30 Days With Windows Phone 7: Day 13
It was a grueling experience, but now that I invested all that time getting my Outlook Contacts synced up with my smartphone on Day 12, I can move on to checking out the People Hub. The People Hub is one of the things that sets WP7 "Mango" apart from other mobile platforms, but it isn't without its own issues.
In fact, although the title says "pros and cons", I'm going to talk about it as "cons and pros". Let's just get the con out of the way up front so we can focus on the People Hub.
Who Are All These People?
I have a variety of accounts set up in Windows Phone 7 right now. There's my Facebook account, LinkedIn account, the contact information I just imported from Outlook, and my Windows Live ID--which ties in Hotmail, Windows Messenger, and Xbox Live. I could add my Google account, or Yahoo! Mail, Twitter is coming soon, and if Google+ ever leaves perpetual beta I'm sure Microsoft will consider throwing that into the mix as well.
The People Hub pulls all of the contacts and updates into one place, which is great. The problem is that when you mash everything together I have something like 1,400 contacts. My Outlook only has about 400, but the contacts I store in Outlook are different than the network I have established on Facebook, which is different than the network I have built on LinkedIn, etc.
Sure, there is overlap, but these are different networks with different scopes and audiences for a reason. The "con" here is that I have mashed all of these sources together which creates a massive collection of names and contact info that seems a bit unwieldy.
There are also more than a few instances of duplicates. I have friends who are "Andrew" on one network, and "Andy" on another. I can link the profiles to merge them into a single contact, but it is a bit tedious.
Why People Hub Is Awesome
OK, enough whining. Let's move on to the "pros" of what People Hub brings to the table.
• It's a Hub. You may recall that I made a special effort to seek out the Facebook and Twitter apps, and even complained about the lack of a LinkedIn app for Windows Phone 7. The hub concept makes the app a much smaller deal, though.
I love the People Hub because it lets me keep up with, connect with, and share with people rather than focusing on the networks or apps. Just as the Threads feature in Messaging lets me focus on the message rather than the method, the People Hub lets me focus on the people rather than having to choose which social network to engage on and switch to that app.
When I tap on a contact in the People Hub, I can engage with every aspect of my relationship with that contact. Under the Profile tab, I have access to call the person's mobile, home, or business phone. I can text message, or instant message, or write a message on the person's Facebook wall, or send an email. I can tap to see any associated websites, review any notes I've recorded for the contact, see the contact's birth date, and even pull up a map of their home address with a simple tap.
If I want to know what's going on with the contact, I can swipe to the left to "turn the page" to the What's New tab. This tab displays the status updates and messages the contact has shared with any associated social networks. Mine seems to be filled almost exclusively with Facebook status updates.