Tweet-ness! How Twitter works in Mango

Tweet-ness! How Twitter works in Mango

  • Comments 43
  • Likes

As an active Twitter user on the Windows Phone team, I was excited when I first learned that Twitter integration was coming to our phone. But I admit I was also skeptical. We’ve had great Facebook integration for a while now, but Twitter is a different animal. And not just on the surface—the way that you communicate on Twitter is fundamentally different from Facebook.

Would combining these feeds on a small screen just amount to a lot of extra noise?

Well, I’m happy to report that that’s not the case at all. In fact, my phone is now the primary place where I both check and post to Twitter (along with Facebook and LinkedIn), and it’s become one of my favorite new features coming in Windows Phone 7.5 (aka Mango). Part of what makes it great is that it’s flexible. In the People Hub, for example, when I’m checking feeds, it’s fast and easy to filter. I can see stuff from just one social network—or all of them—with just a couple quick taps.

show-updates-from

I follow a lot of people on Twitter, so I usually check Twitter and Facebook separately. Filtering makes it possible to do that very easily without leaving the People Hub. You can also go deeper into the People Hub settings and fine tune your settings even more.

So, I’ve talked about the People Hub. But for me, the elegance of the Twitter integration really shines in another spot: the Me Card.

me-profile

In the current version of Windows Phone, the Me Card is fairly sparse—sometimes I forget it’s even there. In fact, I once had a friend ask me how to get it back on his Start screen because he’d unpinned it (answer: tap People, tap your photo, then tap the Pin icon.)

In Mango, the Me Card has transformed into possibly the most useful Tile on my Start screen. Any time someone comments on my Facebook status, posts something to my Wall, or mentions me in a tweet, I get a neat little notification on my Tile.

start-screen-me-tile

I’ve been using Mango with Twitter for a few weeks now, but this past weekend was the true test. I was headed to the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), a 3-day gaming convention in downtown Seattle. There’s a lot to see and do at PAX, and I wanted to keep up with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends without having my nose buried in my phone all weekend. Each time I noticed a notification on my Me tile, all I had to do was tap it and flick to Notifications, and all the stuff I wanted to see was right there.

I could easily tell which ones were new and which ones I’d already seen, and then respond, like, retweet, or what have you. So, when the crazy group of 20 dudes dressed like Lando Calrissian from Star Wars came marching by, I was able to take a quick pic and share it without missing any of the action. And despite the different conventions that Twitter and Facebook use, it all felt very seamless.

me-notifications

A quick flick on the Me card brings up What’s New. Think of it like your personal feed: it has everything you’ve posted to any of your social networks in chronological order. This was useful as well, as I could see at a glance which new posts had been commented on or responded to.

me-whats-new

Another flick and I’m on the Profile pivot, where I can do things like check in or post a message. Here you can also choose where you want to post while you’re posting. If I want to put something on Twitter, say, but not Facebook, it’s super easy to do that.

post-updates-to

If you’re familiar with Twitter or Facebook, then some of these tasks will seem fairly basic. And you might be thinking, “I can already do this stuff on a bunch of different devices out there.” That’s true, but on Windows Phone, the difference is that you can do them all without ever opening an app. That might seem like a fine distinction, but after a long weekend at PAX, I can say it’s really made a big difference in how I interact with people.

Twitter and Facebook no longer feel like programs I have to access, but rather services that I’m always plugged in to. It doesn’t feel like my apps are connected to my friends—it feels like my phone itself is connected, and I’m always one step closer.

Andy Myers is a consumer writer on the Windows Phone Engineering team. He’s also a musician and student of vintage video games. His Twitter handle is @Stenobot.

43 Comments
You must be logged in to comment. Sign in or Join Now
  • Rob
    4 Posts

    can anyone tell me why the Twitter feed shows up on some contacts and others?  I have tried editing the contact and re-synchronising my Twitter account on the phone but still no joy.  I have also tried Linking but the Twitter account doesnt show up.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    @Kenny Rawlings:  I have an HD2.  Trust me, I understand #1 completely.  In fact I was just playing around on it...  Ironic.

  • jcq
    1 Posts

    DO any of you guys know about a current mango update and where to get it.. I have a friend that has done the beta and it runs perfect but havent been able to reach him and I really want it on my phone due to all these new features.. can someone help please?

  • Ivan
    2 Posts

    Thanks for the post.  For a while I was trying to figure out how the new Twitter integration works with the phone.  Your post (and the comments) cleared up a lot of questions.  Thanks.

