18
Oct
10-18-2011 7-53-15 PM
Last Updated: August 1st, 2012

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.

Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • http://www.weblogku.com Azam

    Really nice improvement. Can't wait to test it out myself...

  • Abdulelah

    Sweeeeeeeeeeeet :D

  • fater02

    Are you kidding me? Google ripped off the ENTIRE idea of having integrated social networking in the People hub from Windows Phone. They didn't even bother to change the name.

    • Peter F

      Very true,
      They also took very large fonts and the always visible context menu strip at the bottom of the screen. They're all great features, though.

      Hopefully they also took Windows Phone's fluidity, too. I'm currently using a WP (Dell Venue Pro) and it's much nicer than Gingerbread on my Desire Z.

  • Matt

    fater02, I'm pretty sure Google has had Facebook/Gmail/Twitter in the Contacts app since before windows phone was even released.

  • Wam31

    "[...] 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."

    That's a bummer. No thanks... I'm gonna have to use Droidwall on this one. I'm really tired of the "social networks" integrations.

    "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+."

    Again, NO ! I really hope we'll have control over this.

    • Peter F

      Obviously you can turn off G+ sync.

  • Chuck

    I sure hope they haven't so Facebook'd and Tweeted the Contacts application to the point where I can no longer use it for business.

    I need a solid contact database and manager. I could care less about a watermark of someone's face on the screen.

    • http://www.abhiroopbasu.com Abhiroop Basu

      You know I agree with you, but at the same time the average consumer wants something "pretty".

      • Chuck

        Iphone and Android are not all that different then on where they are headed. They are both for the pretty/ entertainment market.

        Maybe there is room for Blackberry after all. Business still needs mobility.

    • augustofretes

      Google isn't going to prioritize your niche needs, I'm sure there will be plenty of contacts apps on the Market that will suit you.

  • JimJam

    I hope this will pull in info from FB like the profile pics ad such cos I think I have maybe 1 person on Google+ ad there's no way my social circle will move over to G+

  • Roman

    OK.......how do i upload my contacts to the ICS android Tablet?

  • steve

    just throwing this out, they split "contacts" into "people" and "phone"... why not put people, groups, recent, favorite, and dialer all in one? why do i need favorites under both of these? stupid upgrade for this app, not to mention the gay looking text messaging symbol now when before it looked like an actually text messaging symbol. i like most things about ics, but was disappointed they downgraded some things as well.

  • TheMaTrIx

    What I find annoying with People is that it doesn't combine contacts like HTC's contacts app does. It should be trivial to add that functionality to the app and I hope Google hurries in doing so.

    This becomes especially annoying when you have several gmail addresses, Skype and do the same as me and add certain numbers like Callcenter spammers under one name, yet the contacts list still separates them in a load of separate contacts.

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