Social Extensibility framework Photos
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Sharing is caring – How the Social Extensibility framework for Windows Phone 8.1 will make things better

Windows Phone 8.1 has a lot going on under the hood, from unified app stores with Windows 8.1 to new tools for developers. One of those tools is dubbed the ‘Social Extensibility Framework’ and while an odd term, it will have vast consequences for Windows Phone users going forward.

In case you’re wondering, this is the ‘What happened to Facebook in Windows Phone 8.1?’ discussion. While some of you have lamented the changes, no doubt due in part to habit, in the long run this improved architecture alteration will give companies a more consistent and unified approach to Windows Phone.

Social Extensibility framework Whats new

What is the Social Extensibility framework?

The Social Extensibility framework, or what I’ll refer to just as SEF going forward, is a new set of “exposed…social extension APIs” from Microsoft. It’s a gift to developers, and it will allow apps to hook into the OS directly.

Previously, Windows Phone had some privileged services like Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype and Facebook, which were allowed to connect deeply into the OS. Users could post once across networks, see updates in their Me Tile and have an integrated experience like no other mobile OS. Indeed, Microsoft rightly bragged about this function as having Twitter and Facebook profile information ‘linked’ to your contacts directly was new.

The problem was that those networks changed, and they changed often.

As a result, things would break, services wouldn’t connect, and new features weren’t adopted in a timely manner. Microsoft would have to update the entire OS to add or fix those services, and in the mobile game, that’s just not time Microsoft had to spare (and when something broke the outrage from users was evident).The SEF is Microsoft’s answer as it’s a set of tools that will allow companies like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more to tie into the OS. What’s more, it will be open to other social network companies, ensuring there are no longer privileged apps on the system. Facebook’s integration will look like Twitter’s, etc. That means the user-experience should also be consistent.

Social Extensibility framework People Hub
Old versus New People Hub in 8.1

What SEF can do

Last week, the beta build of the new Twitter app for Windows Phone 8.1 was leaked. We predicted at the time that the app would be pulled, and sure enough hours later it was. But the real news was seeing just how deep the app could plug into the OS.

Here are a few features that the SEF can do:

  • Sign in once, signs in everywhere
  • Richer People Hub experience
  • ‘Connect’ feature in a contact’s listing
  • Photos Hub integration
  • New Share experience

Let’s look at those individually to explain better what they mean to you in your everyday usage.

  • Sign in once – On Windows Phone 8, you could sign in under Settings > email + accounts and link your account to the OS for Twitter and Facebook. You also could then install an app because the experience wasn’t complete. That was confusing and odd. Now, when you sign into the app, it will plug into the OS directly. Sure, Facebook is still there under email + accounts, but tapping it only sends you off to the official app.
  • People Hub/What’s New – Twitter images that are embedded in the What’s New stream are now more than just thumbnails; instead, they are full sized photos. Tapping someone’s tweet will take you directly to that message in the official Twitter app. From there, you can get the full suite of Twitter tools instead of just ‘post’ or ‘reTweet’. Likewise, tapping someone’s Facebook post will open the app, giving you a non-crippled experience since you have access to Like, comments and more directly.
  • Connect – Connect is new in 8.1, and it is found under a contact’s listing in your People Hub. Twitter and Facebook social accounts look like Tiles and tapping them will take you directly to that person’s Twitter page or Facebook wall. Basically, Connect is a one-stop area where you can see what networks your contact is on, allowing you to interact with them directly.
  • Share – Sharing has been overhauled in 8.1 and developers can now have their service’s icon under Share with a finer-grained experience.
  • Photos Hub library – Social apps can now have their photo libraries embedded in the Photos Hub. That means you can now share a picture you posted on Twitter in your email, text message, WhatsApp, etc. That’s quite powerful as it links up all your social network photo repositories up through the OS, allowing you to post photos from Facebook to LinkedIn to whatever. It’s universal.

Of course, the biggest boon to this new architecture is that services can now be updated much more frequently, since it is the app – and not the OS – that is doing all the heavy lifting. Think of these APIs as universal keys that can plug into Windows Phone 8.1. They stay the same, but the OS and apps can change around them. That means if a new feature comes to Facebook or Twitter, a simple app update can introduce that feature right away.

Social Extensibility framework Connect

Which apps?

The lingering question is, which apps will take advantage of it? For now, it looks like the Social Extensibility framework will be limited to official services from companies who work with Microsoft. Facebook, Twitter, Skype and LinkedIn are obvious choices. Instagram, Foursquare, WhatsApp, VK and others are certainly likely. Those companies though will need to be in talks with Microsoft to get those APIs and build their apps. Clearly Twitter already is, as last week’s beta leak confirmed.

