There are more than 500 new features coming to Microsoft’s mobile platform Windows Phone before the end of 2011, and all of the current (and future) owners of a Windows Phone-based device will be getting the update as soon as it’s made available for their carrier and device. With 500 new features coming down the pipe, there’s plenty to be excited about, especially for anyone who’s already eager to get their hands on the major update. One of the bigger bullet points is Threads, and Microsoft is hoping it will improve the way you communicate with everyone you know right from your phone.
The concept of integrated messaging with different platforms isn’t new or even revolutionary at this point. Other mobile platforms already allow it, such as HP’s webOS which offers Google Chat and text messaging from the main messaging application. (And if you’ve unlocked developer mode on the device, you can even include Facebook Chat in the standard application, too.) And for almost as long as smartphones have been around, and especially since the major adoption of applications, there’s always been ways to communicate with people other than text or voice messages.
The most common methodology would be through instant messaging applications, which offer a user a multitude of different services to access and communicate through. Some of the most popular applications provide easy access to services like Google Talk and Facebook Chat, along with services like AOL Instant Messenger or Windows Live Messenger. But, these services are access through a third-party application, and therefore can be a hassle to use if you’re trying to have a conversation from one service to another or from one service to someone’s device.
The hope is that through Threads, Microsoft can make all of that easier for you by making it so you can access some of these services right from your Messaging Hub, and keep the conversation going no matter where these people are or what service they are using. As of right now, the new Threads feature will have access to Windows Live Messenger and Facebook Chat, along with the standard text messaging. You’ll be able to start a conversation on Windows Live Messenger or Facebook Chat, and then keep it going seamlessly into a text message without missing a beat.
But will you actually use it? Communicating from your device is obviously important, and having more ways to easily message your friends and acquaintances, without having to open up a third party application seems like a dream come true. Especially with a service like Facebook Chat baked right into the OS. But, switching from one service to another, when it would be just as easy to start, and maintain the conversation in, say, a text message makes it seem like these other services just won’t be used. Having access to them is one thing, but seeing any utilization over time is something entirely different.
I think it’s going to come down to how often individual users actually use these other features. Is it something that they’ve turned on in a third-party application out of habit, but something they don’t actually use on a regular basis? Or is something like Facebook Chat, or even Windows Live Messenger an integral part of their communication habits? If you’re part of the latter, then knowing that your presence is represented in real-time to all of your friends using those aforementioned services must seem like a feature you can’t pass up. But, if you’re someone who doesn’t use these things often, then I don’t imagine Threads will be a feature you pay much attention to. Unless, of course, after one use you fall head over heels in love with it and never turn back.
What do you think of Mango’s Threads features? Is Microsoft on the right track here with making communication easier for the end user? Or are these features going to be passed up and ignored? Let me know in the comments below what you think.