Some of the coolest features of Windows Phone 7’s Mango build are Bing’s new built in features. If you are classically trained as an Android user, you may be familiar with such applications as Yelp, Shazaam, Bardcode Scanner, QR Droid and Google Voice Search. These of course are applications that need to be downloaded from the market and can clutter your phone–the Samsung Focus S with WP7 Mango integrates the power of all of these apps into one app, Bing-powered search.
Now when you hit the capacitive search button on your Mango phone, Bing will pop up with a row of 4 icons in addition to the text box. These icons correspond to 4 new features designed to make your life easier:
Local Scout [Yelp]
Bing has oft been overlooked in lieu of its bigger, more popular brother, Google. However, even as an avid Android user I must say that having Local Scout integrated into search is extremely useful. When you hit the Local Scout icon, it loads up four location-based categories to help you disocover new places to go or things to do.
- Eat+Drink: As the name suggests, this category brings you a list of local food joints displaying its name, address, a price and quality rating (stars and $), and the distance from your location. Next to giving you a sample of their food, this is about as great of a culinary destination picker as it gets.
- See+Do: This category brings a list of tiles (with thumbnails) featuring different events and attractions. For my current it shows everything from the local doll museum and botanical garden, to the Nutcracker and movie theater.
- Shop: gives use a suggestion of local stores (based on proximity) that we might like to peruse. This gave me everything from a European Shoe Repair store to a State Liquor Store.
- Highlights: Although Local Scout seemed to have assigned me some strange Highlights, I’m assuming that this category would showcase popular attractions in your vicinity.
Multiple times I’ve found myself wondering what song I was listening to while holding a factory fresh Android device. Of course by the time I install Shazaam, the song has already ended and I will forever be curious as to what piece of music was gracing my ears.
If this has happened to you before–fear not–for this can never happen on your Focus S. Simply hit the search key and the music icon, and the built in music identification software will fire up!
Bing makes great use of your smartphone’s camera by allowing it to operate as a QR code reader, barcode scanner and a text scanner. The QR code reader and barcode scanner quickly bring up relevant information regarding the scanned item while the text scanner accurately converts pictures of text into copy/pasteable passages on your phone.
Microsoft Tellme [Google Voice Search]
Last but not least is the voice search functionality. If the previous methods haven’t helped find your results, maybe just try talking to your phone. If typing out your search query is not an option (sticky fingers, driving, etc.) simple say a word like “coffee” or “movies.”
In addition to using Microsoft Tellme as a search tool, it can be used to perform tasks (a la Siri) such as texting and calling your contacts.