The potential though is huge. There’s a good chance the Instagram app will get this, meaning you can see someone’s Instagram account in their contact listing, or see your Instagram stream under the ‘What’s New’ section (users can enable/disable services as a filter already). It would also mean you can easily access your entire Instagram library for instant sharing to Skype, email or your favorite messenger service.

Giving up one thing, getting much more in return

Although we have lost Facebook Messaging integration with 8.1, it should be obvious that what we’re getting in return is in many ways more powerful. There’s no doubt that a built in, native experience would be preferred, but let’s face it: it just didn’t pan out. Even if Microsoft could dynamically update the OS, the risks in screwing up the software piping would still be high (and imagine getting an OS update just to fix something you never use).

The new Social Extensibility framework is a compromise. Instead of full, deep OS integration that only a few services could use, now any major social network can tie into the OS, giving users a richer user experience. Of course, it all depends on if those companies adapt their apps to 8.1 to leverage this, which is something we’ll have to see in the coming months. But I’m pretty excited about the potential here, as I think you should be too.

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Reader comments

Sharing is caring – How the Social Extensibility framework for Windows Phone 8.1 will make things better

327 Comments

We still can't post to multiple sites!!! It's just like on android :(
Anf I hate the fact that when I post something like an article with a link on facebook, only the link appears....no title, no summary....too bad.

I really wish that was improved. A preview of what the link is all about, is how it should be at least on Facebook. The other do-able thing is - an app that should be able to link all these apps into one and have one buton share. We NEED it. We didn't just lose Facebook integrated messaging in WP8.1, we lost the ability to re-do #smokedbyWindowsPhone. I am wondering why iPhone hasn't yet picked on this and come back with #smokedYourWindowsPhone campaign of their own to show how we cannot share to multiple social networks anymore.

Exactly.  iOS and Android can now do ALL of this at LEAST as fast as Windows Phone 8.1, but likely much faster.  I dare someone to prove me wrong.

This is why I'm crossing my fingers and wishing we get an official Facebook app. Not this ridiculous Microsoft Facebook app.

Yup, I mean, really, a "Connect" tab with giant links to a contact's social profiles? Wow, groundbreaking.

You know what would be neat? If, like, you could see photos of that person, from their social networks, right there! .... Oh, wait, we had that before. Nevermind.

I suppose I get why they did this but they clearly did not have nearly time to it right, at all. As usual it's, "Hold on for a year while we re-do everything we already did, and then it will be great!" I feel like we've been here before, huh...

Also, as far as the integration breaking all the time, I don't remember that. Microsoft had to fix Twitter integration once in awhile. It would be down for a day, like, five times a year, big deal. And the social networks updating all the time? I don't see how this fixes that. The Facebook integration doesn't appear that it will ever be able to do more with this API than the native integration did, sooo.....

Oh, also, of course news today says that Google just combined SMS and Hangouts chat into one :)

+1020 - whilst there are some excellent advances in these new apps the inability to be able to post to multiple networks at once is a real shame; as is the ability to very easily like, comment, reply to tweet etc without opening an app - which not only takes longer but also seems to need more network - in locations with poor coverage I could often see activity via Me hub that I never could through the apps.

Also whilst on the me hub I really miss the historic list of notifications.  Nw notification centre is superb but once its gone its gone now - plus old notifications could very easily be refreshed

Related:

On desktop, right-click file(s) in a folder > Send To > Skype > Select contact(s) and press OK. It will send to the entire selection instatly; without needing you to drag-drop them or using file picker.

On Phone, tap a picture or file > Share > oh crap! there is no Skype in the list..

Till date, third-party apps are doing much better than Skype on WP. Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat, Nimbuzz, Zalo and hundreds of other apps offer file sharing. Delaying these basic features is pointless and nonsense tbvh.

But the shring menu is different for apps. all apps are appearing while sharing a pic from Photos App. Same thing is not happening while shaing a pic from facebook.

Well i liked the me integration it should be appear in sucj a way that all 3rd party should allow notificatiins to show in me tile

I would still like to wait before getting excited. Integrated fb chat was my most used thing and facebook app never played good for me... fb messenger is decent enough though. The idea of universal sign-in option is a great approach.

I'm very excited about the possibilities that this would enabled, hope to see WhatsApp and instagram integrated

So here's how this works: if we have news, we report it. If we have no news, then we don't report it ;) We don't hold back info on those things like 'oh yeah, it comes on Wednesday at 12:15pm, I didn't mention that?' lol

Maybe calling it SEF is WP exclusive and droid does it in a clunkier way and iOS calls it iApps or something. We can't be the only one who can't share to multiple networks right? Riiiiiight?

