Microsoft details music & video hub changes in Mango

The Windows Phone Blog has a nice writeup on the new features we will see in the Mango Music + Video Hub. We've known about some of the features for awhile now (see our "Big Mango consumer list" for what we know so far), but it's great to have official confirmation and more details. There are also quite a few smaller updates that don't merit their own bullet point, but will help smooth out the experience.

The on-device podcast support is a welcome feature, and many users have been asking for it since day one. The iPhone supports it out of the box, and there are a few apps in the Marketplace (e.g. Bring Cast and Podcasts!) that offer some podcast functionality, but so far, only Windows Phone has announced on-device podcast subscriptions, baked into the OS. The standard download-for-later, and stream-it-now options are supported, and users will be able to download or stream over WiFi or GSM/CDMA. New podcasts will only download automatically while your phone is charging, though, and for now, it looks like this is a US only feature. 

One of the Zune's greatest features is the Smart DJ (see earlier leak). Smart DJ mixes have always been playable on your Windows Phone, but you've had to create them on your computer, and transfer them over. Mango will give us the ability to generate them on the device, by just long-tapping the "seed" artist, song, or album, and selecting "smart dj." The Music +Video hub will then store your mixes in the History pivot.

To round out the experience, the team has modified the UI/UX a bit. They have moved around a few items, like the repeat and shuffle buttons, to make them easier to find, added bigger playback control buttons, added lock-screen music controls, better images, lockscreen album art, a streaming icon, and on-device playlist creation.

Jump on past the break for the full changelog from Microsoft's quite the read.

  • More discoverable playback options: Research showed we provided a great option—“shuffle all music”— that almost nobody knew we had! So we’ve moved the button and updated the icon to make it stand out. Ditto for the old Rate, Shuffle, and Repeat playback options, which were hidden behind album art. In Mango, they’re front and center.
  • 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!

Source: Windows Phone Blog

Iam Nabil