Windows Phone Mango ‘Music + Videos’ Hub Fully Explored

Microsoft said at the Windows Phone Mango VIP event that they would slowly fill us in on the specific Mango features to come over the next few months and today we received an update on the specific features and changes coming to the Music + Videos hub in Windows Phone Mango.

First things first, Windows Phone’s music experience is rivaled by none. Whether you are talking iOS or Android or Blackberry or WebOS, nobody does music playback and discovery as well as the Zune offerings in Windows Phone. That being said, here is the information posted today on the Windows Phone Blog:

Podcasts now included:You can already listen to podcasts on your Windows Phone. The catch is you need your computer and the Zune software to actually browse and download them. In Mango, you can now do all this right on your phone (U.S. customers only).

Find stuff in Marketplace easier: Now when you start typing in the Marketplace search box, you’ll see search terms appear. Search results are also now organized by content type (apps or games, music, or podcasts). We make it even simpler to find what you want by indicating exactly what each search result is—artist, album, song, or playlist, for example. Marketplace search is also context sensitive. Start a search from the podcast Marketplace and you’ll land right into the podcast results pivot. Same goes for music.

A DJ in your pocket: Smart DJ takes “seeds”—an artist, album, or song— and creates a music mix that’s similar using whatever songs it finds on your phone. If you have a monthly Zune Pass music subscription, Smart DJ selects from the millions of tracks available in the Zune catalog.

 

 

Improvements and changes to the hub itself:

Improved History and New: These areas are designed to make it easier to find and play content. But usability studies taught us the horizontal layout and 8-item limit slowed people down. So in Mango, we’ve gone vertical— and added room for 25 items.

Better mini-playback control: We noticed people were having trouble tapping the small buttons of our handy mini-playback control. Now when you tap the volume button on your phone you’ll see bigger, easier-to-tap music controls as well as the artist name and what’s playing. Tap on that info to launch the full music player and turn on options like shuffle or repeat.

New lock-screen options: We thought it would be handy if you could easily control your music player while your phone is locked, so in Mango you’ll find playback controls there.

New artist wallpapers: We also figured music lovers would like to see those great artist images in the Music + Videos Hub show up as wallpaper on the lock screen. In Mango, that’s now a settings option. (We keep this one off by default, since it does have a small impact on your battery life).

Better playback controls: The playback controls are bigger and are now aligned with the mini-playback control—so your thumbs always know where to go.

Better artist images: We found that the background artist images were sometimes too bright, which made some controls hard to see. Our design team worked hard to find the right opacity for the images. The end result you’ll see in Mango has a great layered look and never interferes with the controls.

More playback info: We’ve added the artist name to the music player queue so that when you’re jamming to your new Smart DJ mix, you know exactly what’s up next.

More playback options: Tap the Repeat button a couple of times and you’ll see the addition of a Repeat Once mode for those songs you just can’t get enough of.

New playlist option: Yep, that’s right—you can finally create playlists on your device. Add a mix of whatever you want to your queue or start a Smart DJ mix and save it as a playlist.

Better data management: In Mango, Zune Pass subscribers now see an icon on the phone when they’re listening to streamed music—so you always know when you’re consuming data.

More video options: Last but not least, for videos, we’ve added a full-screen toggle and video scrubbing (where supported) so you have quick access to the parts of your videos you love most—features we heard you ask for!

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