Scott Hanselman

Why isn't People-Centric UI Design taking off?

January 27, 2014 Comment on this post [86] Posted in Musings
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NOTE: This post is just speculation and brainstorming. I'm not a UX expert by any means, although I have worked in UI testing labs, run A/B tests, yada yada yada. I dabble. Also, I work for Microsoft, but on the Web and in Open Source. I use an iPhone. Those facts don't affect my ramblings here.

Screenshot from my Windows 3.1 Virtual MachineiPhone screenshot from Flickr User philozopher used under CC

I'm just a little disappointed that 30 years later (longer of course, if you consider Xerox Alto and before, but you get the idea) and we're still all looking at grids of icons. But not just icons, icons are great. It's that the icons still represent applications. Even on my iPhone or iPad I can't have an icon that represents a document. The closest I can get is to add a URL from Mobile Safari.

After Windows 3.1, Microsoft made a big deal about trying to say that Windows was a "document-centric operating system." OS/2 Warp did similarly, except object-centric, which was rather too meta for the average business user. Bear with me here, this is old news, but it was a big deal while we were living it. They kept pushing it up through Windows 98.

This document-centric approach is reflected in a number of Windows 98 features. For example, you can place new blank documents on the Desktop or in any folder window. You can access documents via the Documents menu on the Start menu. You can click a file icon and have its associated application open it, and you can define actions to be taken on a file and display those actions as options in the context menu

Today on the desktop we take all this for granted. Ubuntu, OS X, Windows all know (for the most part) how a document was created and let us open documents in associated programs. iOS is starting to get similar document-centric abilities, although it appears Open In is limited to 10 apps.

In Windows Phone and Windows 8+ I can pin People to the Start Screen. It's a killer feature that no one talks about. In fact, Nokia recently tweeted a screenshot of a 1080p Windows Phone (I've been testing the this last month myself) and I think they made a mistake here. Rather than pinning People, Faces, Groups, Friends, Family, Co-Workers, etc, they shrunk down a bunch of ordinarily good looking icons to their most unflattering to see how many they could fit on the screen.

(Plus they have 19 Updates pending, which I just find annoying.)

Here's mine next to theirs, just to contrast. Now, far be it from me to tell someone how to personalize their phone, I'm just trying to show that it doesn't have to be cartoonish.

What I'm really interested in is why do we, as humans, find App Centric interfaces more intuitive than People Centric ones?

Be5xQ4aCMAABrmy wp_ss_20140127_0006

The "story" around People Centric is that you don't think "go to twitter and tweet my friend" or "go to Skype and call my friend," instead you click a picture of your friend and then contact them in any possible way using any enlisted app from there.

For example, if I search my Windows machine for "Scott Guthrie" I get this (Scott is lousy about keeping his pictures up to date.)


You can see from here I can Email, Call, Facebook, Skype (if he had Skype), or get a map to his house. All his actual accounts, Twitter, Facebook, etc are linked into one Scott Guthrie Person.

Screenshot (56)

It works great on the phone, where I'm more likely to do more than just email. Note at the bottom there's a chain with a number showing that my wife has 6 accounts (Google, Hotmail, Facebook, Skype, etc) that are all linked into one Contact.


Folks that use Windows Phone mostly know about these features, and the hardcore users I know pin people to Start. On the desktop, though, I never see this. I wonder why. I am surprised that in a people focused world of social networks that elevating our friends, family and loved ones to be at least peers with notepad.exe would have happened by now.

What do you think, Dear Reader? Have you given this some thought in your interfaces?

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 27, 2014 23:43
It's possible that people centric UIs have not taken off because as human being we are action oriented. We WANT to do something. You used the example of "go to twitter and tweet my friend" but this might not be the right way to phrase that thought. Instead I would phrase it like "I want to tweet Scott". Note that the app has taken the place of the verb. It is the action that I want to accomplish. If the phone was people centric then you might phrase it as follows: "I want Scott Tweet At." (sorry the closest thing I can conjure up). It is very unnatural. The same thing might be happening subconsciously and that is why people centric UIs are rejected. Thinking of apps as actions makes it much more natural.

P.S. I reserve the right to be wrong :P
January 27, 2014 23:44
Pssst. It is a worldwide conspiracy by us non-people-centric programmers to get regular folks to fit the mould we made for them. They are beginning to think in icons.

On a more serious note: one thing I have noticed is that once someone has "got their head around" one way of thinking (Windows, iOS) they are extremely upset if you ask them to change, even if it is more "people-centric" as you show with Windows Phone. I know this is not the same example, but my mother-in-law went irate when she was confronted with Win8. Although her old PC was all but dead, she wouldn't use the new one. So part of the answer to your question is also: we don't want to upset the existing customer base.
January 27, 2014 23:44
I think this is a great idea, but it requires a big investment in metadata, interconnectivity, and extensibility that's hard to integrate with an existing shell or system. Not only that, you have people like me who are very workflow centric. My phone and Outlook are my portal to people, and the rest of the time I'm powering through VS, IE, and oodles of code and coding utilities. With that, having people pinned to my start screen is useless. To each their own though.
January 27, 2014 23:45
Android does this. I can put a contact on the home screen, touch their face, and up comes a pop-up window with the varying ways of contacting them that are in their contact entry -- e-mail, phone, etc.
January 27, 2014 23:47
Activity or event comes first, then related people are engaged to participate.
January 27, 2014 23:50
People centric cannot be applied to all, but is a great way to enable the user.
Based on app action(if the action is person centric or generic) the design should be approached. Like for example

- twitter is primarily used for casing an opinion but rarely for contacting\messaging a person. So, here the obvious actionable item is do inside twitter than go from person>twitter

- Grey area in between is like Whatsapp etc which are used to communicate with group of friends usually(app function precedes) So a person centric is a add-on good to have

- SMS can be person centric as people want to send a message to person (for the most part) then go to SMS app and start typing.

I am no UX person too and what I said above might be just crap
January 27, 2014 23:50
I thought this would be a killer app for me when I had a windows phone (iphone -> windows phone -> back to iphone). But at the end of the day, I simply didn't end up using it as much as I'd thought. Yes, I pinned my wife to the start screen as I communicate with her all the time. But aside from that, there's no one else that I communicate with often enough *with the supported channels* for it to make sense.

For example, when I had the windows phone, I communicated with my co-workers using google talk ... this wasn't supported by windows phone at the time (not sure if it is yet in any case). In my current company, we communicate via IRC ... another channel that the phone doesn't support. Part of the problem is that the system isn't open enough for a 3rd party to integrate at that level, so the only systems that get integrated are the ones that Microsoft had the resources to add.

The other problem is that keeping all this organized, and linking all the various profiles takes a lot of work. I go through cycles where I hyper-organize all of my social networks (fb lists, g+ circles, updating contact details, etc.), and then I always get burned out and it all goes to hell for a while. For the windows phone people-centric model to work, I'd have to stay on top of this organization, or else it gets messy.