While we are on topic, why have you not reported when does Facebook and Skype update for Blue apps go live? I am sure you know plenty about this, if not, shouldn't you be feeding our curiosities? ;)

I honestly have no idea. Belfiore said they are coming soon.

I did say 5/31 was the kickoff date for 8.1, so it makes sense that when 8.1 goes online for reals (not a 'preview'), we'll see a bunch of 8.1 apps come online too.

That's an uber long wait to be honest but then lets just hope it doesn't become 31st July or August instead. #GoodThingsHappenToGoodPeople

Nah, it feels so incomplete to use preview without all these apps taking advantage of it. Right now I feel like I am using an Android phone with a laucher theme of Windows Phone 8. App notifications are buggy looking (whereas they aren't) and notification centre feel crappy because nothing is there (since apps aren't updated) etc etc.

Really? Notification Center works perfect for me on Twitter (beta), Metro Talk, Today's Word, WPCentral, Email, WhatsApp, Fitbit Tracker, Facebook etc.

Love how I can tell it 'no banners, no sound, but show up in Notification Center'. Haven't missed a one yet.

Regardless, it's a Dev Preview. Microsoft doesn't owe us having 8.1 apps ready out the gate for it.

Facebook? That defo doesn't work on mine. Whatsapp, Messenger and WPCentral are three realiable ones. Twitter again doesn't work. So that sort of removes 2 key social networks. I know MSFT doesn't owe us any apps, but it would be a really good experience overall if these apps were there for people to see what WP8.1 is all about when they buy new Lumia 930 instead of returning them in "7 days return policy" window.

I don't get all facebook notifications in action center so I still have to go to app to check notifications....i does show in facebook tile but not always in action center. So now we wonder what good is facebook from peoples hub? What can we do and what can't we do ? Does the majority of Wp like it or just the minorities? 2 years ago Microsoft said the had the right idea for WP peoples hub. Now 2014 ....they say they now have the right idea for WP peoples hub....we'll be seeing something different in 2 more years

That's because the current App versions don't yet support Action Centre.

Does anyone know if Facebook Beta is WP8.1 compatible yet as it wasnt when the preview was released.

I agree Daniel. I have not had any issue with notification center at all. The only thing I wish that I could control, would be to see a little bit more of the notification to make a determination if I want to click on it. So many of the notifications (especially FB and Twitter Beta) get truncated before being able to tell if they are worth opening.
 

Agreed, it is almost useless as is.  'Oh I got a notification that I have no idea if I want to take to the time to lauch the buggy app, go to it, then go back to the main menu to see the other notifications that I couldn't read.'
This is a very very crappy experience compared to what we had in the Me tile.

 

The first thing that they need to fix is uploading the photos while on the background. But these new improvements are def good!

Seriously feel that the users lost here and the developers at MS won. I'm a dev myself and can see the reasoning, but I still feel I lost because it was just so damn nice to be able to post to several networks at once.....

I absolutely agree.  I can count on one hand the number of times I DIDN'T post to multiple networks simultaneously.  Now I have to copy and paste and post and post and post and.......BAH!!!  If Microsoft is going to keep its head in the up-and-locked position about this, then I pray a developer comes up with an app that REPLACES the functionality that we use to have with the Me tile.  I'll pay big bucks to get that back.  Right now, the ONLY thing I can use as a reason to recommend my friends get a Windows Phone for is Cortana.  I hate most of the other features added in 8.1, and I wouldn't mention them in my recommendations.

I don't really understand why they got rid of that particular functionality. It should still be possible, just that each service would be queued up and auto-close themselves when the share action was completed like a promise.

I think that the Facebook messenger should utilize the same API and be integrated to the messaging hub... Oh wait! Microsoft has no plans for that. Wtf?? Why you do this Microsoft??

Really?? I hope you know that the new Facebook app being made by FACEBOOK itself, is going to be integrated into the OS. And also, it's Microsoft's fault as they should have allowed integration into not only the people hub but also the messaging hub. Get it??

Are you sure it was Microsoft's fault that they disagreed from allowing facebook messenger app by facebook to be integrated into the messaging hub? Because I heard somewhere facebook forcibly removed the integrated chat...

Really? That's weird. I mean allowing the app as a whole to be integrated, but not the messenger. Pfft! But come to think about it very deeply, it's not integration in the said sense, but only linking up or ' hooking up' if you will.

I'm not sure about the news I said above, but integrating / linking up (you say) the app as a whole would kill the sole reason of having an "official app". It'll be more like an OS feature. That definietly would be something that everyone would like to taste once! but that won't be possible anytime soon.

a) whole app can't be integrated into messaging hub

b) if its integrated, then every time Facebook changes something on their end, it will mean Microsoft push out OS update to fix it.

c) if its integrated, then every time Facebook wants to add new things it can actually make money out of i.e. ads, stickers etc - it will need to tell Microsoft about this and then Microsoft will have to think if they want to update the OS or not.

