Windows Phone 7, Day 13: Pros and Cons of People Hub
Another swipe takes me to the Pictures that have been shared by the contact, and one more swipe brings me to History. The History tab is very useful since it's a running log of my interactions with the contact. Looking at the History tab for my wife lets me see any emails, phone calls, and other communications we have had.
In a nutshell, the People Hub is exactly what it sounds like it should be: a hub that enables me to connect with and interact with people. It breaks down the barriers between different forms of communication, and different services, and just lets me share and communicate more effectively.
• Filter by Groups. Revisiting my complaint for a second, surfing through 1,400 contacts to find the person I am looking for is not fun. All of the contacts appear in a seemingly endless alphabetically-ordered list.
At the beginning of each new letter of the alphabetic order, though, is a square with the letter in it. Tapping any of those letters brings up a different view which simply displays a grid with all of the letters of the alphabet so you can jump to the one you want instead of having to scroll all the way down to "X", "Y", or "Z".
While jumping to the letter is better than scrolling, what is even better is grouping the contacts. Google has put the concept of segregating online relationships into Circles in the spotlight lately, and I have used the Lists in Facebook to accomplish the same thing for quite a while.
I can create groups within the People Hub to make it easier to find who I am looking for, and make following along with current events and status updates a more manageable process. I have groups for Family, Tech Geeks, Infosec, PCWorld, and PR people.
The group gives me a much shorter list of contacts to scroll through to find who I am looking for. Granted, if I know the person's name it is not really any easier to tap the group and then tap the person than it would be to navigate to the letter of the alphabet on the longer list. But, it is awesome to be able to view the "What's New" tab broken down by group and see only updates from my family, or only updates from other tech geeks.
A quick side note as I wrap up. At the top of the main People Hub view is my Facebook profile picture along with my most recent communication--currently a message I recently retweeted on Twitter. Tapping my profile picture takes me directly to the "Me" tile so I can post a message, or check-in to a location.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons here. The downside of merging all of my networks and contacts together is really just a matter of logistics. Once I clean up duplicates in the contact list, and create groups to help me segregate the people some, the fact that I can do all of my interacting with the people in my life from this one live tile rather than having to jump from app to app is a huge benefit.
That said, there is still a need for the apps. The People Hub gives me simplified access to see what's new in terms of the updates my contacts are posting, or for me to post a new status update myself, but the other features and functions of a social network like Facebook are still missing.
I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with that, or that Microsoft or Facebook should try to change that. The simplicity of the People Hub is one of its virtues. I am just pointing out that there is room for both the People Hub and the individual apps.