I don't know, these are just some random thoughts from me ... I'm sure it won't apply to everyone :)
January 27, 2014 23:53
I really like Windows Phone's interface with people. I can text or switch to Facebook messaging in the same conversation with a person. I'm sure it is weird for them if they don't have a Windows Phone, but it makes it easy for me. I wish Skype and other IMs would be able to connect to the same built-in "texting".

I think people have just been conditioned to be "app centric". When I'm using my phone, it really is nice to be people centric. I think I'll add some more people tiles to my home screen and think more about using them first rather than going to apps first.
January 28, 2014 0:23
This really resonates with me. Modern experiences feel like a step backwards in some ways to me by creating a bunch of "apps" or "silos" that can barely talk to each other. I'd love to see a "Share with John" instead of a "Share on Twitter". I think we really need to take a step in this direction.
January 28, 2014 0:35
To put it another way, I think it could be really cool if UIs were structured around the who, what, when, where, and why and not the "how". To me the app is the "how". Its the tool or service that provides the functionality.
January 28, 2014 0:45
I think in theory this sounds interesting, but in practice it becomes a lot less user-friendly. Sometimes I don't want to tweet at anybody, or read a single person's tweets, most of the time I just want to read everyone's tweets and interact with the ones I find interesting. The same goes for other social networks or other activities. I think it would be tiresome to constantly switch between people. That's not to say it wouldn't be nice to reach someone's twitter from their name/face, but that's what contacts/address book apps are for.
January 28, 2014 0:46
People-Centric is is just one small usecase - which i only need very rarely. I want to go to facebook to Check News, and Not to contact someone in first place. Same goes for twitter.
And - relating to the "check News" usecase: i even would Not want a News app which collects all News from all the tons of sources (FB, Twitter, pinterest, vine, youtube, my favorite News pages), since this would clutter the inbox. All these different channels have different usecases, so I Don't want to mix them up.

Sorry for my bad English, I'm German...(and auto-correction goes mad)
January 28, 2014 0:51
I think a people-oriented interface is great for a phone, which is, at it's core, a communication device. Coincidentally, the "KIN" phones did a great job of that.

I think document-oriented probably still makes more sense for desktop computers, since generally the things that desktops are good at (read: things that you can't do on a phone very well) involve working with complex documents that require a lot of information to be on screen at once.

Obviously, these two types of devices are converging, so it makes sense to be able to do either thing from both.

One thing I think the Metro UI (which, on the whole, I really like) is missing is a good file browser. I get that modern interfaces don't want you to think about the file system, and that's fine, but some way to browse my documents, even if it's through an abstracted, search-based, metadata "library" rather than a traditional filesystem, is often more natural than launching an application first and THEN trying to find the document you wanted to work with.

I get that you can browse your computer with the SkyDrive app, but that feels counter-intuitive, and it's about as rudimentary as it could be. I want something that's driven by metadata, with powerful sorting and filtering capabilities.

Obviously it's possible to still use the desktop file Explorer, which works great now, but I hope as the scale tips away from the traditional desktop towards the Metro UI in future versions of Windows, document-oriented interfaces aren't totally abandoned in favor of application-oriented ones.
January 28, 2014 0:51
I think the answer is in our own spoken langauge and it's littered in the code we write:

In other words we say, "I'm going to send a tweet to Ben."

You don't say, "With Ben I would like to communicate via Twitter."

This pans out into our coding:

We'd probably do this:

var twitter = new Twitter();
twitter.SendTweet("@benlesh", "Wut Up?");

We probably wouldn't do this:

var benlesh = People.Get("Ben Lesh");
var twitter = new Twitter();
benlesh.Communicate(twitter, "Wut Up?");

And from there it's only natural it would pan out into our application designs.

Frankly, it should just work both directions. And it usually does on modern smartphones.
January 28, 2014 0:57
For me there are a couple of things at play. First, there are a lot more people in my contacts than there are apps that I use to contact them. Combine that with the fact that apps that are about people have history and it's faster to enter the app and find the person than it is the other way around. In most cases, I find that the best way to communicate with a particular person has more to do with what we typically communicate than some generic ideal for the particular topic. With my boss - email, coworkers - Skype, wife - text message or phone so by picking the app first, I have effectively filtered things down immediately.

The other aspect for me is that for social media, as you've pointed out before, the point is generally to let it "wash over you". Most times, when I launch Twitter or Facebook, I want to see what's going on in the world, not what's going on with a particular person. My wife and family are exceptions and I love that I can pin them to the start screen on my Windows phone and see when things are happening in a more passive, but also more immediate way. That said, this deep interest is limited to a small group of people and I would find it very difficult to manage all my groups of people if that was the primary those apps worked.
January 28, 2014 0:57
I probably don't represent most folks, but as I actually wish operating systems and hardware were more idea-centric.

That is, a de-emphasis on whether I can faceTweetPlusIMCall a friend, but an emphasis on how quickly and effectively I can write down and take an idea in my head, or something that comes up during conversation before forgetting about it.

I attempt this on my personal phone by making a habit-calendar, some writing/drwaing apps, and health apps the easiest things to click.

January 28, 2014 1:12
Call me weird, but thanks to consistency across mobile phones, I think all my people live under "Phone" and expect basically, that whenever I see a person in recent calls, SMS/Hangouts/iMessage or email, that I'd be able to perform other actions with that person.

But frankly, I'm much more interested in relevance to me rather than "people in general" -- I'm selfish that way.

So I visit Email to see what people have recently said: an example of this would be -- note the people are organized by Date, and that frankly, what they have to say matters as much as who they are to me :)
January 28, 2014 1:16
I'd also point out that most apps understand their own files better, and so can present them more intuitively. By comparison, the windows file explorer has been famous about not previewing the simple things -- e.g. PDFs -- without an extension.

Similarly, apps construct the activities we do with people, and so are the best places to find people relevant to us. By comparison, to start with the people and see all activities or relevant files would be fantastic, but much harder to achieve without better APIs.

Frankly, we'll see it on iOS first, because they'll need to add alternative designs within the next 10 years, probably through apps, search or notifications (relevancy) first.
January 28, 2014 1:22
people-oriented interface is good idea for non technical/professional people , I think most teenagers and young people who use tablets/phones for communication with family and friends will like the idea very much , these generations have no idea what are documents or programs are all what they care is communication and installing app(which is all what they know about program ) .
January 28, 2014 1:25
It's called purpose based design. Everything on a interface represents a purpose (people, apps, documents, shortcuts, scripts). They all should be equally representative.

I designed an operating system interface just to showcase this concept. Just take a look at:
January 28, 2014 1:29
Communicating with people is hardly the sole purpose for most computing devices. Even smartphones. Certainly not desktop PCs. We expect our phones to be a lot more than a contact list -- even a fancy contact list that can communicate in several ways.

We want to organize and consume media, write, create art, play games, etc....