 

However, in current "hooking up" scenario, Facebook can do whatever the heck they want, if they want to integrate things in Photos hub, they can. If they want to integrated contacts to People hub, they can. If they want to let  you do quick status updates and use emotions, they can. If they want to show you the finger and not do any of this, they can. Microsoft can build their OS instead of fixing Facebook Messenger everytime someone at Facebook has diarrhoea.

I said the same thing to @Gautam, above, about the hooking up scenario. I don't think someone needs to be a developer to understand that. So, my point is that at least Microsoft should have opted for the hook up scenario to the messaging hub, don't you think?

Daniel explained it below somewhere, messaging hub should be in pipeline in one of the GDRs or threshold *if* the developer response to these extra APIs is good. As you may have noticed developers are more often than not, lukewarm at best when it comes to doing anything nice with WP. So it sort of makes sense (if it was too laborous to implement) that messaging hub is not currently integrated.

Realistically, I can't imagine a technical reason why (at least most of) the previous functionality couldn't have been maintained while also expanding SEF. Doing away with the notifications on the Me tile is fine (though I did like being able to go back to those notifications), but basic messaging is not one of those things that will change. Moreover, even if it does change, that shouldn't matter because the API would expose - to the app - the functionality required to add messages, etc. There is a downside to each app being responsible for these basic services - all those apps must run separately to provide updates.

The one thing I think you're missing about all this is that in the FB messenger, which is being seperated from the FB app on all other OS's, also tries to sell stuff on it. So the likelihood of it being 'integrated' are slim, unless it can be done while still trying to convince people to pay them for "stickers".

is that why Facebook message doesn't work under certain situation, because Facebook's messenger API was changed? I mean if that's the reason then you can't really blame MS for removing FB message from messenger hub since it won't work half of the time.

if it was something that every developer could access and it was something not limited to just social networking, it would be much more awesome.

Me Tile is still useful for checkins and posting to your social network of choice. The real degradation was not due to this change, but the Notification Hub. It was the old Notifications section that was removed from the Me Tile.

The ability the post across networks was my main use of the ME tile for me. For the first time since Windows phone was released, I no longer have the ME tile on my home screen. :(

Sorry if it'a dumb question but I have also been curious about this since I love the way the Me tile was functioning before. I have not tried the 8.1 Dev Preview yet but from my understanding is that the Me tile is useless now or will there be some of this new social-extensibility added back once we have updated WP 8.1 social apps? Can you no longer do a quick Check In or Status Update in the Me Tile anymore in 8.1?  

Thanks.

in 8.1, instead of posting across networks, you can either (a) have it ask you which network you want to post to or checkin each time or (b) pick a default app to always use.

Since it now launched the chosen app's posting window, there's no way to post to multiple networks. The tradeoff? You actually get a full set of posting tools, instead of the barren, stripped down version in 8.0. So a more complete experience vs. multiple posting.

Ok sounds good. Thanks for the explanation Daniel. Guess I'll get to check it out if I ever get around to trying out the 8.1 Developer bits or maybe I'll just wait for the AT&T deployment.

Thanks :)

Daniel I understand your position however they could have improved upon the way the ME Tile functioned. Why remove the possibility of posting to multiple networks. Give us the user that option to still post the old way or if one would like the new way.

Gutting that functionality was poor judgment on Microsoft's part.

Yep, the ME tile is dead now. I unpinned it. If I have to post to one at a time, I'll just open the appropriate app. Its like iOS or Android now - and not in a good way.

I really liked being able to respond to Facebook messages with my voice while driving. I was looking forward to 8.1 having a similar capability with Skype messaging and others. I get the strategy, though.

Yes that was nice. I am hoping they could somehow integrate the voice control into all apps that take advantage of this new architecture. But it looks unlikely. I don't understand why almost no apps allow you to use speech to text either. Like whatsapp would be perfect for speech to text, like on IOS.

i don't understand why they are not putting an API in SEF to allow apps to integrate in messaging HUB like they are doing for people and photo hub...

I mean, baby steps? Let's see how this plays out and they may expand things. Remember, this is a '0.1' OS release. There's at least three GDR updates and 'Threshold' next spring. There's lots of room for improvement and new features, but just look how much as already come in 8.1. They can't do everything...

I agree that we should wait to see how this pans out, but come on Daniel... Don't tell people to ignore the .1 when people say that Microsoft isn't updating much by only going from 8.0 to 8.1 in version numbers, but then tell them that "oh, this is only a .1 update, don't expect a lot".

