30 Days With Windows Phone 7: Day 7
I do a fair amount of instant messaging and texting. There are some reports suggesting that texting is emerging as the preferred method of communication for a smartphone--more than voice. Obviously Windows Phone 7 is capable of both, but with Mango Microsoft adds a new twist. For today's 30 Days With Windows Phone 7 post, I am going to check out the Threads feature.
What is Threads? Threads is a feature of Windows Phone 7.5 (WP7.5) Mango that brings text messaging and instant messaging together--enabling you to switch between them on the fly within the context of a single conversation.
I can be instant messaging on Windows Live Messenger or Facebook Chat from my PC, then get up and leave and continue the conversation via SMS text message on my WP7.5 device. I can also continue the Windows Live Messenger or Facebook Chat IM session from the smartphone.
Threads blurs the lines between various platforms. Text messaging is generally just mobile phone to mobile phone. Instant messaging is typically PC to PC. Friends on Xbox Live normally just chat with others on Xbox Live. With Threads, I can reach my contacts and engage in a conversation regardless of what platform they are connected to.
I have an unlimited text message plan, so I never bother counting or thinking twice about the number of text messages I am using. But, Threads will help those with limited text message plans because it will enable them to receive a text message, but respond with an instant message.
Staying connected to instant messaging services drains the battery faster, so Microsoft sets the chat status offline by default. I can set my status to "available", though, to enable instant messaging and make it so others can see that I am online and ready to chat.
Ideally, I'd like to see the scope of Threads expanded to include other services. What about Skype messaging, or Twitter, or Google+ chat? There should also be an option to switch over to email if the contact just drops offline completely mid-conversation.
Threads is cool. It is a unique feature that Microsoft is bringing to the table that sets WP7.5 apart from rival mobile platforms. But, the more services or methods of communication Microsoft can integrate into Threads, the more valuable the feature will be.