User interfaces are app-centric because that's the way our computing environments evolve -- application by application. We acquire applications to do tasks. When we want to perform a task, we open the appropriate application.

Seems pretty intuitive to me.

January 28, 2014 1:37
I think people are task oriented. The icons are the phone represent things they want to do ("Update Facebook status", "View Twitter Feed", "Call My Wife", etc.) Instead of seeing a person then all the ways to contact them, they decided how to contact them -- call, text, etc, -- and then find the app for calling or texting, etc.
January 28, 2014 1:43
Android does this (as a few people have mentioned), but the Android people app is essentially broken IMO in that it doesn't support instant messengers.

If I bring up a contact and they have a Hangouts account in their contact info, there is no button to start/join an IM session with them. I can text, email, call, view LinkedIn, their G+ profile, or a map to their house. If I go into the actual contact definition I can see all of the (far too numerous) IM accounts associated with the contact, but they are not actionable in stock Android (I can't speak for Samsung or HTC stuff).

It's probably one of the most aggravating things about Android - the inability to be truly people-centric.
January 28, 2014 1:56
I just got a Nexus 5 and I noticed that the latest verison of Android no longer lets you save action-specific shortcuts to the home screen. For example, I used to have dedicated icons to call and text my wife. Now you have to consolidate them to a single icon that launches her contact and an extra tap is needed to call or text. Might be a nit-pick but to me me this was the type of "user-centricity" that really made things easier.

January 28, 2014 1:58
Windows Phone gets a lot right in terms of the convergence of services, but one thing I think it gets wrong is it's basic premise that the phone should be where this convergence takes place. The platform was a restart, a place where Microsoft could have taken some risks and put this service convergence in the cloud.

One of the benefits that was part of Live Mesh was inter-app comms and sync in the cloud. Why can't my desktop and web based software be just as people centric as the phone software? Because none of that convergence syncs.
January 28, 2014 1:58
IMV there are 2 problems working against adoption of people-centric navigation...

1) You pointed this one out yourself in your screenshot example. Microsoft/Nokia themselves don't promote this differentiation as they should. I'm struck by how many people I meet on a constant basis that have never seen a windows phone up close so, it's really important for the advertising to show up what makes Microsoft's way of thinking unique and dare I say better. It's left up to the 3 of us that actually own Windows Phones to talk up and show off these capabilities.

As an owner myself I actually use the features. I pin deep-links every chance I get. I have a tile for my family and individual friends that I communicate with often, as well as things like location specific weather or times(I have family overseas that I call). So, I pin things based on people I communicate with. My email accounts are grouped by category (work vs play), all people-centric concerns. The problem is in how Microsoft promotes the features and then how they support third-party integration. Heck even implementation of the design ideas are lack luster on the first-party end.

Someone mentioned the lack of support for Google chat in the messaging client. We all know the problems between G and MS, but how about WhatsApp which has a client app available or really any of the other third-party chat apps. How easy is it to hook in to those integrated features. Why can't I contact a person using WhatsApp, but via the their People tile? Microsoft needs to support a more open integration structure to these features in order for folks to find them more useful. btw, I'm fully aware that WhatsApp allows pinning of individuals to the home screen, but I'm just using them as an example to illustrate. I should add that I really hate a sea of tiles. If I could group things into hubs ala Music+Video, Photo, Messaging, etc. It would make my life so much easier. That's why I like the idea of the People hub where I don't think in terms of which app someone is using, but just in terms of the person themselves and the fact that I want to contact them or interact with content they've created as is the case with the Photos or People hubs. I'd like to see more development from Microsoft that emphasizes this idea. For example, why not allow me to see online status for friends via their People tile. Are they on facebook chat or skype. I'd like to know before I contact them. Why not allow me to see what music or videos someone has watched on Netflix, Hulu Plus, but via their People tile or even the Music+Video hub. The integration ideas are endless, but IMV Microsoft isn't seeing them.

2) The second reason things haven't taken off is simple. People buck change. We're programmed over many years to think in terms of apps. Some of us can adapt quicker than others, the rest simply don't want to give it a chance.

I've converted at least a dozen people over to WP so, I know it's doable, but Microsoft needs to make a greater effort to truly sell these capabilities. btw, People-centric navigation is what sells them instantly. I compare and contrast directly with whatever they're using (iphone or android) and they usually see how much easier things are to do on WP.

The lack of apps is usually what kills the deal for folks, but for those who don't care about that or the ones who can find everything they need on WP, it's usually no contest. The idea is solid, Microsoft just needs to further build on it and then promote the hell out of those unique features.
January 28, 2014 2:05
You're right! I love that my contacts are contacted in the people views on my WindowsPhone and yet I don't use that on Windows 8.1. What I'd like is sort of what Outlook 2013 does at the bottom of an e-mail from someone, only I'd like to turn it over. That is, create an icon for my connections (all of them) with any individual and a way to have that easily present all history that I have with them -- in mail folders, photo collections, etc.

It would not be an exclusive way to find that material, just a great aggregated view that not all that different from the aggregations being made available elsewhere.
January 28, 2014 2:05
Hmm, I meant "contacts are consolidated in the people views."
January 28, 2014 2:13
I've written about it after I read Tantek's thoughts, although it was on a more practical ground. Tantek wanted to do it via the IndieWeb and peoples homepages, which would be nice but we're not there yet in my opinion.

My thought were more about the address book, it already syncs between all devices, has icons of people and all their metadata, they just should be designed better and have the ability to tweet/email/jabber/whatsapp, etc. directly from them, not like now where you can't even start a jabber conversation from the address book.
January 28, 2014 2:14
I completely agree with Khalid, but I would like to add that we developers use to think too much about questions like these. "Why isn't People-Centric UI Design taking off?". Sometimes we have to accept the truth, transform that question into an affirmation and say "People-Centric UI Design does not take off" and go on with our lives.
January 28, 2014 2:27
As Sergio said, "People Centric" is a rare and very specific use case.

Add to that:
(a) Facebook, Twitter etc are "pull" notifications (unlike mail, sms and phone which is "push").

(b) Facebook, Twitter etc have different contexts and cultures associated to them. When I decide to contact a person, I have a rather clear idea of what sort of communication I would like to have, and a clear idea of what communication channel is fitting, and I verbalize it "I'm going to whatsapp my g/f, I'm going to facebook message my more distant friend". So opening a "People Hub" is really superfluous extra step.

(c) Most "People Hub" type applications are very limiting, since they are required to support X different platforms transparently, they present a very minimal UI which is reduced to the least common denominator of all apps. If I wanna send a specific application unique emoticon, I'm already limited.

January 28, 2014 2:47
I agree with the people first approach. I find myself often accidentally typing someones name in to my address bar when I intended to go to facebook to send them a message. But currently nothing I use integrates this approach.
January 28, 2014 3:05
Picking a few apps from that screenshot of your iPhone, you have: Newstand, iBooks, Reminders, Calendar, Flickr, Clock and chrome.

