Windows Phone Hubs Explained

March 2, 2011, By Christian Cawley

The new Windows Phone 7 mobile platform takes cellphones in a new direction, offering a fast, attractive and intuitive user interface (the Metro UI) that enables users to spend less time on their phone and more time in real life.

A case in point is the amount of time it takes to snap and upload a photo to Facebook (around 5 seconds via mobile internet) but the real speed occurs thanks to the organization of data on the phone rather than the speed of the processor and modem.

Windows Phone  7 Hubs Explained

Everything on Windows Phone 7 is split up into hubs, of which there are six, each available from the Start screen. Anything you could wish to use is available via these or the programs list, where additional functions and newly installed apps can be found (although some apps integrate with the hubs).

Let’s take a look at each of the Windows Phone 7 Hubs.

People Hub

The People Hub is where your mobile contacts are stored. These can either be added from a SIM card, imported from your Windows Live account or they can be added from Facebook, which is integrated into the hub.

This means that you can update your Facebook status and check those of others while browsing for a phone number or email address, and this integration has proved both powerful and popular – future updates to Windows Phone 7 will feature Twitter integration in the People Hub.

Music & Video Hub

If you’re a fan of music and plan to use your Windows Phone as a mobile jukebox, the Music & Video Hub offers access to MP3s synced from your PC as well as videos. Some Windows Phone handsets feature a kickstand which allows you to watch movies in landscape format with your hands free – other devices require you to simply keep hold of the device.

Also available in the hub is access to podcasts, FM band radio (which requires your phone’s headset to be connected to act as an antenna) and any music you might have purchased through Zune. Apps like YouTube and Last.fm are also accessible here.

Games Hub

One of the main draws of Windows Phone 7 is the integration with Xbox LIVE, something that takes place via the Games Hub (although integration can be disabled via Settings > Applications > Games).

In addition to Xbox LIVE titles, however, the Games Hub also provides access to other titles, gaming apps from indie developers and so forth. While apps downloaded and installed from the Marketplace can be accessed via the Programs screen, games can only be launched from the Games Hub.

Pictures Hub

One of the most popular activities for many mobile owners after making phonecalls is the ability to snap and share photographs, and this is possible in Windows Phone 7 via the Pictures Hub. Featuring access to all of the images you have stored on your phone as well as those shared by your friends in Facebook, the Pictures Hub offers functions to set new lock screen images as well as offering sharing options via SMS, email and Facebook.

Office Hub

Windows Phone users keen to catch up on word processing and spreadsheet tasks – not to mention editing presentations – will be able to do this and more with the Microsoft Office Mobile Hub, which offers mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, as well as SharePoint integration for corporate users.

Documents created here will be available to be shared by email and with the upcoming NoDo update they can be synced directly to a Windows Live SkyDrive account (functionality that exists currently for OneNote only).

The Windows Phone Marketplace

Finally, but perhaps most crucially, is the Marketplace Hub, where Windows Phone 7 apps and games can be downloaded.

While only a few were available at launch, the Marketplace is already approaching 10,000 apps (amassing roughly 500 apps per week) and there are many impressive titles available here, from the popular Kindle reader app from Amazon to the social networking tools of Facebook and Twitter and many games.

This modular setup makes Windows Phone an easy to use mobile operating system, one that offers more than endless screens of application icons and widgets.

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