WP7 "Tango" coming in April; SDK update available

Hidden in a Nokia press release for the Lumia 610 you come to the information of when the Windows Phone “Tango” update will be hitting other Windows Phone devices. According to them, the update will be available sometime in April and will still come under the “Windows Phone 7.5” version umbrella.

It seems to indicate the update will be available for devices that are not low-end, with the major selling point being improved support for China in both language (via software) and networks (via hardware). Other things that the Tango update will bring include lowering the hardware requirements to support 256 MB of RAM and Qualcomm’s MSM7X27A S1 Snapdragon processors that can be clocked as low as 800 MHz as we can see in the Lumia 610.

As you might expect from lowering the hardware requirements, there are some downsides on the software side. Bing Local Scout is not available for these devices, and automatic photo uploads to SkyDrive is not supported (although manual uploads are still possible). Some Marketplace applications, and more likely games, will also probably not be supported on the slower hardware.

Now it isn’t entirely clear as to whether the Tango update will be available to consumers in April or simply hardware manufacturers. The Verge indicates that the latter is what will occur, although as manufactures such as ZTE and Nokia clearly have the update already there is a possibility that we’ll see it on already released devices in April. There aren't many announced updates that cater for higher-end devices though, so it mainly helps hardware developers create cheaper WP hardware.

Also out now for all the Windows Phone developers out there is a test SDK update, which includes a new Windows Phone emulator that allows you to test apps on 256 MB of RAM in preparation for Tango. As it notes clearly on the download page, it’s a pre-release update with no support for publishing applications. Microsoft also advises against installing it on your primary development machine.

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manosdoc said,
sweet! When others throw Quad beasts and Gigs of memory just to run their slowoid, Windows Phone OS 7.5 can deal smoothly with 256RAM.

Really? You are aware that there are brand new Android devices running Gingerbread that have 800Mhz CPU's...right?

And just because you can run Windows Phone on a lower clocked CPU, doesn't mean its a good idea. First off, as the articles states, that means many games in the app store won't even work because the first phones had faster CPU's. That means some kiddie games would have to be made for the lesser phones.

This is not a good idea. 1GHz CPU's ahve been out since 2009. They should be fairly cheap enough that it can be the minimum CPU Windows Phone can have phone makers use.

I mean how much cheaper do these phones really need to be to sell them in other markets?

This is going to force soem fragmentation on the WP7 OS.

TechieXP said,

Really? You are aware that there are brand new Android devices running Gingerbread that have 800Mhz CPU's...right?

And just because you can run Windows Phone on a lower clocked CPU, doesn't mean its a good idea. First off, as the articles states, that means many games in the app store won't even work because the first phones had faster CPU's. That means some kiddie games would have to be made for the lesser phones.

This is not a good idea. 1GHz CPU's ahve been out since 2009. They should be fairly cheap enough that it can be the minimum CPU Windows Phone can have phone makers use.

I mean how much cheaper do these phones really need to be to sell them in other markets?

This is going to force soem fragmentation on the WP7 OS.

my LG Optimus S has a 600Mhz CPU and 2.2 and it rarely lags... the only app that is a laggin waggin is facebook and it fails anyways.

TechieXP said,

Really? You are aware that there are brand new Android devices running Gingerbread that have 800Mhz CPU's...right?

And just because you can run Windows Phone on a lower clocked CPU, doesn't mean its a good idea. First off, as the articles states, that means many games in the app store won't even work because the first phones had faster CPU's. That means some kiddie games would have to be made for the lesser phones.

This is not a good idea. 1GHz CPU's ahve been out since 2009. They should be fairly cheap enough that it can be the minimum CPU Windows Phone can have phone makers use.

I mean how much cheaper do these phones really need to be to sell them in other markets?

This is going to force soem fragmentation on the WP7 OS.

That is hardly true. You're jumping to assumptions that have all been discredited by Joe Belfiore's blog post. He said that currently only 5% of apps are not compatible and that they felt those apps would be able to be compatible. So it's a non issue and not fragmentation.

TechieXP said,

I mean how much cheaper do these phones really need to be to sell them in other markets?

Cheap enough for a Foxconn worker to buy their own creation. By my estimate the prices need to drop another 50% for one to be affordable.

TechieXP said,

And just because you can run Windows Phone on a lower clocked CPU, doesn't mean its a good idea. First off, as the articles states, that means many games in the app store won't even work because the first phones had faster CPU's. That means some kiddie games would have to be made for the lesser phones.