  • KR
    503 Posts

    @Nater

    While most of your points for Android against WP makes no sense to me,I agree with you on two things.

    1-No matter how much I hate Android and iOS I admit the fact that they've way more functionalities than the premature WP OS.in fact I am just like you,I still had to carry my Omnia2(running WM6.5) along with my HD7,because the HD7 served me as a regular cell phone and a web browser,all the productivity things I do them on my Omnia2(though slow,atleast it does way more).after knowing that mango wouldn't change much to my experience because I am not a huge social networker I decided to sell my HD7 and surprisingly I don't miss it at all.

    2-The second thing I agree with is the points you brought up on the beginning of iPhone not having anything to do with the beginning of WP.you are completely right

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Nater

    Everyone says iPhone was revolutionary when it was released, but is that actually true? Or has apple merely succeeded in pushing that narrative to the world?  The iPhone was a smartphone, which (believe it or not) actually existed in 2007.  I suppose what they did that was new as put two technologies (MP3 player and phone) together in a seemless way, but I've never really bought into the whole "It changed the world merely by its invention!" vibe.

    It changed the world by making smartphones cool, rather than something reserved for business people.  Neat trick, not revolutionary.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Also, what does iPhone release have to do with anything?  Apple device was revolutionary when it released.  WP7, isn't.  Android was competing with iOS years ago and Windows Mobile/Symbian/Blackberry - all three of which are either dead or being sunsetted/replaced by the companies that develop them.

    iOS in 2007 has absolutely nothing to do with WP7's half-baked state.  Apple could afford to release with some of those features missing in 2007 because what features they added were not commonplace on other smartphones - at least not the way they implemented them.

    Microsoft should have waited 6 months to bake WP7 a bit more.  The platform has a generally bad reputation, at least in these parts, and it's borderline unusable for people who want to get stuff done other than chain loading social updates because they were too dumb to see that a People Hub that didn't background update with barely any features is less useful than a buggy third party app that at least can do most stuff...

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Who looks for stuff on Android?  Practically all Tier 1 apps/services support push and like I've said, Samsung and HTC phones have had Social Hubs since 2009 or before.  You don't even need a Facebook app to get at the functionality the current consumer version of WP7 offers.  The Andorid phones actually do more, better, faster, and in a more sane manner.  I've never had to wait for Social Hub to "load" updates whenever I went into my Contacts app on my Vibrant.  On my HD7 it's a constant whirlwind of "loading," which also makes for a TERRIBLE experience when you're in an area without a good data connection.  If you hadn't checked the phone in 3 hours, you might miss out on 3+ hours of Facebook updates, among other things.  I'm literally forced to carry my Android phone and use it as a Daily driver becasue of this.

    Social Networking is all about being "in the moment."  Things are just not as epic when you see a funny social update 2 hours late because the phone doesn't push anything.

    Android supports Universal Search (even into third party apps), Widgets (which can function similarly to Live tiles), Push Notifications, etc.  It has a decent Notification system far superior to WP7.  These are areas Microsoft needs to work on.  Notifications in WP7 is a show-stopper for me.  I can't see myself staying with the HD7.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to be upgrading to the Galaxy S II so I don't have to carry two phones, soon.  Zune Pass isn't worth it now that Spotify is available in the US, and iPods are cheap, anyways...

    If you want to sit in denial and complacency instead of push them to offer a superior experience, that's you.  Looking good can only take you so far.  There comes a point where function trumps fashion.

    It's been almost 1 year since launch.  I shouldn't have to deal with this device in this state this long, especially after all the hype Microsoft drove up about iterating quickly on the platform and delivering updates quickly.  Thanks, but no thanks.

  • And, see, @Nater, I completely disagree with you.  I find getting around ANYTHING in Android to be a juggernaut, an obstacle course.  It's complete and utter chaos, even after customizing the heck out of it, as far as I'm concerned.  After all is said and done, you're sitting there plugging through a bunch of apps & widgets.  I think that's a horrible way to operate, and I was glad to give that up when I left Windows Mobile behind.  You claim the apps on Android are better, but you give no specifics---you just blurt out that accusation.  The fact is that app preferences, along with any other preference, is completely subjective.  You clearly love the Android OS.  As a result, you view every other platform, the apps & features, through that lens.  And that's fine, of course.  I'm saying that the issues you brought up and proprosed solutions aren't necessarily as important to the masses as they are to you.  I find that the less cluttered the OS is the better---personall, I don't want a bunch of text floating all over the place like you apparently do.  I can get to exactly what I need to  in a quick, intuitive way.  What you described is NOT what I would call intuitive.  It may seem obvious to you, but that's a very subjective opinion.  Now, you might be right after all, and Microsoft may include that in future updates (it's not in Mango).  If so, great for you---not so great for me.  But they are listening to all the things brought up people, even if they don't always acknowledge it.

