Windows Phone 7: Facebook vs People Hub

January 20, 2011, By Christian Cawley

The new Windows Phone 7 mobile platform from Microsoft is a brand new operating system for a modern generation of mobile phones, discarding every aspect of the old OS in favour of a more streamlined user experience.

Arguably they have succeeded with this; the Metro UI makes it very easy to jump in and out of different programs (although there is no multitasking, only tombstoning) and perform common tasks very quickly. For instance, photos can be taken and uploaded to Facebook in a matter of seconds, while a search and browse of the marketplace can lead to an application being downloaded and installed within half a minute.

The Windows Phone 7 People hub

Windows Phone 7 Hubs

One of the ways in which Windows Phone 7 succeeds here is with the use of hubs. These are basically collections of data – for instance the music and video hub provides access to MP3s that you have synced from your PC – and provide quick access to regularly used services.

The People Hub in particular is very useful, and if you’re socially inclined you might make more use of this than any other. With this hub you can take advantage of several online services, manage yo0ur contacts and keep tabs on theirs social activity with links to Facebook and Windows Live.

However this raises an important question – which is best, the Windows Phone 7 Facebook app or the People Hub? Is there a reason for having both installed?

Windows Phone 7 Facebook App

There is a particularly good reason for having the Facebook app installed; it allows you to segment your social life away from the People Hub. This might not be to everyone’s preference, but could prove useful if you are using Windows Phone 7 for work purposes but still want access to Facebook.

The People hub displays Facebook, Google and Windows Live contacts when you first add these accounts in Settings > Email & Accounts. Once added, these accounts sync contact information, profile pictures and status updates with the People Hub, although this can be prevented by removing your social networking accounts from the phone. Alternatively in the case of Facebook (the service that is likely to have the largest impact on the People Hub) you can use Settings > Applications > People > Only add Facebook information to existing contacts to limit the number of Facebook contacts and as a result the number of updates that are received.

Overall, the People Hub is for interacting with contacts – you can view the full list of All contacts, see their statuses in What’s New, and view your Recent contacts (the ones you might have called or texted lately.)

In contrast, the Facebook app for Windows Phone 7 (certainly the best Facebook mobile app I have seen in terms of features and UI integration) offers more of what you would consider the standard Facebook features, including the news feed, messages, friend requests, full access to profiles, etc.

As such, the two applications can sit side by side, the People Hub providing a brief overview of what is going on with your contacts and Facebook offering the full-featured mobile experience when required.

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