoured to also be coming in the update, although as yet unconfirmed by Microsoft, include native turn-by-turn directions in the Bing Maps application, and voice recognition support for hands-free text message sending.

Sadly, Microsoft has yet to announce a launch date for the Mango update, which some believe will take the Windows Phone platform to version 7.5.