    iPhone was half-baked when it launched and it was a couple of years before it matured.  Android, the same way.  Since WP7 is a new approach to SO many aspects of mobile access, it's going to go through the same growing pains.  Yes, I agree with most that it should have launched with at least the capability of Mango, but the fact is it was a choice to get devices and the OS out into the wild sooner rather than later.  Now we're all waiting for the release of the completed version of Mango, along with new devices.  I, for one, am convinced that the newer devices will be quite competitive.  It just depends on what you expect from a smartphone.  Those coming from a feature phone are probably most open to the benefits of the WP7 approach.  It's a tougher sell to those coming from iOS or Android, because they already have biases.  That's that nature of the beast.

  • Nater
    147 Posts

    Quote:  "@keithpatton You can Retweet right from the People Hub or your Me card, but Direct Messages in Twitter will require an app."

    You see, this is the problem with Windows Phone 7.  Yes, it integrates this and that, but not really much better than the typical Samsung or HTC Android smartphone.  If you want to do even rather mundane stuff like send a DM or Offline Message on Facebook, you have to use an App, which puts the platform at a disadvantage, because Android and iOS Twitter/FB apps are so wildly superior to what's on Windows Phone 7 ...  it's not even funny.

    The lack of a Universal Notification cache is a REAL issue.  There should be a way to swipe to the right on the homescreen to see a pane to the left (app list on the right of home screen) where Notifications are cached.  Toast Notifications are virtually useless because they are gone when they're gone.  Live Tile Counters are useless because there is no context.  The way WP7 handles Notifications, it actually makes the user do more work than on competing platforms (like iOS/Android) to see what came in and prioritize the user's handling of those Notifications.

    Really, it just blows my mind how bad notifications are in this OS right now.  It's worse than HD2 with Sense.

    If Facebook and Twitter aren't pushed to the phone, I'll probably just throw this HD7 in the trash and wait for the Galaxy S II to launch in the US.  The current people Hub is useless.  Anything "Social" that doesn't upload in the background and provide decent "on the mark" Notifications is useless.  Fortunately, I carry an Android phone for that stuff at the moment.  The HD7 is merely a ZuneHD at this point.  Not much else I can do with it, sadly.

    And yes, that sounds negative.  But really...  I feel like I'm running a Beta OS that can only compete with Feature Phones on that device.  It's been almost a year.  I'm fed up with it, and regretful.  If I had known Microsoft would be slower to deliver a major update than Samsung is for major Android updates, I would never have considered buying a WP7 device in 2010 or 2011 for that matter.

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    Thanks Andy Myers for the patience in answering my never ending questions!  Just one more....no I'm kidding that's it.

  • Twitter is one of those sites/apps that after 10 years, people will remember how stupid it was.  Facebook is a close second.  With all this talk about Mango, it better give me a semi-chubby just looking at the phone.  I sure hope it does because Android was never all that great.  Just because its popular doesn't mean its better, for example:  Apple products.

  • @ tsrblke Groups don't have to be pinned. They show up at the top of your contacts list in the People Hub, and can always be accessed there. Regarding your question about Twitter Lists: Right now, Lists are not integrated into the Me Card or the People Hub experience--so you'll need to use an app to access them, including ones that you're following. It's great for us to hear that this is something that's important to users, though. We're listening, and as I said before, we'll continue to invest in this experience for future releases.

  • @Andy Myers

    I know this has nothing to do with the post but sense you're apart of the engineering team...What is gonna happen to Bluetooth? Are there any improvements to it in Mango? ... because I haven't heard any talk about it yet.

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Andy Myers

    Thanks, that's helpful.  It would seem close enough to at least make things functional.  Groups don't have to pinned do they? (I haven't seen Mango yet in person, except for a few quick things someone showed me at PAX.)  Speaking of PAX, my list is a public list: twitter.com

    Which actually raises a second question, I follow a list or two on twitter, that I don't really want to show up in my timeline. Like this one: twitter.com (which I suppose I'll dump and replace with the 2012 version next year).  Right now I can get to those in the Twitter app, if I jump through a ton of hoops (I have to go view my profile, then click the popup menu, then go to lists, then swipe over.)  Ideally this would just be in the "Lists" panel in the main part of the app (leveraging the metro UI.)

