Never underestimate the value of a catchy title. This entry is about Longhorn, though—specifically the work we are doing in People and Groups to bridge contact lists--not only between application, but between devices.
My good friend Jeremy, a PM on the IE team, came into my office on Thursday asking if I’ve seen his phone. He couldn’t find it. The funny part: he had no way to get a hold of his girlfriend. The only place he had her number was on his phone. Ironically, I had a related conversation the day before. I was eating noodles at a local restaurant and a group of nice young ladies invited me to join them for dinner. When one of them pulled out her cell phone I immediately went into user research mode.
Me: How many people do you have on your cell phone?
Her: I had 120, but I just cleaned it out. Now I have about 100.
Me: What would you do if you lost your phone?
Her: That happened to me once and it was tragic. Now I type the important people into an Excel spreadsheet so I don’t lose them.
When people I know lose their mobile devices, they are usually more upset about loosing their address list than of loosing an expensive toy.
“But Kevin,” you might ask, “What does this have to do with Longhorn?”
Great question. The people on my team are doing a great deal of work to make sure mobile devices (most importantly cell phones) integrate in powerful and useful ways with the Longhorn People and Group platform.
Last month our Development Manager gave a talk at WinHec entitled Communications In “Longhorn”: Telephony, Mobile Devices And HW/SW Integration. (PowerPoint slides)
The scenario target: One unified address book on all of my devices and communications applications.
I have contacts spread across three lists: my Outlook address book, my Messenger contact list, and my cell phone. They are not kept in sync. In the case of my phone, they are not backed up.
Wouldn’t it be cool if when I added a person to my contact list in Messenger I could easily add them to my cell phone? Wouldn’t it be great if loosing me cell phone didn’t mean I had to email all of my friends and ask them for their phone number (and hope you run into the people for whom you don’t have an email address?) Loosing your phone should be a great experience, because it gives you an excuse to get a Pocket PC Phone Edition.
Sadly, none of the members of the P&G sync team are blogging (yet). Free to post your comments, questions, and horror stories. I’ll pass them along.