In an age where a "contact" is more than a mere phone number and email address, contact management has become a tedious process. So, I was pleased to see Google taking a step in the right direction with ICS and updating the contact manager into the new and improved "People" app. During the ICS live blog Hugo Barra, Product Management Director for Android at Google, demoed the new People app by showing off how it seamlessly integrated all the contact's basic information together with the person's different social profiles.

The user interface has also been completely revamped and viewing contacts has now become a much more visual experience. The People app will pull high-resolution images of all your contacts straight from their Google+ account and display them in the contact list and in the in-call background. It seems that there is now yet another incentive to move your social circle over to Google+.

10-18-2011 7-50-36 PM 10-18-2011 7-53-15 PM

My only issue with the new People app is that the focus is on having high-quality images for your contacts. Indeed without these images, some of the screens may look oddly empty. For example, imagine the following frequently contacted list if your contacts did not have high-quality photos:

10-18-2011 7-53-29 PM

According to the API Overview of ICS when a new photo is pushed to a contact, "the system processes it into both a 96x96 thumbnail (as it has previously) and a 256x256 "display photo" that's stored in a new file-based photo store".

In addition to the visual improvements, ICS seems to have taken a page out of Windows Phone 7 as it now allows you to swipe between the contact list, contact groups, and your most frequently contacted users.

There are also in-call improvements as you are now able to send canned responses instead of answering your phone. There were many apps in the Market that allowed you to do this, but it's nice to have the feature built-in.

Finally, your contacts information is now available to you no matter which app you are in. So, for example if you are in Gmail, viewing an email from your contact, you can click on their image to reply to the contact through any available channel, including through SMS, social networks, or via IM.

10-18-2011 7-39-27 PM

The UI improvements and the seamless integration of all your contacts' information should make finding and contacting your "People" that much easier.