Microsoft unveiled all the goodies of Windows Phone 7.1 Mango this morning and the company has made the new developer tools available. That should mean we should get some cool apps soon which are on par with what is on the iPhone and Android.
Something like Instagram or a barcode reader haven’t been possible on Microsoft’s mobile platform because app makers haven’t had access to the camera yet but the Windows Phone 7.1 Mango dev tools change that. App makers will now get direct access to the camera, video recorder, compass and the gyroscope.
Additionally, developers will be able to do full multitasking with Windows Phone 7.1 Mango. Microsoft’s first-party programs can currently do this but third-party programs have to resort to a hibernate mode. That will be changing soon.
You can also look for your home screen to be more useful, as app makers will get access to Live Tiles. It will be interesting to see how this is utilized. Other improvements with the Windows Phone 7.1 Mango dev tools include new emulators, background processing, fast app switching, access to calendar and contacts for apps, IE9 web browser control and the ability to use Silverlight and XNA together.
From the Windows Phone developer blog:
With Mango we are not only improving the way we merchandise your apps within our Marketplace, we are also exposing your apps as a part of our customers’ everyday experiences. You want more ways for consumers to find your apps; and consumers have been raving about the Windows Phone design. In short, we are listening and investing accordingly. You should expect us to continue to deliver technology and services unlike anyone else.
The company also revealed that there are now more than 18,000 apps in the store, which will now have a web version. This pales in comparison to the App Store and Android Market but it does show there is some developer interest.