I'm not sure you can really apply the people centric paradigm for most of these apps. I had a Lumia 800 and I thought it was a brilliant phone. People centric makes sense when communicating with people. Android has already borrowed this feature with their contacts app allowing you to link all their online personalities together this way and they've borrowed it because it makes sense.

Communicating with people, however, is only one use case of the "pocket supercomputer" as you aptly put it. The majority of things you do on this super computer are probably "actions" as "Khalid Abuhakmeh" commented above.
January 28, 2014 3:06
Thank you for the great reminder, Scott! Even though most of my family isn’t using FB, Twitter & Co. much, I think it's a good idea to keep a picture of my wife on my Lumia’s screen (like in my wallet). Maybe the days are not too far when NOT having your spouse there will have real world consequences for our relationships … ;) Who knows, her interest in Smartphones might increase by this small change.
January 28, 2014 3:52
The "story" around People Centric is that you don't think "go to twitter and tweet my friend" or "go to Skype and call my friend,"

Yes. Yes, I do. I use Twitter or Tweetcaster for tweeting. I use Google hangouts for video calls. I use Chrome to view websites. Implementation details not only matter, they matter a great deal.
January 28, 2014 3:55
In my case, it's pretty simple.

- I have a dozen or so "apps" that interact with people
- I have hundreds or thousands of people within those apps


- I prefer to have a smaller number of icons
- and it's simpler for me to think "email scott" or "skype bob"

January 28, 2014 4:20
For me it has been just been poor execution on the part of Windows Phone. Lets say I want to post a picture on a friend's Facebook wall. If I select their contact, it will use the OS's integrated Facebook support, and it will only let me post text.

The OS will always be behind in feature parity with what social networks are offering. The mistake is integrating it into the OS. The correct thing is for it to take me into the Facebook app to write the post where I can use the latest-and-greatest features. Of course, this wasn't an option a originally when there was no Facebook app. I'm sure they'll fix it soon.

Maybe I am using the OS incorrectly, but I have a similar problem with navigation. If I want to use Waze, but I go through the contact picker, it first takes me into the Maps application. From there I click directions, and it gets directions in the Maps applications. Then from there I can click Drive, and it will let me choose Waze. This is absurdly slow!

In both cases I am incentivized to skip the people picker because it isn't doing what I want or not doing what I want efficiently (few touches).
January 28, 2014 4:55
This post describes the selling point of Windows Phone 8 (and even it's predecessor). I don't want to open an app to respond to Facebook or Twitter. I just want to respond, and I want the phone to just do the right thing. I wish integration was tighter with more objects than People, including pictures and videos.

This is why I continue to choose Windows Phone over an app centric OS. Now there's no question Windows Phone enables object centric thinking but it is a little confused about it's purpose because developers can force their users to be app centric. And of course, it's not in a developer's interest to enable you to NOT look at their ads and the OS has to enable even more than it does now. But where the integration is tight, it is just so much easier.
January 28, 2014 4:55
The best way to discover why people don't use People Centred UI is to go test it with non tech people and observe what they do and why they do it. Never assume this has been done.

Debating this in an echo chamber will not help at all or give you the real reason or issues around PCUI.

However considered the history of computing and UI, we have also trained people to use interfaces based on actions, not outcomes.

January 28, 2014 5:36
I think the answer could have to do with the rows of icons you see. Even on your "people-centric UI" samples, the icons for Facebook, Twitter, etc., are still there -- they're just secondary. In a hypothetical world where the transport mechanism didn't matter (like every sci-fi movie where they tap a name on their screen and instantly get connected via video chat), then sure, people-centric makes sense. There's no Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or email or phone in that world. But here, today, these services and interfaces exist, and are of primary importance. I don't want to flip my entire experience upside-down to try to pretend they don't.

It's like suggesting "This fast-food restaurant serves fish, and this 4-star sushi restaurant serves fish, and this pet store has fish, too, so let's put them all under the same roof for convenience". It's only convenient for the fish deliveryman. I never decide I need a fish without already knowing which of these I want, and likewise, I never need to contact a person without already knowing the most appropriate communications method. I'm not going to send an urgent message by postcard, or cat photos via LinkedIn.

It sounds like an interesting idea in the abstract, but on a practical level, it's never a bottleneck for me, and (because desktop environments have deep history and habits) I don't really want to turn my environment upside-down for something that was never a real problem to begin with.
January 28, 2014 5:52
I don't have an answer for you, but it is the way I like, and why I prefer Windows 8.x and Windows Phone to anything else. The Pictures hub in WP is the perfect example. I want to show you some pictures, I don't remember if I uploaded them to Facebook, Skydiver (sorry, OneDrive) or anywhere else. All I know is that they are in the Pictures hub. This is how I want my experiences to be.

I dream about the day where I can have my Dropbox, Skydrive, Bitcasa, etc. Integrated in a Documents hub. Hopefully, it will also manage my storage for me, so I don't have to care where that document is.

I am surprised people don't dig this; especially, normal people that don't need to micro-manage every setting in their devices. Such a time waster!

Anyway, it makes me sad that the only argument against WP is the lack of apps when most of the time there is access to the same service or an app is not even required. Windows 8 is a bit different because I haven't seen any app or integrated service worth a dime; although, I am still hopeful.

On that note, I would love a "metro" version of Windows Live Writer, which I don't think it is in the works, but maybe you can move some of your Microsoft contacts... ;)
January 28, 2014 6:50
I pin people to start on my phone, because no phone is good at multitasking, and you start every little action basically from scratch. You are mostly proactive on the phone: you're the one initiating the conversation, or it's just one button to touch, so you might as well go for the person rather than how to reach them. Now on the desktop, it's different, I have Skype, Facebook, gmail permanently open, and I receive permanent, multitask feeds from all my contacts. Is there a word for the opposite of broadcast, something like broadreceive? Because that's exactly what we're doing on the desktop that we can't do on the phone (although Windows Phone's Me/Notifications feature comes pretty close), and that justifies different entry points. On the desktop, going for the person means going out of your way, whereas you already have Skype or whatever already open. Why bother? Shortest paths are just different. I think.
January 28, 2014 7:07
In my mixed world of development and UX I find that when people intend to carry out an action against a group of people they want to choose the people first then the action.

If they intend an action for only one person they want to choose the action first, then the person.

This seems to be because people lean towards performing actions in the order of perceived complexity. We want to do the hardest part first, so we don't waste our efforts if we fail. People would rather fail early, as opposed to half way through.

Intuitive means human-natural, so don't be surprised that people do something that feels 'less intuitive', because nothing about computer interfaces is human-natural (except maybe the tap, click, and swipe touch gestures).

Everything is learned behavior, thus the level of abstraction for people is low enough that adding a layer like 'people first' ends up being rather meaningless from a usability standpoint. At least in my experience and testing.
January 28, 2014 7:07
The biggest obstacle here is you are trying to overcome decades of brain training.

