October 27, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Streamlined communication is the future of digital interaction. While the list of ways we communicate– calls, text, email, Facebook, Twitter – are sure to increase, there will be a need to centralize those communications. Asurion Software has joined the fray of companies looking to make the future now with its new Android app Address Book.
Address Book is a contacts-management system that cross-matches your contacts from various services known as “Mix-ins.” The app loads contacts from Amazon, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube, then auto-matches the names to create a central, detailed profile of the people you know. Users can unmatch profiles or manually pair names to get further details, and backup this information by syncing data onto Asurion’s servers. From there, users can read tweets, check status, see videos, respond to texts, and see a detailed log of interactions with others.
“I’ve seen this already with webOS, Blur, and Sense, haven’t I?” Not exactly. While the idea of streamlined communication isn’t new, Address Book gives users a great deal of control in determining how they will use this “people-centric view of relationships.” It’s not a giant social-networking stream; it’s a user-defined watchdog for various connections. Rather than worry about every detail of social networking, Address Book provides options about who and what to be notified about; only follow tweets from this group and photos from this person.
For instance, you may not care about status updates from your Facebook-obsessed sister, but you may want to know when she adds pictures to Facebook or a video to YouTube showing off her newborn. You may even want to know when your nephew updates his wish list on Amazon to help figure out what to buy him this holiday season. Clicking on a contact will bring up the relevant content you define through Mix-in auto-matches.
Address Book also features a business-friendly component that provides direct access to certain features. Aside from a Yellow Pages Mix-in for business information, Address Book features a “Smart Business Contact” feature that can locate businesses someone frequents. Adding a Smart Business Contact brings up that coffee shop or restaurant in Google Maps, allowing users to find the nearest Starbucks or Domino’s Pizza.
Asurion gave me a preview of Address Book and pointed out another potential benefit to dealing with businesses. A traveler may sometimes need to contact his airline for a number of reasons. The traditional way of solving the problem is to dial the airline’s number and navigate through its automated operator, which can often prove frustrating. Address Book has the potential to offer more than just a phone number and give shortcuts to services like flight schedule or baggage check.
I have used Address Book for my default Contacts management app for about a week now. Though I continue to use Twitter and Facebook apps for real-time interaction, I like the aggregated history of seeing people’s recent activity and catch things that I may have missed. The dialer works well and I love being able to direct call someone simply by gesturing to the right when scrolling through the contacts list. Most important of all, I haven’t experienced any adverse drains on battery life or speed. Even better, Asurion has informed me that it is working on allowing more developers to incorporate their websites and services as Mix-Ins.
Overall, Address Book is definitely something that I would recommend to other users. It should be available to Android Markets in most English-speaking countries right now. Under the “About the developer” section of in Address Book’s Android Market listing, click “View more applications” to download the Mix-Ins.