Like the Bing website, there are new photos every day to serve as a background, but WP7 has one extra – three squares on the photo, which give you three interesting facts about what’s in the picture. The copyright sign in the bottom right also reveals the location of the photo (e.g. “Waterfall on the Arroyo del Salto River”).
It’s not useful per se, but it’s a nice “Did you know...?” type of feature for the curious-minded.
Much like any other Windows Phone 7, LG Optimus 7 has extensive voice recognition capabilities – you just press and hold the Windows key and say your command. You can do things like “Call Sarah at work”, “Open calendar” and even “What can I say?” if you’re not sure what commands you can give. It wasn’t very good at recognizing our commands though, hopefully it will improve with time.
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service and they offer 25GB of free storage (individual files must be 50MB max). You can integrate it with desktop Windows Explorer and it has some integration with Windows Phone 7.
Right now, you can upload photos including auto uploading of all pictures you snap with the camera.
The LG E900 Optimus 7 comes with three special apps preinstalled by LG – PlayTo, ScanSearch and Panorama shot (which we already covered).
PlayTo turns the Optimus 7 into a DLNA server – it can play pictures, videos and music on compatible TVs and computers. It’s subject to some limitations – it’s a server only, that is, you can’t play content from your home server on the phone, and DRM-protected files won’t work. Still, this is a unique feature in the land of WP7.
ScanSearch is an augmented reality app similar to Layar. It uses the camera and your location to overlay information about various points of interest. It uses the compass, so when you turn the phone in the direction of a POI it appears on the screen – you can set the radius for the search and what to look for (cafes, banks, etc.).
It can pull data from either Google or Bing (Google seems to have more info) Tapping on a POI shows its About page and also info on what else is nearby. You can also search for a place by name and set the center for the search somewhere other than your current location (though the UI for that isn’t very good).
Another feature of ScanSearch is a sort of radar view – tilt the phone so it’s parallel to the ground, and instead of using the compass to look around, you get a top-down view of the points of interest around you. You can pan around to view items further away. Tilting it to the sky brings up a weather forecast instead.
While it didn’t come preinstalled on the LG E900 Optimus 7, the official Twitter app should be one of your first downloads from the Marketplace. Windows Phone 7 is heavily geared towards social networking and Twitter is one of the biggest networks right now, so you can count it among the essential apps.
The app was released only recently and not all kinks have been worked out, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s great. You can add several accounts, but only one can be signed in at a time and their timelines are kept separate.
From the Twitter app, you can view your timeline (yours and your friends’ tweets are intermingled here), @mentions, direct messages and lists. For each tweet you have the option to reply or retweet.
The app kept track of our hashtags and @usernames so they were easy to add to the tweet. Adding a photo (either from the gallery or snapping one on the spot) was easy too – and the app offers to upload it to Twitter-friendly photo sharing site (TwitPic, TweetPhoto or yFrog). You can geo-tag tweets too.
There are some major things that need to be fixed though – right now, there’s no integration with the People hub (so people’s tweets won’t show up in their contact info), the Live tile for the app is static (it could, say, display number of new tweets) and there’s no way to automatically shorten links before you send out your tweet. But for an early version the Twitter app is very good and highly usable too.
The Twitter client on the LG E900 Optimus 7 will also feature the voice-to-text capability as in the messaging department. That too wasn’t available on our test unit though.
The LG E900 Omnia 7 comes with a built in GPS receiver and it was fast to acquire a lock and kept a strong reception. A-GPS is available and it speeds things up, but there’s no way to turn it off (it requires some data connection to do its magic).
Bing Maps for mobile is the in-house application that Microsoft has prepared for use on their Windows Phone 7 smartphones. You can view either the regular map or switch to aerial view, which brings up the satellite imagery. Unfortunately, the cool Bird’s eye view isn’t available.
Interestingly, when you zoom in down to street level, Bing maps automatically switches to satellite imagery, as well.
The three softkeys available are for directions, my location and search. The extended menu has options to clear the map of any markers you’ve placed, toggling aerial view and accessing the settings.
Browsing the map is easy and relatively fast. Zooming is done by pinching, and for a bit of eye candy when new tiles are loaded they fade in smoothly instead of just popping up. Overall the effect is looks much smoother than on Google Maps for Mobile.
A press and hold places the marker on a specific location – tap the marker and you get About (a map screenshot and the address, which you can send over a message or email) and Nearby, which shows nearby POI with a rating and basic info (like a phone and a web site).
You also get Directions from my location button, which will find step by step instructions to get you to your destination by either driving or walking.
Now for what’s missing – there’s no Navigate from here option, which can be quite useful. For example, you’re going to the theater, but want to check how far away the restaurant you’re going to afterwards is from the theater.
You can still do that, but you can’t pick it from the map – you have to use the search to find that location. Another thing – you can’t add more than one destination when planning the route (Google Maps can’t do that either though).
Unfortunately, there was no trace of voice guided navigation either, even though Windows Mobile 6.x can do it. That’s another thing that 2011 is expected to bring, though it hasn’t been confirmed officially.