Mobility

Manage your Windows Phone 8 contacts with Groups and Rooms

Jack Wallen explains how to easily communicate with collected groups of people on your Windows Phone 8 with the Groups and Rooms features.

If you're a Windows Phone 8 user, you know Microsoft has done everything they can to make the phone user-friendly. In certain instances, they've also managed to make the phone a fairly efficient device. That's the case with the contacts.

Windows Phone 8 expands and improves the concept of groups from Windows Phone 7. There are now two ways to combine contacts together:

  • Groups
  • Rooms

Each serves a very different purpose and helps to make communication much more efficient. I want to help you understand and manage these features. Let's take a look at them one at a time.

Groups

Windows Phone 8 Groups allow you to join contacts together so you can more easily follow their social networking status updates, plus easily text, email, or IM a group at once. Having the ability to quickly text an entire department with one fell swoop makes perfect sense in a business environment.

Here's how you create a Group:

  1. Swipe the home screen to the left
  2. Tap People
  3. Swipe to the right (to the "together" section, as seen in Figure A)
  4. Tap the plus sign [+]
  5. Select Group
  6. Give the group a name
  7. Tap the Save button
Figure A

The Verizon-branded HTC Windows Phone 8.

Now, all you have to do is add people to the group. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open People
  2. Slide to the left
  3. Tap the newly created group
  4. Tap the Members button
  5. Tap the plus sign [+]
  6. Scroll through your contacts and add users
  7. Once you've added all the users, tap the check button to finish

When you open the group, you'll be able to quickly send an email, text, or IM. What you can send will depend on what information you have for your contacts. For example: If you only have email addresses for the contacts in the group, you'll only be able to send an email to the group. If you have email and phone numbers, you'll be able to send either email or text messages.

You can also pin a group to the home screen by tapping the Pin button on the groups page (Figure B). Figure B

Tap the menu button (three dots), and you can rename or delete the group.

Rooms

Rooms are different from groups. However, they allow you to combine people together for a singular purpose -- sharing information. With Rooms you can:

  • Chat: Every member of the room sees the chat
  • Shared Calender: Every member of the room can view/update the room's shared calendar
  • Shared Photo Album: Every member of the room can view/update the room's photo album
  • Shared Notes: Easily share OneNote notes with every member of the room

The one caveat to Rooms is that Group Chat only works with Windows Phone 8 devices. Another caveat is that users need to have a live.com account.

Note: For Android users to join in on the Shared Calendar, install the free Hotmail app and sign in with your Windows Live email address. To access the shared photos, install the free SkyDrive app and sign in with your Windows Live email address. To access shared notes, install the free OneNote Mobile app and sign in with your Microsoft account.

You create Rooms in the same way you create a Group (only you select Room instead of Group). Once you've created the Room, by default, you'll be the only member. To add a member to the Room, you open the Room and then tap the plus sign [+].  Scroll to locate the user and tap them. A text message will be sent to the user that includes a link for them to tap. Once they've tapped the link, it will open in their default browser, and then they'll need to tap the Join Room link.

From the Room default screen, you simply slide to the right or left to access the various features (Figure C). In each section, you can add or configure that particular option. Figure C

Here you see the shared calendar section of a new Room.

If you're looking for a great way to communicate with collected groups of people on your Windows Phone 8, look no further than Groups and Rooms. By making use of these two features, communication with departments, family, friends, etc. will be far more efficient.

What Windows Phone 8 features do you find most impressive? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

1 comments
davegart
davegart

just discovered the "attach my location" feature built into the text functionality ...love that! Also like the live tiles ...esp for apps like "my stocks" where you get real time updates right on my homescreen

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