I recently reviewed Rowi, the Windows Phone Twitter app, for these very pages. Rowi has pretty much decimated the opposition in terms of quality and stability, and has become probably more popular than the official app.
So why have I stopped using it? Indeed, you might ask why I have stopped using the official app.
Well, I guess it’s down to one of the selling points of the original Windows Phone – that ideal of spending as little time as possible actually using the phone. Because the UI works so well (it is slick in a way that Windows 8 isn’t), it is so easy to do what you need to do quickly.
Because of this, and my need to not get too engaged in social networking while I’m out, I’ve come to rely on the native People tool once again.
What Is “People”?
Provided as a sort of expanded contacts tool, People (previously known as the People Hub in Windows Phone 7) has been discussed on MakeUseOf previously, most notably Android’s Facebook Home vs Windows Phone’s People Hub, in which I compared the two very similar systems of integrating social networking.
What I perhaps didn’t underline so much is the way in which the social networks are integrated here. It is an easy matter to view the what’s new page to see what your friends and contacts are up to, open their updates and comment and like – just like using Facebook.
Similarly, links can be opened and Tweets replied to – all from this simple-to-use interface. No social networking apps required! There is also the advantage of integrated Facebook chat, available via the Messaging tile (although the Facebook app is useful, it needs to load up – People doesn’t).
This is all thanks to the integrated tools that allow you to update and stay in contact with your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn networks.
Updating My Networks
Before you can check your networks, you need to have added your accounts. This is quickly completed by opening Settings > email+accounts and selecting Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (all three can be set up, although you are limited to one of each).
Once you’ve done this, you can check your contacts statuses (see below) via People, or start updating using Me, the “meople hub”, if you like.
The Me contact card appears by default on the Windows Phone Start screen, and displays your most recent update from a connected social network, relevant notifications from your contacts’ most recent activity, as well as a duplication of the what’s new page.
To update your networks, use the share screen (that’s the first one you see when you open Me), and tap post an update to display the message compose field. A box will display which social networks are selected – if you have multiple accounts setup, tap the box to display a list in which you can activate and deactivate social accounts. Once your update is entered, tap post; if multiple networks are selected, they will all be updated together.
Interacting With My Contacts
Using either of the what’s new pages (that is, the one in People or the one in Me), you can quickly respond to and share updates from your contacts and followers. This is done by tapping the small speech bubble to the right of each entry and sharing your thoughts, either by posting a comment, hitting the like button or both.
Being able to interact so effortlessly in this way is very useful, and dispenses with the need for a third party social networking app. Certainly in the case of LinkedIn and Facebook, the Windows Phone apps only offer the very basic experience. In the case of Twitter, Windows Phone doesn’t make it easy to retweet and the search tool cannot be used, but these are the only shortcomings.
Certainly photo sharing is made extremely easy…
We’ve also looked at Windows Phone photo sharing in a more holistic manner previously on MakeUseOf, but this is an opportunity to go into some detail as to just how flexible it is.
For instance, you might not know that it isn’t possible to upload or share a photo from the Me page. Instead, this is performed via Photos, where the camera roll can be accessed and items shared. Additionally, any photos your social networking contacts upload can be viewed here.
To share a photo you can either open it in Photos, select share… and choose the preferred social network, or snap a new image and choose the same share… menu option. Uploading photos to Facebook is particularly fast, as it is Twitter. LinkedIn can take a few seconds longer.
Now, I’m not saying “don’t use another third party social networking app on Windows Phone EVER AGAIN!”, but equally I’m not saying that I won’t. I can certainly foresee situations in which I might, such as at events or for heavy tweeting of particular topics.
What is intriguing about Tweeting and updating Facebook and LinkedIn natively in Windows Phone is that other platforms are beginning to follow suit. There is already an integrated Facebook app for iOS, while Facebook Home is seen as many as the first step towards greater integration on Android.
Windows Phone has certainly been a pace-setter, despite its slow adoption rate.