Let me tell you something: the original plans for Blue were just the unified app store. MS had so much work to do on making that happen, that forward facing consumer features were barely on the table. The fact we got this much is actually remarkable.

Remarkable but neccessary. Their development got caught too far behind thier strategy. They had been spending so much time on backend improvements since Mango that the dominant theme of WP chatter became "why are they so slow to update". At that point, you either put customer-facing updates out there or your platform dies.

I think 8.1 is great.

But instead of allowing Photo Hub integration wouldn't it be wise to do messaging hub and people hub integration first? I mean, we are talking about being the best in communication, right? Photo hub integration could have waited till GDR2. But knowing how popular Whatsapp and Facebook are and the fact that there is NO iMessenger or Hangout equivalent on the OS (despite owning Skype for 3 yrs now!) this could have been the first choice even if they asked me or OhGood! ;)

There is People Hub integration. Regarding Messaging, I'm not sure what their plans are, if they are going to do that.

It just seems like you can haven't it both ways: bring down messages, with ability to respond without launching the app. That's not how it's done 8.1. There are deep links and app launching.

Lol, its like I shuddered when I read that. Windows Phone has spent years teaching us: this is so much better because you don't have to launch the app! Now, out of the "blue" sky its like, oh yea that stuff is all gone but it's so much better because we launch the app for you!

I think maybe we have different ideas of what integration is, at least in this context.  I don't call what's been done to WP8.1 integration.

Well, baby backward step ? we had messaging hub and they are removing it just when Google is intagrating Hangout with text...

They can't do everything, they just need to remove every improvments thats came with the last update in the next one.

Messaging hub was cool and everything in 2012. But 2 years down the line, with no update or increase in features, don't you think it is good that it died, the way it did? Would you REALLY want to have an OS update just so that they add stickers to your hub? or background image to the hub?

Oh, I dunno, gee, maybe instead of killing the integration because a lot of it required a core update, how about improving the integration in such a way that the core OS didn't require an update?  Instead, all they've done is give us glorified app folders the simply point you to a separate app.  So, no, I don't really agree.

Why can't we have the best of both worlds? Surely the ability to post to multiple social networks is still possible while still enabling SEF???

Like all things in software development, this is probably a 1.0 release. There has never been an app or service in the world released that was feature complete going out. Think of the OS architectural changes required plus the API writing to get this much done, making the OS more modular. It's kind of crazy.

I know but it's like, could there be a nice span where we don't need to lose features, readapt, and wait for things to be re-done again? Just for that vision to be thrown out again, and we wait for things to be redone later? I am a huge WP fan, but, this has really got my head spinning.

Honestly I think it's hidden behind registry setting. MS is not known to completely remove large chunks of code like this.

It's now similar to Windows 8, and it had an app called Fliptoast that did just that.  So i would expect at some point 3rd parties getting in on the action. (Unless we continue to see 1st parties lock out 3rd parties from their API's)

Not sure if anybody else had the problem, but twitter beta when it integrated to the people hub, if i try to click a link from a tweet, it couldnt.  It would just open up the screen to reply to the message.  There wasn't a way for me to click a link, anywhere you click whether the arrow or on the tweet or even the link, opens up the reply screen.  So i couldnt open a link through the people hub. 

 

Ended up uninstalling the app and putting it back on the normal twitter integration through the emails/accounts.  Works better. 

It does make sense, but still sucks. I actually like the fb chat in messaging. And I like having quick access to comment or post. Sucks sometimes having to wait for the fb app to load. I'm not even sure its worth having the people hub and me tile pinned up. You don't get any notifications on the me tile and pretty much everything in the people hub you can do in the fb app. Well, lets hope the fb app gets better a lot faster now. It makes sense, but still sucks. Its one of the things that made WP different than the other two mobile oses.

I think the Me Tile is mostly useless because everyone wanted a Notification center, which now makes the Notifications in the Me Tile redundant. That's what really killed that off, imo.

Yeah I unpinned the Me Tile after I updated, it's pretty useless now. But the Notification Centre is more useful than if was so it's a decent tradeoff imo.

Meanwhile, I hate everything about the notification center and I flat refuse to use it.  I feel the same way about the disintegration of the volume controls, but because the volume buttons are now, for all practical purposes BROKEN, I have no choice but to fight with THAT piece of junk.

The idea of not need to open apps was one of my main points when I bought my first WP7 and then my WP7 wife's. Now that ability is gone

You get notifications in Action Center but sometimes you can't answer and just dismiss it. With Me tile you could see them later

As @Aren says, FB app is not that faster to load

The problem for me is that they really aren't redundant. I didn't see any of the notifications yesterday from people on Facebook wishing me a happy birthday. Didn't see them until I opened Facebook on a whim just before midnight. I was pretty bummed. There was literally no reason to remove the notifications from the Me Tile especially since it was designated for social notifications. I still haven't seen one Facebook notification yet in the Action Center, our Twitter for that matter. Now my Me Tile does nothing but cycle over my profile picture. I rarely post, so it was only ever good for the notifications.

