Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Google's Loose Contact Problem

The biggest advantage of using an Android phone according to me is the way it syncs all my Google contacts on to my phone address book as soon as I activate the phone. Its not all. The moment I activate the Facebook app on Android, my contacts become richer as it adds pictures, status updates and birthdays to them. Its amazing coz none of those frills are information that I had to creat. They are all created and maintained by my contacts on their Facebook profile which just came into my phone with just a Facebook login. Not done yet. They all get updated on my phone automatically when they are changed at their end so that I always have up to date info. Any changes I do on my phone gets synced back into the Google contacts automatically so that all the data is always on the cloud and secure and vice versa. All's well.

Even though the Facebook information which automatically makes my phone contacts rich and up to date is created and maintained by my friends, my primary phone/Google contacts are created and maintained by myself. It was super cool to start with but soon I understood the limitations of it. Google contacts are not shared profile information of my friends that is maintained at their end. So its me who has to update the contacts when their phone number or address got changed. This is bad.

This happened coz when I started using Gmail, Google was not into social networking. When I added my friends on Google talk, their profiles were not shared with me with the info that they chose to be made available to me. When I added a user on Google Talk, a corresponding entry got added in my Gmail contacts into which I later added more information. I also added other contacts who are not on my Google Talk. I dont even know if Google had a user profile then. Hell how many of us know that we have one today? Oh yeah Orkut. I had a profile there. What happened to that? Does anyone know?

As Google introduced Buzz, its official foray into social network, it also introduced a user profile page on which I could share some information and status updates (Buzz). But again the page is not integrated into other Google services. The information I've shared there doesn't reflect on Gmail contacts or on Android. Its just one more profile page along with my Orkut and Blogger profiles.

Its high time someone in Google looked at this problem and fix it. As Android is growing and is being adopted widely, fixing the "loose contact" problem would give it a big advantage over any other mobile platform. It'll give one good reason for people to be on Android and not move out of it. The same reason why people refused to come out of Twitter and go for similar services like Jaiku and Pownce. They just didn't want to lose the contacts they had already built.

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