This people centric option will only make sense when the following sentences seem normal:

I want to Joe email!
I'm gonna Fred Skype!
I should Blair that file email!
I'll just Kyle message!

None of these follow the logical structure of English that we expect.

It's the exact same reason why when we want to create a new document we don't create an empty document in the file system and then launch Word... we open Word first then choose the action to create a document.

As a result I suspect this people centric UI option will simply never take off.
January 28, 2014 7:35
"If I wanted to take a photo, what person would I click on?"

The capabilities of our devices extend to manipulating sensors and data as much as people. The problem with WP8 in retrospect, is that you, by necessity, had to learn *both* people and app centric UI paradigms.
January 28, 2014 8:28
I do have my wife pinned on the Start screen of my WP. Also two groups: Close Friends and Family. And leave all the rest (387 in total) in the Contacts. It is not a good idea to pin all of them on the Start screen. Is it?
January 28, 2014 10:00
I am a true believer that most people today desire the creation of more interfaces or products that are focused on us, the people. I saw it in my grandmother, my aunt, my cousins, every coworker (you name it). Each one has a good explanation (some of the really great ideas) of how this could or should be achieved. But in these days technology is moving at a very fast pace. Social media has heavily contribute to created this kind of pseudo connexion that we beleive we have through their interfaces that allows us to reach others more easily. In my opinion there is a big problem that needs to be worked resourcefully; and it is how we counteract the "noise" in all this flow of information produced by this connection between people. "Noise" as for example, how nimbly do I can stop receiving annoying notifications from games, how nimbly i can mute the philosophical status of my friends, how I can only receive the news that really interest to me into my newsfeed. Until the systems can help us to "fix" this through great UI design, we will not going to see an emergence or evolution of people-centered systems (kudos to Metro). Why? Because app centric systems give us these "kind of control" that we are looking for. Every app is a little universe that we can control. Until UX does not allow to achieve this flawlessly, people we be stuck to app-centric UIs.
January 28, 2014 11:58
I feel like I should say something really insightful here that is just some knee-jerk opinion - then everyone will know how smart I am.
January 28, 2014 12:09
You know, Metro with live tiles is probably the most revolutionary new interface since the Mac.

But Microsoft has introduced and marketed it like a box of crayons to consumers (and developers). That's it's branding. Hard/Expensive to change what's in our brains now.

With an interface that RADICAL, you have SHOW people how to experience it - people-centric, task-centric, workflows, use cases etc.

But the centerpiece of branding is "touch a colorful tile instead of an app icon." And that's all that sticks. Pathetic execution.

Expect Apple and Google to chip away at the benefits that Metro and live tiles bring. They can execute people-centric faster and better, if the market wants it. (Just like Microsoft hijacked Mac's new interface with something called "Windows.")

January 28, 2014 16:14
After getting my first smartphone (win8), I was looked around for ways to do quick dial, I found out that the only way to do that is by having people pinned as tiles.
Was disappointed initially since it was not as easy as keeping a number pressed on non-touchscreen (keyful!) phones.

But now I am used to it, and find it helpful to do all stuff like text/call etc. from one place, and I don’t have to remember which number key maps to which contact!.
Of course it is still faster and fewer key presses to quick dial on my old phone.

Personally I want two problems resolved on WP8
1. How to clear the 'Other' storage (Had to do factory reset to solve it :( )
2. WhatsApp hanging issues with 512MB RAM.

And someone closed many of such relevant issues pertaining to WP8 on, I hope its reopened...
January 28, 2014 17:21
Perhaps the issue is that we are looking at apps in an abstract sense instead of considering them what they truly are - tools. When I want to go dig a hole in the ground, I don't go into my garage and look for a hole digger. I look for a shovel because I know that it's the best tool to get the job done that I want to do. Likewise, when I want to video chat with a family member, I open up Skype because I know that the audio quality is unmatched. Most of what I do on my phone involves first grabbing the right tool, then using it to perform the desired action. It's natural.
January 28, 2014 18:19
So dead on about the people feature being highly under-represented in the Windows Phone. My topmost left icon is my wife pinned to my start screen. I can see the next embarrassing picture she posts of me on facebook, or get notified from the home screen when I have a new text or email from her. I can also click on her tile and text or call her.

I've also got myself pinned to my home screen, because it gives me my FB notifications in a much better form factor than the FB app. Occasionally, if I have a friend who's going through something tough, I'll pin them to my home screen, too, to keep an eye on them.

One thing I notice, though, is I'm connected to a lot of people through 1 social channel + contact info. There are very few people I follow on FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, and on a blog who actually use all those channels. That may be part of the problem with adoption: having a pin for a person you only connect to on FB isn't much of a shortcut.

January 28, 2014 18:45
Yep. Came to say what Pete Lombardo said, so I'll second him with this:

I consider an app a tool, and my thought process is about the tool for the job at hand. Much the same as I'd do with a PC, now that I think about it.

I think it basically comes down to humans being task-oriented, not people-oriented.
January 28, 2014 19:15
I think the reason operating systems stick with the app-centric approach, and that users seem okay with it, is that the app is the most familiar "unit of user interaction". If I want to skype with you, likely I'll be thinking more about skype, what kind of network connection I have, if I think you're near a device that supports skype, if I think you're willing to sit down to a skype call, if I am happy or sad that MS bought skype, if I think a third party will be listening or watching to our skype call, if I like the latest changes to the skype user interface or not, etc. In other words I'll be fumbling with skype, moreso than the callee. When I pick up the phone to communicate with you, it's the device and technology and app I am thinking about, not you. It takes a nanosecond to think "I need to call my mom". It takes seconds (1000s of times longer) to actually get her on the chat/home phone/skype/facetime/mobile phone/etc.

If you want to make the UX person-centric, cut out the above concerns. The only question that's really needed for me, the initiator of the conversation, to answer is "do I want synchronous or asynchronous communication?" Do I want to send a message, or have a conversation. That's it. Everything else can be pre-determined with a little bit of data about the person. What accounts they have (chat, email, skype, facetime, etc.) and what their circumstances are (driving, busy, bored, etc.)

