Microsoft detailed on Wednesday both the planned Mango update to its Windows Phone smartphone platform, due this autumn with nearly 1,500 new APIs, and development tool improvements to help build applications for the platform.

With Mango, Microsoft is building up its phone platform in such areas as list scrolling, memory usage and data access. "Mango now includes a local SQL database that allows you to save and query data within your apps," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice-president of Microsoft's .Net developer platform, at the Mix11 conference in Las Vegas. APIs, meanwhile, expose capabilities like the Silverlight 4 rich Internet plug in feature set.

Data loads faster in Mango. While Windows Phone 7 freezes when it gets new data, Mango is "immediately responsive even if the data hasn't come in", Guthrie said. A generational garbage collector allows for garbage collection of memory without pausing the application. "This enables much faster application startup and much smoother interaction, especially with games."

Mango will support the newly released Internet Explorer 9 browser, including the core browsing engine for high performance, said Joe Belfiore, Microsoft corporate vice-president of Windows Phone program management. The smartphone OS upgrade also will support an 16 additional languages, including Asian languages while search capabilities are improved as well. Mango also boasts HTML5 capabilities, such as background audio playing from the browser and native application improvements in areas like data integration.

"There's a lot of things we're doing in this release to enable you to better integrate your application, the data and the services and the sensors on the phone," Belfiore said. Also, multitasking enables faster application switching. Background code execution is conducted to improve battery life while jump list capabilities help users get right to applications.

Windows Phone Developer Tools for building Mango applications will be available for free next month, featuring improved emulator capabilities, including location simulation. Profiling support in the tools allows developers to identify hot spots in an application and pinpoint problems. "It'll actually walk you through the code that you need to fix in order to address them," Guthrie said. Also, a memory allocation capability tracks objects based on how much memory is being allocated.

As had been expected, Microsoft also announced the beta release of Silverlight 5 plug in platform described by Guthrie as being for "premium" experiences. Support for Silverlight 5 in Microsoft's Visual Studio and Expression Studio tools is also available.

Version 5, which is due to reach the release-to-manufacturing stage later this year, includes such capabilities as Hardware Video Decode, for enhanced video quality, and an XNA-based interface for 3D visualisations within applications. Release-to-manufacturing generally means the product will be available shortly thereafter. The beta release is available at the Silverlight website.