"There was literally no reason to remove the notifications from the Me Tile especially since it was designated for social notifications."

Sure there was, redundancy. How do you explain to someone that you have two areas for Notifications, but they behave differently. That's bad OS design, not a benefit.

Re: Notifications, do you have banner notifications enabled in the app? And have you gone into the Notification Center to configure it? Because I get all my FB notifis as well as for Twitter (8.1 beta, which I hope you're using, because if not , then this point is moot).

Facebook (the latest official app) doesn't appear in my notification+action center settings and I can't find a way to make it show up. I have all the necessary settings enabled in the app itself, it just didn't work. On Twitter, I was not so lucky as to get the beta build before it was removed, but I thought the one we have now would work since most other apps do. Guess I was wrong. Either way, both of those accounts are linked to my phone in account settings, so I should still get the notifications, right? It just doesn't make sense.

As for redundancy, I understand what you're saying, but isn't the point of live tiles to give you information at a glance? I used to see notifications about who posted to my wall and who liked my statuses straight from the tile, but now it does nothing. I see no reason for them to have removed that functionality. It almost seems like Microsoft deliberately killed a lot of live tile functionality in 8.1.

Why couldn't the ME tile compliment the notification centre. Why not have the swiping down from the top of the screen open up ME Tile. Microsoft needs to learn to improve upon ors innovations rather than kill them off. I said months ago the ME tile is a notification centre and that it just simply needed to be expanded.

Great article Dan. I was apprehensive due to losing those features mentioned. I guess one way to see it is that currently this is the worse it could possible get so hopefully there is a huge uptick moving forward

The second to last sentence is the reason I cannot get behind this. Dropping controlled deep integration for uncontrolled framework integration will not work if companies like Twitter & Vine (assuming Vine leverages the SEF) update their apps much later than the other OSs & companies like Instagram & LinkedIn hardly update at all. We've gone from a solid, reliable, easy and fast experience (#SmokedByWindowsPhone) to a disjointed & slow app based experience topped with finger crossing that apps get updates in time. This does not excite me at all and actually worries me quite a bit.

LinkedIn on wp8 is pathetic and so is Groupon. They are so much more functional on iOS and Android. Both these companies should be banned for providing a terrible experience on windowsphone OS. I'm sure there are many more apps that needs updating.

An alternative analysis is opening up your APIs and frameworks makes companies want to develop on your platform. Privileging some services over others may make them gun shy.

Think of the unified app store, the new API changes, the new billing methods, shared code, etc. and devs have a lot to be excited about when developing on Win 8/WP. Sure, it remains to be seen if good comes of it, but I'm not sure closing things down and excluding companies was the way to go either. I mean, it's obvious it hasn't worked so far, so why not change things?

WRONG! The opportunity to make lots of M0NEY is what makes people want to develop on your platform. M0ney comes from market share. Market share WAS growing because WP offered something better and different, and people were catching on. It's not better and different now. So market share growth will slow and start shrinking.

Nobody bought a windowsphone because it was the SAME as android and iphone, they bought them cus they were different, faster, more integrated, beautiful and visually, the first interface that was actually designed FOR a tiny phone screen, as opposed to iphone and android which are just shrunken-down versions of their PC desktop interface designs.

Hubs, live tiles, and the iniversal visual beauty and consistency of metro were the reasons to switch to WP. This update has killed the hubs, made metro an uninteligible design MESS, and, by enabling clear tiles, spawned a whole slough of apps that kill live tiles in order to let people see their wallpaper, which will kill everything that made Start a cohesive brand, even while it allowed so much choice and customization. Now "Start" loses its entire brand identity and becomes unrecognizable if people want:

Will people start developing for WP if the market share stops increasing and starts decreasing? Aboslutely not. And WP is visually and intuitively destroyed, so kiss that growth goodbye.

 

 

 

good point. this entire article works under the premises these companies will take the extra time to integrate with WP. I doubt it unless MSFT can bring in some huge marketshare numbers.

However as you said, the experience sucks. Everytime I get tossed into some app I now constantly hit back beause I don't want to wait 5 seconds for the stupid app to load. It's like back to android.....

 

I know. It blows. my. mind. but I am quickly losing my excitement about this platform (I'm the guy who bought in on Day One). I actually cannot now tell someone why they should chose Windows Phone over iOS. Sure, before we didn't have the apps, but we had an amazing, smooth, fast, beautiful experience. Now, still don't have the apps, but the experience... like, a less-ugly, more-reliable, simpler Android.

