Slowly but surely, Chrome is filling in the remaining functionality gaps between native and web-based applications. The recent Chrome 76 update gave web apps the ability send files to (and receive files from) native Android apps, and now sites will get another feature native applications have had for years — selecting contacts from your device.
There has never been a way for web apps to import contacts stored on your device, though obvious privacy concerns probably had something to do with that. Chrome 77 addresses this with a new Contact Picker API, which allows web apps to bring up a screen where you can select contacts. When you tap 'Done,' the site can access whatever contacts you selected.
Thankfully, there are a number of privacy and security barriers put in place to prevent malicious behavior. If you don't want to share all the info in a contact, the values can be unselected from the top of the picker. For example, disabling 'Phone numbers' will only send the name and email to the site. The only values that web apps can request (for now) are the name, phone number, and email address — the photo and other data isn't shared at all.
Google says this functionality could be useful for web-based email clients, VoIP services, social networks, and other experiences that rely on obtaining contact information. It's definitely a nice addition, especially since you can pick the exact data that gets sent.
The contact picker is an Origin Trial in Chrome 77 and above, so you'll need Chrome Dev or Canary on Android to try it out (Chrome Beta on Android hasn't moved up to v77 yet). You'll also need to enable the #enable-experimental-web-platform-features flag in chrome://flags to try it out, and a demo is available here.
- Google Developers