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The Social Phone-Work

wp ss 20121213 0001A review by Emma Hart for Scoop Techlab

I love me some social media. A little less since my daughter joined Facebook, but still. I have a long-term illness that often makes socialising in person very difficult. Being able to connect directly with people from my desk is invaluable to my mental health. Yes. My Twitter addiction is medicinal. I don't have to be able to stop any time I want.

One of the main functions of a smart-phone for me is to keep me connected to my social networks when I'm travelling. Or even when I'm at a bar for the evening. The twitching every time I accidentally leave home without my phone would be a shameful sight if I had any shame left.

The Nokia Lumia 920 handles social media in a rather more hands-on manner than I'm used to. It invites you to give it access to all your accounts. Emails, Facebook, Twitter, Google are all pre-prompted, and you can teach it other stuff too. (That's in addition to the Microsoft and Nokia accounts you've been pushed to set up to get the phone working.) Just give it all your passwords. Everything will be fine.

What 'fine' means is all my friends' Twitter icons and Facebook profile photos cycling through in a square called "People". What this has made me realise is how many profile photos I don't recognise. In the People section, you can also set up "rooms", rather like Circles on Google+, where you can share messages, photos and calendar events only with selected people.

I haven't found much use for that, but what is really handy is the "Me" section – handily decorated with my Facebook profile photo, which slides up and down for no readily apparent reason. The "Me" section lets me see all interactions with me through Hotmail, Facebook and Twitter (though not Google+), all in one place. If I've got behind and I can't face wading through my Twitter feed, this is a nice quick way to check my mentions. That said, I have the Twitter and Facebook apps installed, so there is replication of functionality. And the Facebook app is as Facebook apps notoriously are, which is no reflection on the phone.

The phone sometimes feels like having a terribly perky little PA. It just wants to help, and to integrate everything, and if you'll just give every single app access to your location data, and your address book, and your photos, everything will be lovely. My address book is now full of all the information everyone I'm connected with has given Twitter or Facebook. Listed your mobile number? It's on my phone. And your email addresses. And your most recent tweets and updates and photos. For my actual friends, it's rather lovely. For my casual acquaintances, it does feel a Bit Stalky.

One thing all this integration means is that I haven't given the phone access to my Secret Twitter Account, or the email that account's connected to. To be honest, this is probably a good idea anyway: who hasn't accidentally drunkenly tweeted form their work account?

When I gave the phone access to my Facebook account, it suggested it randomly rotate my Facebook photos on my lock screen. In the interests of writing these articles I've been saying, very unusually for me, Yes to Everything. You can restrict it to certain albums, which I didn't do. Nevertheless, for some reason it's only using about half a dozen photos from my Garden folder. This makes my lock screen pleasantly attractive, whereas if it were using the "Shenanigans" album, I'd have some explaining to do. ("No, it's okay, those aren't my breasts!")

After walking around with it for a couple of weeks, I can tell you that the Nokia does attract attention. It's not just its size and its novelty. With the profile photos flicking around in the People square, my profile pick popping up and down in the Me square, and my photos rotating in the photo square (yes, all right, those are my breasts, that's what the front-facing camera is for, right?), all the movement catches the eye. It's hypnotic. Also I have to admit that pretty early on, given all the time I was spending looking at the pretty main screen, I moved Office off it. It was orange. It clashed. With everything.

With the default size and positioning of the tiles (easily and endlessly fiddleable-with), my phone actually tells you quite a bit about me. But exhibitionism is what social media is all about, right?

Content Note: This post has been enabled by Telecom NZ , but the thoughts are the blogger's own. Find out more about the Nokia Lumia 920 here you can find our more about Windows 8 on the Telecom Network here. Scoop TechLab is a project of Scoop Independent Media www.scoop.co.nz. It is edited by Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson.

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