When Microsoft designed Windows Phone 7, one of its design goals was to design an operating system that would aggregate all the information that is really important to a user so that it all becomes accessible in a single place.
This design goal becomes apparent when you look at the way that the Windows Phone 7 operating system interfaces with Facebook.
Setting Up Facebook Connectivity
Before you can begin using all of the phone's Facebook integration features, you must establish Facebook connectivity. Fortunately, this is easy to do.
From the Start screen, flick the screen to the left to access the App List. Pan through the App List until you locate the Settings option and then tap on it. Next, tap on the Email & Accounts option, followed by the Add an Account option.
At this point, Windows will ask you what kind of account you want to create. Tap on the Facebook option, as shown in Figure A. When prompted, enter your Facebook account credentials.
Figure A Tap on the Facebook option.
As I hinted a moment ago, the Windows 7 phone is equipped with several Facebook integration features. What this means is that you don't have to worry about opening a Web browser and going to Facebook. Instead, the Facebook data comes to you.
The Me Hub
The first place in which this occurs is through the Me hub, which you can find on the Start screen or at the top of the People Hub (which I will talk about in a moment).
The Me hub provides an interface for updating your status on social networking sites. The best part is that if your phone is linked to multiple social networking sites, you can update your status on all of them at the same time.
The People Hub
In my opinion, one of the coolest features of the Windows Phone 7 operating system is the People Hub. If you have ever used one of the previous versions of Windows Mobile, you know that mobile devices had a built-in address list. If the mobile device was connected to Exchange Server via ActiveSync then the Contacts list was automatically populated with any contacts that you set up in your Exchange Contacts list.
Although the People Hub is the Windows Phone 7 operating system's answer to the legacy contact list, it is much more than just an address book. Sure, you can include basic contact information such as a person's name, phone number, e-mail address, etc., but this is only the beginning.
If you look at Figure B, you will notice that when I opened the People Hub, Windows took me to the All pane. The reason why this pane is called All is because it is showing me all my contacts.
I'm not just talking about all the contacts that I have entered into my phone or all of the contacts from my Exchange Server contact list. I'm talking about all of the contacts entered into the device, plus any contacts from Windows Live, Facebook, or Google.
Figure B Windows Phone 7 displays contacts from multiple sources through the People Hub.
While it's great to be able to have all of your contacts accessible in one place, I'm sure that some of you are probably concerned about information overload. Let me assure you that Microsoft does provide a way to create a subset of your contacts.
As I mentioned earlier, the People Hub is much more than just a contact list. Information is actually pulled from Facebook and fed into the People hub.
Unfortunately, it is going to be a little bit difficult to demonstrate how the People Hub works because I can't link Windows Phone 7 to my Facebook account without exposing all of my friends, family, and business associate's personal information. That being the case, I will simply attempt to describe the People Hub's functionality as best I can.
As you look at Figure B, you will notice that the word People extends beyond the boundaries of the screen. This is Microsoft's way of showing you that you can flick the screen to the left to access another portion of the People Hub, which is shown in Figure C.
Figure C The What's New screen provides you with Facebook status updates.
When you flick the screen to the left you will see the People Hub's What's New pane. As you can see in the figure, the What's New pane currently indicates that there is no news to share right now.
Had I actually linked Windows Phone 7 to Facebook, though, the What's New pane would show me all my friend's most recent status updates. Keep in mind that this functionality is built into the phone, and status updates are downloaded automatically without the user having to open Facebook.
Another cool thing about the What's New pane is that Facebook isn't the only social networking site that it can pull status updates from. I recently saw a demo, for example, in which the What's New screen had been configured to display status updates from both Facebook and Windows Live.
Even though the interface tells you which social networking site each status update came from, all the status updates are displayed in a uniform manner regardless of their origin. This helps to keep the interface clutter-free and easy to read.
Now that I have explained what the What's New pane is used for, I want to go back and talk just a bit more about the All pane. In Figure B, the All pane displays a list of all of your contacts.
You might have noticed that there is a blank tile just to the left of each name. Normally these tiles would display the profile photo for each of your contacts. If one of your contacts were to post a status update on a social networking site, then the contact's profile picture would be enlarged and the text portion of the status update would be displayed next to the photo.
Of course, you can always get more information about your contacts simply by tapping on them. Each contact has its own screen that's similar to the Me screen. You can see an example of such a screen in Figure D.
In this case, though, Facebook integration has not been enabled so all you see is the person's basic contact information. Had Facebook integration been enabled, you would also see all the person's status updates.
Figure D Tapping on a contact reveals its contact information and social networking updates.