Smartphones

Nirvana for contacts: Contacts+

Take a look at Contacts+, an Android application that helps bridge the gap between phone, messaging, and social networking.
Contacts+

The Android platform is an amazing playground for geeks who like to tinker. With it, you can do nearly anything. Even the default applications tend to be highly customizable. But sometimes an app comes along that adds even more customizations. One such app is Contacts+, an all-in-one contact manager that seamlessly bridges the gap between phone, messaging, and social networking.

Features

Here are some Contact+ features:

  • Integrated dialer, call log, and messages list
  • Groups and favorites contacts display
  • Grid / List contacts view
  • Smart contacts prioritization by frequency or recent
  • Integrated text messaging
  • View contact message history
  • Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare integration
  • Navigate to your contacts addresses from their profiles
  • Pictures and birthdays sync with Facebook and Google+ (plus reminders)
  • Merge duplicate contacts (supports most devices)
  • Fast T9 & Gesture search by names, numbers, emails, and company

What's really nice about Contacts+ is that you can do so much from within a single, well-designed interface. You can gain quick access to the following contact information:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Maps
  • Messaging
  • Phone

For any power user, Contacts+ is a real champ of an app that can make contacting users quick and easy. It's free and doesn't interfere, in any way, with the built-in Android Contacts application. Let's install and learn how to use Contacts+.

Installation

The installation is quite simple:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "contacts+" (no quotes)
  3. Tap the entry for Contacts+
  4. Tap Install
  5. Tap Accept

Once the installation is completed, you'll find the launcher in your app drawer or, depending upon your interface, on the home screen. Tap that launcher to begin using Contacts+. You'll be greeted by a simple guide that you can either walk through or dismiss.

Usage

Contacts+ automatically imports all of the contacts from your phone -- this means every contact you have (including Facebook, Twitter, etc). This is the default behavior, similar to that of the built-in Contacts application.

One of the first things you might want to take care of is specifying what contacts Contacts+ should display. One of the best options Contacts+ offers is the ability to display only contacts with associated phone numbers. To set this option, follow these steps:

  1. Open Contacts+
  2. Tap the menu button
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap General
  5. Tap "Only contacts with phones" under Contacts View
  6. Tap the back button to return to the Contacts+ main window

At this point, the only contacts that will show up are the ones with a phone number.

Another great feature of Contacts+ is the ability to join contacts together. Effectively, you can link related contacts together (such as departments, work, family, etc). When you do join contacts together, only the primary contact will appear in the Contacts+ listing. Also note that when you join contacts together, the contacts merged into the primary are not listed by name within the primary contact -- only by phone number and email address. So, if you don't know the name associated with a phone number or email address, you could get lost.

To join contacts, do the following:

  1. Open up the primary contact (the contact you're going to add other contacts into)
  2. Tap the menu button
  3. Tap Join Contact
  4. Search for the contact to be joined
  5. Tap target contact
  6. Wait for the contact to be joined (you'll receive a message)

If you need to join more contacts to the primary, repeat the process until complete.

To gain quick access to the various social networking (and information) sites associated with a contact, all you have to do is open up a contact and swipe the screen to the right. A sidebar will appear (Figure A) with buttons for various sites and services. Tap one of the buttons to open up that site or service. If you haven't authenticated with that site, you'll be prompted to do so.

Figure A

Contacts+ running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III.

Contacts+ running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III.

Another nice feature of Contacts+ is the ability to quickly filter the call log. You can filter:

  • All calls
  • Missed calls
  • Incoming calls
  • Outgoing calls

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open up Contacts+
  2. Tap on the Call tab (far right tab)
  3. Tap the All Calls drop-down
  4. Select the type of call you want to view

If you're looking for a sort of kitchen sink contact app for your Android smartphone, don't overlook Contacts+. Not only does it do a fine job of either replacing the default Contacts app (if you're not happy with the default) or supplementing it (if you like the default but feel it needs a bit more in the way of features). Contacts+ has become my go-to means of working with the multitude of contacts I have on my phone.

What contacts application do you prefer on your Android smartphone? 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
jamesatlloud
jamesatlloud

Thanks for the article Jack. 

I've gone several times down the rabbit hole of contact management usually with less than satisfactory results.  I think the biggest frustration with Android is how the device wants to merge the various sources of contact information, but not really synchronize the data.  This is a concern because in order to manage (and backup) my database of contacts I find it difficult to know if I have entered a phone number in the 'main' contact source.  Add to this the differences in field definitions for each contact database and it gets to be so confusing that in spite of having so much information, the piece I need - number, birthday or address sometimes isn't there.

My current solution is to use a third party application (Plaxo paid subscription) that synchronizes contact information between many sources and which I can access from all devices.  And still, it suffers errors when there are field definition conflicts.

I would love to see some case studies of contact management best practices.

-james