The other day my friend told me to check out particular podcast Stitcher had recommended. I rolled my eyes because a) I didn't know what the heck Stitcher is, and b) because she thinks I must since the whole world uses iPhones.

Okay, I will! I told her, knowing all the while that I would just pull up Music + Video, search for the podcast in the Store, and hit subscribe.

Uhh, but no. Store doesn't search podcasts anymore, so I pull up the Podcast app, roll my eyes at the splash screen, and find, y'know, a barren shell. "Search Bing" for podcasts, it suggests. Which I do there, and which pulls up nothing for this new, but popular podcast.

So, what do I do? I go looking for another podcast app! Which I download and try to use to find this show. And you know what I thought when I was doing it? "I wish I could download that Stitcher app..." And that sounds like a path to end up owning an iPhone. SCARY.

Same here. Windowsphone is no longer windowsphone.  They just abandoned everything that made WP better in order to be more like the phones that are already kicking their butts.

Made an appt at Microsoft store to flash my phone & get WP 8 Lumia black put back on my phone. If that doesnt work they say they will replace my phone with one that doesnt have 8.1 on it.

Brilliant work MS. Hope all official apps jump on this and utilize the APIs provided and bring us all a better user experience.

I agree with you two, but I think Microsoft is trying to force people OFF messenger and onto skype, not the other way around. Not only does it not support FB messaging, it doesnt support any kind of WiFi messaging. All it's for now is texting.

We lost two things. Facebook message integration (I dont really care) and ability to post statuses on multiple social networks. (I care a lot as this was probably the only way I used twitter anymore) I'm really gunna miss this. And hopefully it'll come book as more social networks use this

we also lost the "pictures" view in the contact card (or group) which would show you the FB images of the person (or group) and let you see their image posts and reply withing the OS comments without delay. Now, it launches the massive FB app and you have to basically use the app. This was one of the things I would demo all the time to family friends because it was so blazingly fast and didn't require going in and out of FB all the time.

Yeah, i used that a lot. It was fast and smooth. Now i have to wait ages for FB app to open and load all the data on mi humble 512 Mb device. I think i'm gonna remove the Me Tile too.

I miss this as well.  SO much of WP8.1 is not even a step back, it's all out pretending to be iOS or Android at the expense of what made WP BETTER than them.  I'm more angry about the 8.1 changes to WP than I was to the 8.1 Update 1 changes to Windows on the PC.

I just wish it wasn't ripped out of the underbelly of WP. I loved it.

Not to mention, Facebook notifications still don't show up, and Facebook messenger doesn't support themes.. :D

Yeah, one step back, and two steps forward, but this is exciting. Looking forward to more social networks plugging into this framework...

We could see chat services integration into SMS hub down the line. If that happened, nobody could really complain about losing Facebook chat integration.

The most important aspect that users will actually care about is speed. Are the changes faster or slower than what we had before?

The main problem with the new Games hub and Music apart from the removal of some features, is that their slower. There's now splash screen where their used to be no splash screens and ever once the apps are open you still get performance issues.

I'm all for everything in WP being replaced with apps that do the same job, but the app framework needs to be improved to a point where nobody would be able to tell that they were apps. With some of the stuff thats in the preview that's not the case, and things like the games hub which I've never had an issue with have been made worse so that they can be updated.

sorry but the promise is one thing but the devivery is another.

Launching the app is just too laggy. What used to take fractions of a second and follow the OS experience is now a laggy experience followed by frustration and dissapointment. Case in point, I used to see a live tile show a new image one of my relatives posted. I could tap the tile and instantly see the image, then scroll down and add comments. now, things are different:

FB heavy UI loads after several seconds of lag. Often the thing that loads doesn't even look like WP. And to make matters worse, it didn't even load the standard FB app but some weirdo view which lacks all the full app functionality. So if you want to do anything else...you have to relaunch the freaking app!!!

So I get all the techincal reasons this is better, but they really need to work on the implementation. The change from the smooth OS to the jarring laggy app is just too much to bear.

"sorry but the promise is one thing but the devivery is another."

True, but the the promise of easy posting to FB and Twitter that was in the previous version did not exactly catch fire either for Windows Phone. How many people bought WP because it could do that? I'm sure there are a few, but not enough.

I get the older system was preferred by many for somewhat obvious reasons. But here's the thing: outside of some dedicated users, it did nothing for Microsoft's market share. I think changing things up and bringing the social framework in line with Windows 8.1 was the way to go. Will it work? I don't know. But I do know the old way wasn't working either.