I really wish we all just had a public key that all of the above information was hidden behind. If I want to send Susie a message (asynchronous communication) and her key is Susie227 I should just be able to tell my phone that little bit of information (asynchronous, Susie, the end). My phone can ping an intermediary service that knows all of Susie's accounts, where she is, what her availability is, etc. My phone can handshake and broker a deal on which technology to use, given the network connectivity on my end, and other data already available. I never need to know any of it. Eventually an app opens up on my device. Further, if I can accept a generic data model that is common across apps (synch or asynch, plain text or rich text or audio or video or etc) then the device could let me write the message while it brokers how to send it. Anyway, how the message actually gets sent is of no concern to me. All I care about is that it's sent in a way that's appropriate to Susie's circumstances.
January 28, 2014 20:25
To the handful of commenters who point to language as a barrier (e.g. Steve The biggest obstacle here is you are trying to overcome decades of brain training. This people centric option will only make sense when the following sentences seem normal: "I want to Joe email!" or "I'm gonna Fred Skype!") I would point out that the structure of written and spoken language varies tremendously from culture to culture. And even if you speak English, if you're thinking about contacting your friend aren't you thinking about him or her first, and THEN deciding how to communicate? You might construct a sentence as "I want to e-mail Joe", but you probably thought about Joe first and then decided to email him. Now there are certainly times when you do truly act in a task specific manner (e.g. "I should check my email", "I want to post a status update"), but that is simply a separate and complementary use case.
January 28, 2014 20:27
The answer is simple my dear watson, after elimination of the obvious, you learn that people themselves are not people centric enough.
January 28, 2014 20:45
I think the basic idea is moving to a "data centric" paradigm, instead of "application centric" paradigm (which is the usual one). That's a common discussion, especially when someone is in college. In essence, is the same as Object oriented programming.

Wouldn't it be great to have a document/data and be able to do EVERYTHING with them? I can send it, I can write it, I can phone it, I can text it, I can tweet it, etc...

But that has a LOT of implementation options. You need an interface complex enough to allow almost any combination of data and applications. Does this data support the application X? That adds a lot of overhead on the data itself (or on the app, if the app has to determine whether the data is ok) The truth is that most of the documents out there are one of two options:
- They are highly specialised, tightly coupled with an app (a Word document)
- They are very flexible, though they may need some customisation to be efficient (a plain text file)

UNIX systems are based on the latter, but using pipelines, even if it's powerful, it's very difficult to automatise, so we have to apply 4 or 5 actions on the data to do exactly what we want. Most of the regular user usage of a computer resolve around the first kind of documents. Because it's easier (you're in Word context, so you are doing Word actions, you're on twitter context, so you're doing twitter actions, etc)

Probably for a phone, the possibility of doing "some" actions with a user centric way makes sense. But I'd say that's an exception, not something that can be generalised. I think is an interesting idea, but it's just very difficult to implement in a way that's not incredibly complex.
January 28, 2014 20:57
I think there are a few reasons people-centric UI hasn't "taken off", but before I get into that I have say I think the author makes a mistake by not acknowledging up front some of the obvious reasons and limitations, not providing some definition of what it means to "take off", and not clarifying that this is not an either/or approach. For key family and friends, or a few clearly defined groups it can be really nice. As for why it is not more popular:

1)Apple doesn't do it. I guarantee you if Apple had a Super Bowl commercial that showcased an icon for your best friend or spouse, with WP-like people-hub functionality the positive response would be HUGE. Of course Apple would do it in a really slick way, but the outpouring and immediate uptake would be massively disproportional.

2)It hasn't been fully advertised and promulgated by Google and Microsoft. They make the OS that allows (or doesn't allow) this type of integrated approach and it is up to them to show people the benefits. Individual app developers can participate but have no real incentive to push it.

3)As mentioned above, individual app developers can participate but have little incentive to push it. They make money by selling apps, ads or in-app purchases and want to control the user experience as much as possible. Unless or until WP8 or Android can provide the functional benefits of an integrated approach and still somehow communicate the individual apps' branding and provide value to the app developers, then there is limited value for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

4)Carriers control the update process. Baking this stuff into the OS means the integrated features always lag far behind the features available in the stand-alone app because MS and Google can't push out incremental OS updates as easily as they can push out app updates. Personally, I don't have an issue with feature lag as long as the key functions are there. (I do have a big problem with carriers blocking updates; but that is a separate story.)
January 28, 2014 21:43
you assume I use my computer to interact with people
January 28, 2014 21:52
That was probably the original intent of social networks, but it seems like anything people-centric inevitably gets bogged down with privacy concerns and advertisers jumping at the chance to get at all the people data and turning the whole experience into one giant ad involving my friends
January 28, 2014 22:29
I think the real point, is that it is up to the individual to decide what centric oriented UI it is that suites THEIR fancy based on the UI and screen real-estate.

I'd put a gun to my head if I had to use my dual 24" monitors like I do the UI on my cell phone. (PC=developer; Phone=direct talking/communication) This was the biggest issue with the acceptance of Windows 8 (miles and miles of little squares, unless you couldn't figure out how to show ALL applications, and then even if you did, there were still hundreds that were missing). This is same failure that the Office Ribbon menu suffered (miles and miles of eye-crossing, unorganized ribbon graphics...) At some point it simply becomes overload. (i.e. it's acceptable on a cell phone because there isn't the real estate to make sense of it all w/o scrolling, while on the desk-top side there's more than enough space to organize it in a hierarchy, just the way human beings organize/think about things without computers: work, family, friends, groups, etc..

So if I'm on my phone, I'm not worried about people-oriented actions, I'm worried about actions that do something like message and call history, address book, etc. (they organize/reduce and service). Because there simply isn't enough space on my cell phone to do much more (nor would I want to put hundreds of icons on my dual-monitor desktop either, especially at 6am, looking at hundreds of people I don't want to see :).

rob k

January 28, 2014 22:50
Hey, at least with Linux and Android you have the OPTION of changing your environment.

Not so with Windows, Windows Phone, OSX, or iOS.
January 29, 2014 0:25
The thing about 'I want to Joe email' is that we basically do think like that, as Chris Kez very well points out, but the sentence is missing some steps that make people centric more obvious. How about: 'I want to [tell] Joe [something... what can I contact him on...] email'.

Now consider using this as sequence for actions: Find the Joe contact, see if he is online on any of the services that you have connected to him with... Skype (nope)... Facebook chat (nope)... Whatsapp (nope)... etc (nope)... guess I'll just email it to him. Perhaps your goal was to email him but perhaps your goal was to contact him ASAP and email is a last resort. Loading the Skype app and checking if he's online there, then loading Facebook app and checking if he's online there, then finally falling back to your email app to dutifully search through your contacts and find Joe then you're able to start communicating.

Not talking about Windows Phone here, but some device where app devs can add their own hooks into contacts too. WP9 should totally be trotting that out in my opinion.

I like people centric.
January 29, 2014 2:51
You can do it with Android phone. You can pin people to desktop or start screen or whatever you want.
January 29, 2014 4:51
And even if you speak English, if you're thinking about contacting your friend aren't you thinking about him or her first, and THEN deciding how to communicate?

No. No, I'm not. Again: implementation details matter.
January 29, 2014 5:05
Hmmm.... I use it all the time and like it. Curious that I never thought about using it.
January 29, 2014 14:24
I want to use it, but I don't want to be forced exclusively to use it.

If I want to call Barry, 9 times out of ten I end up at the Phone interface, and I CAN'T GET TO BARRY FROM THAT INTERFACE UNLESS I'VE CALLED HIM BEFORE which is the most frustrating part about using a people centric phone which refuses to ALSO work the way you want it to.

I want the FLEXIBILITY of a ME-CENTRIC INTERFACE, not whatever the phone paradigm decides is best for me.