The 800Mhz processor in question actually benchmarks at around the same speed as the original 1Ghz used in first gen WP devices, and the GPU is actaully upgraded and better than the original GPU, along with these chips actually being more power efficient. This chip is going to likely make graphical performance in games better.

The only potential problems with apps are those that use OVER 90MB of RAM, which is very rare, considering the guideline for the marketplace has always been to always aim for a max of 90MB... that and it usually takes a mess of code to reach 90MB unless you're chucking around a lot of large images, and at which point developers can usually easily optimise. (There's estimated to only less than 5% of apps that'll need to be optimised).

TechieXP said,

Really? You are aware that there are brand new Android devices running Gingerbread that have 800Mhz CPU's...right?

And just because you can run Windows Phone on a lower clocked CPU, doesn't mean its a good idea. First off, as the articles states, that means many games in the app store won't even work because the first phones had faster CPU's. That means some kiddie games would have to be made for the lesser phones.

This is not a good idea. 1GHz CPU's ahve been out since 2009. They should be fairly cheap enough that it can be the minimum CPU Windows Phone can have phone makers use.

I mean how much cheaper do these phones really need to be to sell them in other markets?

This is going to force soem fragmentation on the WP7 OS.

95% of apps will run fine, and microsoft will provide an additional emulator mimicking phones with 256 ram so that the other apps will be able to run better.

They're going to run out of names for updates really quickly if they have to end in "ango". I can only think of "quango" and "fandango"...

mrbester said,
They're going to run out of names for updates really quickly if they have to end in "ango". I can only think of "quango" and "fandango"...

Next in line is Apollo.

mrbester said,
They're going to run out of names for updates really quickly if they have to end in "ango". I can only think of "quango" and "fandango"...

The naming scheme is that all updates end in "o"... lol That should be a little easier for you.

I just don't understand this. Surely continuing to produce the first generation devices must be cheaper than designing and manufacturing these new devices that use new low end hardware. I can't imagine the original Snapdragon chip costing a whole lot anymore!

mrp04 said,
I just don't understand this. Surely continuing to produce the first generation devices must be cheaper than designing and manufacturing these new devices that use new low end hardware. I can't imagine the original Snapdragon chip costing a whole lot anymore!

This is for cheaper markets so that the device can be sold cheaper... Also, you have to keep in mind that they still want there to be a reason to purchase a higher speced device if you so desire, so I'm sure they want to have a spec difference...

M_Lyons10 said,

This is for cheaper markets so that the device can be sold cheaper... Also, you have to keep in mind that they still want there to be a reason to purchase a higher speced device if you so desire, so I'm sure they want to have a spec difference...

But look at the price. I believe the Nokia 610 is around $175. Can the first gen WP devices not be sold at that price? How much does 256MB RAM even cost? Isn't the original Snapdragon really cheap now? Selling those devices requires no hardware or software development, they're already made.

mrp04 said,

But look at the price. I believe the Nokia 610 is around $175. Can the first gen WP devices not be sold at that price? How much does 256MB RAM even cost? Isn't the original Snapdragon really cheap now? Selling those devices requires no hardware or software development, they're already made.

Yeah, but if they're selling those devices cheap, what would the point be in paying more for them? It makes sense to do it this way. They are entry level devices... You will never get them to purchase a nicer device if you just give them to them for cheaper "just because"... Also, that $ 175 is without carrier subsidy... The HTC Trophy as an example without subsidy is like $ 400...

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, but if they're selling those devices cheap, what would the point be in paying more for them? It makes sense to do it this way. They are entry level devices... You will never get them to purchase a nicer device if you just give them to them for cheaper "just because"... Also, that $ 175 is without carrier subsidy... The HTC Trophy as an example without subsidy is like $ 400...

What are you talking about? The first generations are old and no longer sold in expensive markets. They get discontinued. I'm saying it would be better for everyone to continue manufacturing the old devices and sell them for cheap in developing markets. I'm not saying to sell the latest expensive devices for cheap in developing markets.

Their value has dropped by a lot by the time they get discontinued. That's less hardware and software that needs to be developed and less phones that need to be updated when a new version of the OS is released. First gen devices can't cost much different to manufacture than these new devices cost to design and manufacture.

