Microsoft and its manufacturing partners continue to gear up for the release of “Mango,” a wide-ranging update to Windows Phone.
As part of that, HTC plans on releasing a pair of Windows Phone devices in October. The first, the Titan, includes a 4.7-inch screen and a front-facing camera. The second, the HTC Radar, encloses its screen within an aluminum shell and also includes a front lens.
“A lot of you have asked us whether Mango will support front-facing cameras-and now that these HTC phones have been formally announced, I can confirm officially that Mango does support these,” Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone program management, wrote in a Sept. 1 posting on the Windows Phone Blog. “We’ve included support for -switching to FFC’ for photo/video shooting into the native camera experience, and we’ve added API support to the application platform.”
Even as Microsoft emphasizes this new camera functionality in the Mango release, it faces a lawsuit, filed in Seattle federal court by a Windows Phone user. The suit alleges the smartphone camera software transmits users’ location data even after they try to switch that function off.
Microsoft has insisted to Congress it only collects smartphone users’ geolocation data with consent, something the lawsuit alleges is “false.” According to Reuters, the case in U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington was filed by Rebecca Cousineau, individually on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situation v. Microsoft Corp., 11-cv-1438.
Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics and Nokia have all committed to building new Windows Phone devices preloaded with Mango, along with Acer and ZTE. Some 500 new elements to the update include expanded functionality for the Xbox Live and Office hubs, new multitasking abilities and Bing deeply baked into the user interface.
According to the latest rumors, Microsoft is also prepping a stripped-down version of Windows Phone, code-named “Tango,” for lower-end smartphones. This chatter stems in large part from an Aug. 23 posting on a Hong Kong-based Website titled “We Love Windows Phone,” which described Tango as a version of Windows Phone for low-cost hardware, targeted at developing markets (China, India, etc.). According to a Google Translation of the Website, Tango “is not a major update.” Supposedly, all this information was confirmed by speakers at a Microsoft seminar in Hong Kong, after which bloggers and journalists on this side of the Pacific quickly picked through the story.
Whatever its plans-and reactions to the lawsuit-Microsoft clearly needs Windows Phone to be a success, if only to reclaim the initiative in the smartphone space. According to fresh data from research firm Nielsen, Windows Phone owned 1 percent of the U.S. smartphone OS market in July, lagging Google Android, the Apple iPhone, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry and the increasingly antiquated Windows Mobile franchise.