    How would something like this work in Mango though?  I suppose the twitter app won't go away (so I can still do the hoop jumping) but I'd love to be able to access it without loading an app, or Rebuilding the list someone else built.

  • @rads06 You can tweet pictures from the Pictures hub--they'll be stored on SkyDrive. I believe yfrog and twitpic are both supported in the official Twitter app.

    @Yakko Unfortunately, I don't have any specific dates to share. But I can say that we know updating is a big deal to users, and we're working hard alongside our partners to get Mango out the door and onto peoples' phones.

    @keithpatton You can Retweet right from the People Hub or your Me card, but Direct Messages in Twitter will require an app.

    @Sogeman Thanks for the suggestions. And yes, I'm pretty sure the Me card does show notifications from people you don't follow. Regarding our option-hating problem ;) ...I do think Mango has come a long way in that area. Particularly in the People Hub, there are some great new filtering options that really let you control your contact list and What's New feed.

    @fjmoreno Great suggestions, thanks!

  • I love the Twitter integration in WP7. It is not as good as Facebook, but I guess it will be improved in future updates. A couple of issues that need to fixed / improved:

    1. SkyDrive URLs should be shortened

    2. Pictures from SkyDrive should have a preview in the Twitter page, not just the (long and ugly) link

    3. Change "via WindowsLive" to "via Windows Phone". This is a good chance to promote Windows Phone!

    4. Contact suggestion when typing "@"

    5. Receive DMs directly to the phone

    Also, a suggestion for Facebook integration:

    1. Add support for Facebook  messages (offline chat)

    Finally, an advice for other users. In order to send a DM, just type "D " (with space) before the contact name e.g: "D @twitteruser this is a DM"

    Thanks!

  • Sogeman
    51 Posts

    Edit 2: What I forgot, please show Twitter usernames in big not the real names. Many people don't have real names entered and I don't follow people I know IRL on Twitter so I hardly know who posts that tweet until I read the name below. Turn it around, real name below the tweet or give us an option to turn it around. (I know, Microsoft hates giving options, but maybe jump over your option-hating shadow ;)

  • Sogeman
    51 Posts

    Edit: Ok, notifications are on the ME tile, but does it show notifications from people you don'T follow?

  • Sogeman
    51 Posts

    A few things to change about Twitter (and one for Facebook)

    1. Let me use established picture sharing options or make a good mobile Skydrive option that can show the pictures on any device and uses url shorteners. Currently it's just sh**. At least use the official picture thing they have now

    2. Direct Messages in the messages hub

    3. Toast notifications and settings for what you want notifications for (mentions, dms..)

    4. Integrated picture viewer so IE doesn't have to open

    5. Make it show up as Windows Phone and not WindowsLive

    I always have to open the bad Twitter app to tweet pictures just because I don't want a long string of a skydrive url in the tweet and not every device can view Skydrive pictures (iphone can't for example). I only use the integrated Twitter for posting simple updates, it's pretty useless for anything else (mostly since you don't get notifications and I think you can't see mentions from people you don't follow in the timeline. You have to go to the Me tile for that. -.-

    And the one for Facebook in case anyone's interested: get Facebook to recognized WP as a 1st party app. I still have to use the Facebook app because I don't see all status updates. And no, I'm not telling people to change their privacy settings for me. Facebook integration is pretty useless to me right now.

  • are direct messages and retweets available or not? Please confirm!! without dms via the messaging hub, this still requires an app right??

  • I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to get here already so I can open that present I just *know* is a new video game system (I feel old thinking of just what video game system I was excited about as a kid).

    By the way, please don't make me wait until Christmas to get the Mango update.  This "wait for the carrier" business is one of the more annoying issues with updates.  I'm glad I didn't have to wait for ASUS to certify before applying WIndows 7 Service Pack 1.

  • rads06
    7 Posts

    how do pictures work? is there yfrog or twitpic integration?

  • @Neil__C Thanks for the suggestion! I'll definitely pass that on to the team.