Perhaps the old was wasn't the reason people bought Windows Phone but instead the reason people kept using Windows Phone... hmmm

I'm not sure that's a reason to keep it. Look, they're trying to unify Windows and Phone. How do you do that if they have different methods for social and app interaction? They need to have the same APIs, the same dev tools and the same behavior, otherwise 'one app Store' can't happen.

No one is saying the old method didn't have its benefits. It did. But do they outweigh the cons? That has not yet been demonstrated.

THAT'S PART OF MY POINT!  As much as I love Windows 8, I was truly hoping Microsoft would bring Windows Phone features over to the PC, NOT the other way around!  Let me put in these terms: I use to push Windows Phone to anyone I could talk to.  Now, I do not.  I have nothing outside of Cortana that I'm enthusiastic about.  There are no advantages, no real differentiation with Windows Phone anymore.

Fair enough.

I still think they went a bit too agressive and risk the windows 8 problem: half the time I hit share...the app I want doesn't implement that contract. I kind of wish things like the messaging and pictures hub would have evolved in the other direction:

instead of sending you to the app to do everything meaning there is no longer a "hub" but rather a collection of app shorcuts, let the app serve its data to the OS for visualization, and let the app receive data from the OS to carry some task without ever needing to load its heavy UI. In this way MSFT could optimize the visualization and keep it OS consistent, while the app can deal with the application protocol specifics and API changes as it sees fit. They could even allow developers to specify a set of commands to show on the OS level toolbar for a given view and the metadata to return back to the app.

Clearly this would limit the possible number of interactions that are possible for a given content type. But the idea is that for most people, sending a message, viewing and liking (or RT or +1) an image, or replying to some comment can be defnined by a standard contract which would handle 90% of scenarios while allowing the developer (or user) to fall back to the app for that 10%.

The problem with the pictures hub, messaging hub, and people hub was that MSFT never published a project template so you could hand the data to the OS so the promise also never lived to the potential. Would we have this discussion if one of the project types in the WP 7.0 SDK was:

"New Pictures Hub Data Provider"?

hmmm.

 

Do you actually believe making it more like iOS and Android is going to draw people to the platform?  Seriously?  I think that is preposterous thinking on Microsoft's part.

When all you have is a tiny 1 digit share of the phone market, a "few" people is HALF your customer base!

"Get in, get out, get back to life" was not why a "FEW" people bought WPs. It was the entire basis for the whole ad campaign that pointed out the design feature--totally unique to windowsphones-- that gave people a reason to switch in the first place! Integrated, self contained hubs! So you didnt have to spend your day opening and closing dozens of different apps.

But at least it was a growing market share. Now everything that made WP different and better is down the toilet.

The only thing which made me switch from iphone 3G to Lumia 800 and then Lumia 1020 was people hub and social integration in WP.

Also xbox avatar in wp 7.5 was far better than wp 8. and now in wp 8.1 nothing happens when you touch the avatar.

Now I dont see any big differences between WP and other operating systems (ios and android). They have also more features! 

At this stage, Im not sure if I am going to buy any new windows phones or suggest to anyone specially now (as there is no Nokia). I have surface pro 2 and Microsoft support compare to Nokia is nothing (specially in app department). Look at the skype app! 

 

I'm right there with you (although in Games my avatar does a lot and dances even more?). But yep, if this doesn't get better quick, if there is no word from MS on how this is going to improve, my next phone won't be a Windows Phone. And that will be embarrassing, because I got a lot of people I know moved over.

Good article.  And timely too.  Tired of seeing complaints about this in the forums.  Is it less functional than before?  Yes.  Is it worth it to break the dependency allowing faster updates to both SEF functionality (through the respective apps) and the OS?  Absolutely.

I still prefer the old way, its painful doing anything for FB in the people hub now, its just too slow jumping in and out from the hub to facebook. In fact, I have pretty much stopped using the hub all together, and just check the apps individually.

Before, it was really convieniant and everything worked fluidly. Now it doesnt, unless they allow the people hub to work as it did before, but just use the apps in the background to post updates, I dont think I will ever prefer it to the way it was.

Maybe some years ahead when quad core and Facebook app improvements have captured up it will get faster and smoother. Bit I agree, its way to slow now, and is current hardware performance up to the task to improve or are in the "future" once again, you know, were it will get better in the next update. Time will tell I guess.

Once again, the problem.  One of the bragging points of WP was that you didn't NEED as powerful a device to get AWESOME performance and user experience.  Now...well, we've become Android....without the market influence.

Microsoft, couldn't you have found a way to make the People Hub and/or Me tile updateable apps?

This excuse of having to update the entire OS seems a bit dated. A company the size of Microsoft with the resources it has should have been able to figure out a way to keep the spirit of Windows Phone alive.

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