Rediscovering the People Hub

Rediscovering the People Hub

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I’m surrounded by people who love the People Hub, the phone’s built-in address book and quick-stop social networking center. But I’ll be honest: When I first tried it, I thought it wasn’t for me. Sound familiar? Then keep reading, because recently I gave People another chance—and am really glad I did.

One of the perks of this job is that I’m always just a short walk away from the engineers who design and build Windows Phone. So one day I went directly to the source—a People Hub program manager named Greg, who spent an hour patiently clearing up some misconceptions and helping me discover capabilities I wasn’t aware of.

Today I thought I’d take you on a mini tour of this occasionally misunderstood phone feature and pass along some of Greg’s wisdom, so you can rediscover People too. (Don’t worry, it won’t take an hour.)

All

Let’s start with the All section, your consolidated contact list. If you’ve added Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or email accounts to your phone, you’ll see all the people tied to those accounts listed here.

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Overwhelming? It can be, especially if like me you have hundreds of contacts associated with all those different accounts. But one key thing I learned from chatting with Greg is that it doesn’t have to be that way. I can selectively hide ones I don’t want displayed in my contact list, so my inner OCD stays quiet. For me, this was huge because I like to keep my life compartmentalized.

Just tap open the More (…) menu at the bottom of the screen and tap Settings. Then tap Filter my contact list and just deselect the accounts you don’t want showing up in your contacts list.

If you looked at my phone, you’d see only my Outlook contacts visible under All. But elsewhere in People I can still see the tweets and Facebook posts from hidden contacts (although I could hide those too, if I wanted). I can also still use the Search button to find any contact, hidden or not.

What’s new

Now flick to the What’s new feed, which pulls in status updates and pictures from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (if you set up those accounts on your phone) and displays them all in one clean view.

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One early misconception I’d had was that People is supposed to be a replacement for stand-alone social networking apps like Facebook. It’s not. As Greg explained, People is designed to provide the big picture, supplying just enough info so you can easily get in touch with the people you care about and see what they’re up to.

What’s nice is that I don’t have to open up my Facebook and Twitter apps separately when I’m in a hurry. I can just come to People and scan all these updates at once. I can also like, comment, tweet and even write on someone’s wall—all from right here. There’s an option in Settings to pare down this social feed by hiding posts from hidden contacts, and another at the top of What’s New to just show one social network at a time, if you’ve set up several.

Recent

Next up is Recent, which shows the last eight people I’ve viewed or communicated with. This provides a fast way to reach people who are important to me lately. My favorite part of this section is that if I tap on a name, I can swipe over to see my communication history with that person—including texts, emails, and phone calls—all in one spot. Super handy!

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Together

Finally, the Together area holds your Rooms and Groups, two more features of Windows Phone 8 for staying in touch.

What’s the difference? A Group is a way for you to stay up to date with your favorite people. For example, I have a “My Peeps” Group pinned to my Start screen that has the 14 people I care most about. The Live Tile for My Peeps keeps me up-to-date with their posts and emails anytime I glance at my phone. I like that I can still be in the loop, without having to read everyone’s updates in my Facebook feed, for those really busy days.

A Room, on the other hand, is a private space that’s just for you to share with someone. I made a Room for my husband, so now I can read through his love notes to me (TMI ends here, I promise). Besides private messages, this Room also shows our shared calendar, photos, and my grocery and honey-do lists for him. Plus, it’s really easy to let him know where I am at any time—I just tap the location button (pictured below right) to send him my whereabouts.

Together image

A People demo

It really helped when Greg gave me a hands-on tour. So I thought I’d ask Ben Rudolph, our resident demoer extraordinaire, to do the same and show you some of the stuff I just covered. Give it a look below.

I’ve now re-pinned the People Hub to my Start screen—something I’d recommend to make quick doses of social updates even quicker. To join me, just flick left to the App list, tap and hold People and select Pin to start. What’s your favorite thing about the People Hub? I’d love to hear you experiences in comments

13 Comments
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  • RayWay
    0 Posts

    Hi,

    I am new to Windows 8 phone and to this blog.

    Recently I traded my Android phone is for a Nokia 620 and I am very happy with it so far.

    However, many things are very different and I have a question:

    I read a lot about People Hub and I really would like to use it, but can't find it in the "Store".

    Using Google I found a lot of articles about it, but nowhere a download link.

    How do I get this app on my phone?

  • Selling people on the "People Hub" is a simple concept. Overall functionality of the hub is great. If you need a but more, you can go to mobile sites or Apps, but I honestly use the hub more. My favorites to show off are the following...