WHY is it better to find Barry in Contacts, rather than find Barry through a contact search from the Phone app, which provides the intent?

Sure, once I find Barry that way, maybe it's easier to do other things with him. But I just wanted to call him. I start with the call, and I'm penalized. I start with the person, and I'm penalized by having to get from the What's New page over past the groups into the Contact sorter, then I have to try to ignore what my brain is telling me was on the What's New page, then I try to remember who I was trying to do something with, then I have to use the contact sorter to find Barry, and the amount of text on the screen makes it a fairly oppressive task, and then finally maybe I've got Barry and I have to look at more words to work out what I'm doing.
January 29, 2014 23:24
Not attempting to troll here, but not sure why someone said Android borrowed this feature when Android having it has been around before Windows Phone. I'm sure there is an OS that predates it in this manner, but it was kind of implied that this was the case (Android borrowing from WinPhone).

Honestly, the voice activated interface is the one I'm most interested in, long term. And here's how it looks so far:

iOS (Siri) - pretty useless. Received a lot of praise initially, but the more they've tried to add, the more it has broken.

Android (Google Now) - has went the way of Siri, unfortunately, before I could say "Call Person on Mobile", now I pretty much end up doing a google search that is useless. The best thing the Google Now search I've seen, in working more often than not, is "Navigate to Location X" type queries.

WinPhone - I own a WP7 device (Lumia 800), so I can't really speak to this too much. However:

1) the fact that Microsoft has a developer facing API to integrate with the voice commands feature is a great touch.
2) Don't own a XBox One, but from being at a friend's house and seeing how the Kinect voice stuff works, I think in general, Microsoft has taken the right approach: baby steps. Google and Apple seem to have went with the "toss everything out there and we'll try and tune it as we go" approach whereas Microsoft appears to be taking a more calculated direction of "make it work, then push it out."

I kind of wish Google would go that route (opening up Google Now to apps and not degrading previous searches by defaulting to a google search each time. But I guess it pays the bills.) as operating system wise, I prefer Android, but that is definitely one interface I feel Microsoft has the big two beat on.

Which makes sense, you know. As Google and Apple have it now, it's conceptually like having a desktop application with a bunch of menu items that aren't implemented yet. What is the value in that?
January 30, 2014 2:50
People centric UI will take off, it is a good idea. But live tiles are just god awful ugly. They are a sensory overload of no elbow room cluttered mess. Someone needs to create a better implementation of it, and it will take off.
January 30, 2014 3:15
The app-centric approach is less cluttered. Typically there's only a handful of apps you routinely use to interact with people but there are potentially many people that you could interact with.
January 30, 2014 14:24
First the non-centric people statement is not true. I have an Android phone and I have the people I contact the most on my desktop.
The thing is that interacting with people represents maybe 5-10% of my activity with my phone. So that is normal that it does take all my desktop space.
Let's say I open my browser 10 times a day. There is no one except for my girlfriend on some days that I contact more than 10 times a day !!! And if I do it is because I am using a chat app (or SMS whatever) and therefore I use the notification feature to interact (and therefore not the people UI I have on my desktop)
January 30, 2014 15:01
Can someone tell me how to unlink contacts in 8.1? Two of my friends got linked automatically just because they have the same name and now I can't find where to undo that. I can only add more links to the contact... *sigh*
January 30, 2014 20:59
Evolution and experience have made our brains do this the hard way. As in; "If I want to dig my garden, first I get a spade from the shed." Whereas the easy (and correct when the tool is digital) way would be to try to do the task and expect the right tool to magically appear in my hands. Maybe the problem is that we're locked into an old thought process reinforced by inappropriate real world metaphors?
January 30, 2014 21:37
WARNING: I am not a MS/Google/Apple fan, they have many matches and I always cheer for the winner whether a leader or an underdog

If modern UI was from apple (not google) it would have taken off. MS has to fixed many things in WP to make modern UI sell-able.

Nevertheless, it is a great UI concept and I am a fan of this UI. With one glance, I can know what my family and friends are up to.

The difficult part is the fact that no one understands what we are saying until they do it. Even Nokia users don't get it. Every time I see a friend's nokia smart screen i look away. They are thinking like ios androaid and windown 3.1 (I like that analogy)

Modern UI is the beast. But would that convince people to make the switch to WP? I don't think so, especially :

-when they don't know what you are talking about! Until they not only buy but configure a WP8 correctly! Good luck with that.
-What about the relative expensive price of WP flagship devices compared to google?
-What about the lack of critical apps? (I know they covered 99%, but every person has a different 1% that they desperately need )
-What about the lack of widgets in the UI? like in android why not just swipe and get widgets? why this Look-At-Me-Only-UI?
- As a developer in windows 7, I would pay nothing to run code on my device, I can do that on android too, but in WP I have to pay and register etc. I am, sorry, was a .NET developer all my code runs on android. Android in developer friendly, WP not anymore. MS forgot about developers developers developers, so they went where people care.

In sum, modern UI is a great upside against many downsides. If nothing is changed, the idea will take off elsewhere and I think it will be on iOS, they were brave when they pushed their new UI on ios7( no way android will have this! Thanks to google's desperate tactics in the social space)
January 31, 2014 2:38
I have your wife and/or girlfriend pinned to my home-screen too... (Ouch - couldn't resist ;) )

- Having tight OS integration assumes and encourages further entrenchment of "privileged" services, which I'm not sure is a good thing
- Scott, as you work remotely and have tons of co-workers and layers of friends, this capability is probably more important to you than to many. I, on the other hand, have no friends, as is evident by my first sentence
- I also would much rather have a "workflow" or "action" based UI - a verby more than nouny - when I do something, it's usally in the context of a larger goal. IMHO the desktop needs to do much better here in workflow context management as well. (Do you remember the hDC product for Win3.x that let you manage multiple apps in the context of a doc ca.1990-91?)
- Properly implemented voice actions really solve most of the deep-linking issues and is more dynamic

January 31, 2014 19:39
@Per Erik Stendahl: To unlink two contacts, click on the contact, hit the "Link" button, tap on the profile you want to unlink, confirm it. Also if you add the two to Messenger/Skype, it will refuse to let you link them because they're separate people in your Messenger list.
January 31, 2014 22:13
Many of us IT professionals are centered on our PC as a tool. A tool to get work done for company x so hence forth its app concentric. When I am at home I avoid the PC like the plague UNLESS I need to get some work done and again its tool concentric.

So...there you have many comments I am thinking this has already been discussed.
February 01, 2014 0:55

The biggest obstacle here is you are trying to overcome decades of brain training.

This people centric option will only make sense when the following sentences seem normal:

I want to Joe email!
I'm gonna Fred Skype!
I should Blair that file email!
I'll just Kyle message!

None of these follow the logical structure of English that we expect.

