Just over a week ago Microsoft released “We’re In” for Windows Phones. To refresh your memory, it’s like Google Latitude but it’s private and limited in time so you invite friends to share your location for a determined period of time. Really neat concept and my initial impression was positive but once you start to use it you realize that it needs to be pushed ahead to really be useful.
See, We’re In is exactly as I described it and that’s its limitation. It’s a stand-alone app and it’s not an integrated app. This is contrary to the Windows Phone mantra where everything gets integrated. What’s the big deal? I’d rather just go to the People Hub and just like messaging. I can write on a friends Facebook wall from there – why not add them to We’re In? And once you look at the map that shows all of your friends it’s entirely static. You can’t message between the contacts there so it’s a one trick pony. Why not tie in text/email/phone/messaging there? I mean let me text all or call someone because I see they’re running late or just made a wrong turn. Also, while it’s displayed within Bing Maps, it’s within the app so you can’t add a layer of local attractions. And the fat that you need to tie in a mobile number and sign up is annoying. The more hurdles you place in front of this the less traction you’ll get. If a Live ID is their thing than stick with that but don’t add an extra layer of identity and expect people to jump through hoops to use your beta service.
I know this is early but the more ‘social’ they make this the better. Hell, why not lets users with a Zune Pass share the song their playing and even allow users to let other friends control the songs all friends are playing in real time like a road trip? OK that’ll take them longer to work out but it would be neat.
For now, the fact that there’s not a Mango version hurts enough. Real time tracking only works in NoDo if the app remains open and that again hits the wall sine you can’t interact with contacts otherwise. This may be because one you update an app to Mango you can’t change the NoDo version of the app which is ridiculous but may be biting Microsoft in its own ass.
For now, good first effort but it’s really not far enough yet. I hope they take this seriously and really press forward with a solid release asap. I’d love to see Microsoft take We’re In as seriously as they are Music search, Local Scout and the other Windows phone 7 integrated apps.