    What's New - It is a one touch access to my Facebook and Twitter updates. It keeps my personal life (Facebook) and professional life (Twitter) within one click. It is basically an extension of the "Me" Tile and how WP saved me from my phone...

    Recent - Sure there's the call log, but what about those emailed conversations or text messages in between calls? People Hub brings the last 8 people front and center, regardless of type of contact. It is simple and by seeing faces instead of numbers, it is even easier to tell who called last!

    Together - I made a few groups for the people I contact the most. I have one for weekend friends, one for work contacts so I can group message them or email them all at once. I have one for emergencies and one for my little family notes. With One Note, we can do the grocery list, plan vacations, make notes for the weekend get together or whatever we need, and it is shared with our group instantly!

    All - sorting through contacts sucks. Tapping the # sign and selecting "P" to get to Peter is easy. Much better than swiping through a huge list or hoping to land in the right spot on a fast scroll.

    Overall, People Hub does what it is supposed to. For those that wish tagging was better or that you could see who liked stuff, I'm sure that's coming down the pipeline at some point, but for now, I'll keep using People Hub as my main form of Facebook on Windows Phone and a quick glance for Twitter (but if you added @ support for Tweets it would be my main App for that too!)

  • There is one thing I do not understand, this is also the reason why I downloaded separate Twitter apps and Facebook apps. There is many things you can't actually look at on the People app. For example, if someone likes something on your Facebook, it will tell you that "Bob and 6 others have liked your post," but when you tap the notification, it will never tell you who else liked the post, or same situation with photos. The People app hates "Likes" on Facebook. That's the main reason why I downloaded separate Facebook/Twitter apps. It kind of upset me that it ran like that. Another problem it has, you can't search for "non-friends" on Facebook to add them. Yet another reason why I have to stick with using a Facebook app. If the People app pushed all this out, I would fall in love with the app. Don't get me wrong I love how the People app functions, it's just the little things it misses kind of messes everything up for me.

  • Kudos to Windows Phone for creating the people hub. I don't have to worry about doing extra steps to look at social medias. All in one step!!!

  • AM83
    0 Posts

    Regarding groups, it seems that multiple select is not available when adding people to a created group. If you have a large number of contacts eg.200 that would like to add to a group for a SMS mail out, it becomes impossible to add them.

    Is there away to do multiple select for adding members to a group?

  • I like how 1/4 of the screen is taken up with the word "people" and then the group name "all/family/etc" combined with the word "people" takes up about 1/3 of the screen.  With the gigantic picture thumbnails, you can fit nearly four entries on the screen at the same time!  This greatly improves my productivity because USER EXPERIENCE.

  • The fact that I can't "reply all" to tweets is my primary reason for not using the People Hub. I love it, I want to use it but I can't.

  • The people hub is easily the BEST feature in windows phone, the one that truly makes my life easier. I have twitter and facebook linked and being able to have my twitter celebs as contacts for easy tweets is so cool! Also, I have all my facebook family and friends and ALL their contact info in one easy place. I can communicate with them any way I choose with one easy finger press. Add the ability to like, comment and retweet as well as seeing my contacts wall and pictures?? No other smartphone can offer such an easy and seamless experience, and thats just one of many reasons I am a PROUD windows phone owner!

  • Its nice & all but what about bringing back Xbox live messaging to the game hub(maybe with some people/room hub integration aswell)& maybe make it it quicker to access the phone numbers perhaps.

  • @GoodThings2Life: I'll grant you that "reply all" would be nice for tweets, but to "retweet with edit," you can already tap-and-hold to copy the tweet, paste it in the reply box, and add your comments that way. It's slower than having a dedicated button, but it does work today.

  • @mwartenberg: What do you show friends to impress them? What tips do you have?

  • The People Hub is the No. 1 Killer Feature of the Windows Phone Plattform. In Fact: it is the First Feature that i show to Friends, Collegues or Customers. But: you have to know how to use it the right way :)

  • While I understand and even appreciate the intent behind "glance and go" and big picture view mentality, there is vital functionality missing from People Hub... better tagging, comment liking (not just original post liking), and sharing functionality are really necessary to make People Hub truly useful for Facebook. On the Twitter side, Reply All as well as Retweet w/ Edit and contact tagging should be implemented.

    Aside from those common and basic feature requests, I think most can agree with the concept and usefulness of People Hub. It's actually one of my favorite aspects of Windows Phone and perhaps the one area I spend more time in than any other app or feature.

    I hope that in a near-future update that the Windows Phone team can bring these small requests to reality. Thank you for listening and thank you for continuing to make an OS designed for ME, the individual.