$400 is just the sticker price for the Trophy, not what its actual value is or what anyone sane would pay for one. Take a look at the Samsung Focus for example. That is a first generation device. Just last week J&R was selling it brand new, unlocked for $185.

mrp04 said,
I just don't understand this. Surely continuing to produce the first generation devices must be cheaper than designing and manufacturing these new devices that use new low end hardware. I can't imagine the original Snapdragon chip costing a whole lot anymore!
This type of hardware shift was clearly expected, but it was expected in the opposite direction until details of Tango were released. It's the one unavoidable form of fragmentation: hardware differentiation. After all, there already exist faster Windows Phones (my Samsung Focus S has a 1.4 GHz processor, but still 512 MB of RAM).

I do think that it is a step backward because they are lowering minimum specifications below older specifications. However, given that there are not many hardcore games on Windows Phone yet, I do not expect any significant changes to work on these slower phones for the vast majority of apps. I am mostly in agreement that this felt unnecessary because I believe that the original Samsung Focus was likely cheap enough to sell off contract for much less than it actually does if put to scale. I think, in reality, that there is a divergent market in place where the Samsungs of the world want to make cheap phones (Tango-esque) for pay-as-you-go type buyers and emerging markets, and there is a mental cutoff that exists to stop 1 GHz and 512 MB (probably the bigger issue) from entering into that price range.

Clearly, Nokia drove this decision because they want to take over the not-quite smartphone market with Windows Phones by offering the full experience with less performance, and I personally see that as a great solution. It all comes down to the margin that the manufacturer can make per phone, and Nokia thinks that Windows Phone will sell at this range. Most importantly, I think that they believe that these will sell in markets where people want the smartphone, but the cost of the phone is actually a significant part of the hurdle more than the monthly plan.

Once Apollo (WP8) comes out with native code support, the bigger, real games will start to arrive (as rapid ports from iOS, I imagine) and we will see hardware differentiation start to come into play. Furthermore, as Apollo rolls onto hardware, I think we will all see a performance increase from better resource handling by the Windows 8 kernel, as seen in Windows 8. It uses less processor cycles and less RAM to accomplish more. As Microsoft's competitors raise their hardware prices to add more features, Microsoft is doing something that they are not generally recognized for (outside of Microsoft fans, and the various Service Packs that people take for granted): optimizing the experience and making it perform a lot better with less hardware.

In summary, I agree that lowering the processors and RAM is a small step backward, but I think that Windows Phone will actually make it work. I do look forward to having a phone with a processor, and GBs of RAM with it, driving the capability to dock with a 1080p (or more) monitor, keyboard and mouse, but until the hardware on the phone is ready for that as well as the software, then I don't see a reason to pay for it. I cannot help but wonder when phones can realistically start to do that as well as providing the ability to run real software along with it (e.g., if I wanted to run Visual Studio on my phone while docked), but that will initially be a power user's phone for years until hardware prices plummet to make it available to the masses with lots of storage, RAM and a fast processor.

mrp04 said,

But look at the price. I believe the Nokia 610 is around $175. Can the first gen WP devices not be sold at that price? How much does 256MB RAM even cost? Isn't the original Snapdragon really cheap now? Selling those devices requires no hardware or software development, they're already made.


it's 175 euros, not dollars

Sweet! I wonder how long AT&T will take to deliver this update, seeing how they have flipped the bird to the keyboard fix update.

Dot Matrix said,
Sweet! I wonder how long AT&T will take to deliver this update, seeing how they have flipped the bird to the keyboard fix update.

Carriers can only not release one update at a time, so AT&T would have to allow the next update. Verizon held the security fix update that came before the keyboard fix update, so I'm hoping they don't hold Tango then...

As you might expect from lowering the hardware requirements, there are some downsides on the software side. Bing Local Scout is not available for these devices, and automatic photo uploads to SkyDrive is not supported

It's stupid to say that these features are not available because of the lower hardware requirement.

Even with 256mb of ram and 800mhz, the hardware is perfectly capable to support live tiles and background upload without slowdown.

The real reason these features are disabled is to lower data consumption. This way, network operators are guaranteed that these devices won't be data hogs, and they will be able to sell these devices very cheaply with small data plans, at a lower cost for the end user.

Another reason could be to save battery. Without background push connection, a good autonomy can be achieved with a smaller and cheaper battery.

Noveed said,
When is the Tango Beta phone update going to be available for Devs? That's what I want to know

Well the tech preview of the tango sdk is out now so i'd say maybe late March for a beta and dev phone updates if they're going to release it in April.

Going by the SDK the OS version should be 7.11.xxxx now it seems.

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