In English it isn't logical. But for example in Dutch:

Ik ga Peter emailen
Ik wil Blair die file sturen
Ik ga Kyle een bericht sturen

In Dutch, the logic IS there. People-centric UI is an essential subset of UI design. I've owned a Windows Phone since the first WP phones came out in the Netherlands (HTC Trophy7 in September 2010). Since then, whenever looking at iOs or earlier 'Droid phones it made these phones look so ancient. App-Centric is not the way to go on a phone.

In general, Data-centric, like document-centric and people-centric connect with me more than the old "start-an-app" paradigm.
February 01, 2014 7:48
The earliest Androids have had linking to actions from the get go. For a non-contact example (although that, too, existed), as soon as voice turn by turn was added to Maps, I created a folder on my G1 for Nav points and started dumping them into there. Get in the car, open the folder and click the one I want to go to. Could've skipped the folder, but I like the organization folders give. As previously alluded to, until voice search/selection becomes a real first class citizen in mobile UI.
February 01, 2014 23:38
But is it really people-centric design?

Personally I think the major difference between Apple's approach and Microsoft's approach since the beginning of time (read: Macintosh and Windows 95) is that Apple's interfaces are always focused on apps (tools or nouns) while Microsoft's interfaces are focused on tasks (or verbs).

iOS is very much an evolution of Mac OS where you open apps, close apps and switch between apps. On a Mac you can even have an app running without a document or even a window.

Microsoft's UI is centered around tasks. You "start" a task (that's why "Shutdown" was in the Start Menu), you close a task and you always see all running tasks side by side on a bar. Every "task" is represented by a window. If you end all "write a letter" tasks, Word will be closed in the background automatically.

Windows Phone is an evolution of that task-based concept IMO where the content get's on the highest level. Therefore I think it isn't really people-centric but content-centric. The most common tasks are grouped: You play "Games", you watch and share "Pictures" and you communicate with "People". The content-centric design makes it very personal, sure. A reason why people *love* or *hate* Windows (Phone) 8's interface. There is almost nothing in between.

And I believe that this approach is the right way to go in the near future if natural interfaces (especially voice) will be more important. You don't tell your device to "open Twitter!", you tell it to "send a tweet to ...!", "open recipe for ...", "navigate to ..."

Why hasn't it taken off? Maybe because of developers? Don't they want their apps to be center-stage? An app icon is also some kind of advertising of a brand.
February 02, 2014 8:13
Did everyone here miss Facebook Home?

This launched with much ado, if people (well, Facebook) centric and was a massive flop. Then the entire UX community wondered why, everyone concluded that people didn't want phones to be people-centric, and we moved on (perhaps pre-maturely).
February 04, 2014 9:21
Some people made the close connection here: it's (English) language based, for sure. Noun first then verb - but only if YOU are doing it. Like selecting the phone before you dial it, or picking an onion before you slice it. If you're asking someone (or something, like a phone) to do it, then it's a command: verb first, then noun. Like DOS. "copy 123.txt".
It wasn't until mice should up that the line between who was doing what got blurry.

At this point, we are all app driven because we've been trained to be.

I pin this blog to my desktop with Metro reader because I want a one tap to Scott's blog.

I pin my family group to my phone and use the "text everyone" feature a lot.

But when I want to catch up on Facebook, I use the app (which is awful).

These are very different activities, and even though they seem related, they really aren't. Reading a book and reading the newspaper are both reading, but the similarity ends there.

Context is crucial and app/os vendors are battling over controlling their context. I would never develop a Facebook app because they will never let anyone's success dictate any control over the users.

My wife won't part with her iPhone, but complains constantly about it. Conditioning, marketing, brain washing. Take your pick. I can text 5 times her speed with my 920. She doesn't want to change.

I'm not going to convince her. After 34 years, I've learned to pick my battles.

I love Metro and Windows Phones. Took real guts to do those things
February 05, 2014 8:41
I think it is a matter of perception. Instead of thinking in terms of "people centric," "app centric," or "context centric" why don't we realize our list of personas is long and diverse. To use a term, only for demonstrative purposes, I would go with "user centric" and blur it all together.

Maybe I am wondering what Sherrie has been up to - people centric. Or I think I wan't to call Sherrie - app centric. Now I also might want to leave myself a task, to pick up milk on the way home - app centric. Sherrie and I are out, wha good food is near by - context centric. Why does it have to be one or the other? If I get a message, and it is approved to interrupt me, then show it, and allow me to respond... I don't want an app to open. I just want to reply and get back to what I was doing as fast as I can.

I personally believe that the Windows Phone, Windows 8.1, and the XBox One are dangerously close to exactly that. Now, if they could just find some good marketers...
February 12, 2014 14:39
Apparently it seems to go into the exact opposite direction if the latest WP 8.1 leaks prove to be real.

Facebook is going to be removed from the people hub and form a separate app instead:

"Users can no longer broadcast share to multiple networks. Users of Twitter, Facebook, Sina Weibo and LinkedIn must use apps for these social networks to compose, post, and update."

Near the bottom of the article.
February 19, 2014 2:08
I love the people-centric design in both WP and Win8. The reason it isn't used more often is because of feature lag. When I got my first Lumia (a 720), I was excited about having everything available at the operating system level, including Facebook messages. The speed of accessing someone's profile via People was just amazing, especially after my lackluster experience with my iPhone 3G. However, the more I tried to use it, the more I realized that there are things you want to do that are Facebook-related that you can't do through the People app.
- Conversation with multiple people? nope.
- View who exactly liked a photo you posted? nope, you just get a count
- Like a reply comment to a post you made? Nope, not available.

I find these omissions everywhere, and in each horizontal slice of the app (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) As a power-user (and programmer) I can track the limitations in my head and use the appropriate app in the appropriate situation... quickly looking at photos of a contact is a great use of their Contact page, for instance. But more and more I've begrudgingly started using the Facebook app to do FB stuff, because all of the FB features are supported natively. I can do all of that stuff I just described. So despite it being a much slower app than the Contact page, it is more reliable. I think that for a regular user just a few of these mishaps or omissions would be enough for them to never look at the feature again.

This will likely remain the case unless MS really spent a huge effort keeping People up-to-date, or if MS encouraged app vendors to code functionality directly into the People app. That said, there is no incentive for most vendors to do that since they don't get paid when people use their data this way. FB doesn't make money off of making WP a better user experience, or buying into the experience. They need to control the experience themselves to control the revenue.
February 25, 2014 22:09
You should try this on Germans. I think many of the other commenters are on to something with English word order.

In German the word order is the same as ours by default (Subject->Verb->Object) but there are many things that "kick" the verb to the end of the sentence. For example "I tweet Ben" would be in the same order as English but as soon as you add it "want to", "did", "am going to" or "should" it kicks the verb to the end. The resulting order, "I want to Ben tweet", sounds totally natural in German. I would guess that the vast majority of conversational German sentences are like this making Subject->Object->Verb the most common word order.

It might be fun to compare the results of People-Focused UI focus group results from American vs. German subjects .

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.