    @tsrblke I'll concur with Shawn here. When you filter Twitter contacts out of your contact list (as they are by default), they are still accessible in many other ways. It's pretty easy to make a Group with contacts that don't exist in your list. Actually, I'm kicking myself now after seeing your PAX group suggestion. I should have done that!

  • Neil__C
    7 Posts

    @Andy Myers

    Love the twitter integration. Particularly clever is that if you click on the body of a tweet, you go to that tweet but if you click on the header, you go straight to the embedded URL - fantastc for things like Engadget posts.

    There is one improvement I would live to see: everytime time I go to what's new, it updates. This is sensible but it the resets to the most recent entry. I would prefer the lust to remain at the last-read position from where I could scroll up chronologically. I dislike the 'goto top after refresh' so much that I'm still using a twitter app instead of the people hub. Could this be addressed - even just as an option setting?

    Hope that made sense.

  • @tsrblke

    Then you'll be happy with Mango.  By default, Twitter contacts don't show up in the contact list (though you can change that if you like).  BUT, you can still search for them and add them to Groups.  Win win!

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Andy Myers

    That presupposes of course that people in my twitter are in my contact list (or that I'd want that.)

    Primarily I use twitter as a way to stay abreast of news and commentary (look at my followings, very few friends, mostly companies and pundits and such.)

    For PAX for example I had a PAX list (@official_pax, @PAX_lines, etc.) I don't really care to have these in my contact list, so I can't really create a group for them.  I'm faced with a Hobbisian choice, either import those contacts are go listless.  Not really a choice I'd like to make.

  • Keep the feedback coming!  We will continue to invest in the integrated experience with each release. So far I'm seeing Lists and Push Notifications would be interesting--anything else? Btw, you can get a List-like experience in Mango by creating Groups of Twitter contacts, and pinning those Groups to Start. That way, you get customized "What's New" feeds for each Group, plus Live Tile notifications for each Group.

  • @Daedalus Yes! Twitter accounts will automatically link to someone's existing contact card. You can mention someone directly from there--pretty handy. Also, there's a really useful setting that allows you to decide which contacts from which services (including Twitter) will show up in your contact list.

  • Yeah without push notifications I'll stick to rowi app.

  • I would like to have Push notification from Twitter.

  • Entegy
    42 Posts

    @Daedalus Madan Yes, 7712 has Twitter support (I'm using it), but for me for example, I can't actually Tweet from the Me card. I can respond to tweets, it's just a fresh tweet never makes it to Twitter. Hope that's fixed once everything's up and running!

  • TDA
    8 Posts

    Twitter in Mango is great, I love it, but this post reminds me of something else. When do we users and bloggers get the ability to make screenshots? I can't understand why you don't want to share this feature with us.

  • mog0
    8 Posts

    One obvious question. When someone responds to one of your facebook posts, can you get it to make a noise and pop up a toast alert (like incoming SMS) or do you have to constantly look at your me tile?

  • can you link twitter accounts to contacts now? with Mango beta 2 v7712 there is no way to link a live account to a twitter account

  • dynoben
    1 Posts

    Have to agree with rohitharsh, Twitter integration with "what's new" in the People Hub isn't appropriate.  I need to limit it to a specific list (or lists).  Ideally there could be multiple "what's new" sections in the People Hub so I can have a separate list for Facebook from my Twitter list as the FaceBook messages are of more value to me so I don't want them disappearing down the list because of the amount of tweets that could appear.  Until something around Lists is implemented I'm going to have to have the Twitter option disabled in the People Hub and revert back to an app :-(

    I do however really like the "Me Card" integration.

  • Lists!! Cannot do anything without them. I don't think it supports lists. I have list for Tech,Top,Football etc. I hope you guys integrate that.

  • KR
    503 Posts

    Good job,though the other social networks are useless to me since the only one i use is facebook,but still on that the notification thing is all i needed to make me never open my broser to facebook.

  • Simply beautiful integration! When people add their social networks through Windows Live services, it opens the real pleasure of having everything happening with your friends at different social networks and being able to read it in one place :D

  • Bring on the functionality. I love it! This will invite more users and that's very important right now.

  • CoryZ40
    1 Posts

    @Aaron That's available in the current version. You can pick between Facebook and Windows Live. In this post, the last image also demonstrates how this feature will soon integrate more networks, such as Twitter.

  • Also why dont we have to ability to toggle between multiple networks? Ie. I only want to see Facebook and Twitter and not Windows Live for example. That is needed

  • you know what i miss? a notification for a native retweet. why is it not there?