CoBook Contacts review

Cobook Contacts is an address book app for OS X and iOS that gathers information from a variety of sources. It connects to your Mac’s built-in address book, but can also be connected to Google Mail, Twitter, Facebook and iCloud for free.

?Taken purely as an address book, Cobook is wonderfully clean and intuitive to use. There are only two windows to deal with – a list of contacts and a pop-up pane with contact details.

The contact list has a search box at the top that helps you to scour it for tags and names. This makes it easy to find individuals or groups you’ve previously created in other contact managers.

By default, Cobook installs as a menu item on OS X although you can unpin it and run it like any regular app if you prefer. It sucks all the contacts from your local address book on installation, and your iCloud contacts if you have other Apple devices.

See also: Mac software reviews

Editing contact details is quick and easy. With a contact open, you toggle the Edit icon and can then add or edit fields with a number of previously hidden, suggested slots appearing. That’s one of the nice UI decisions Cobook’s devs appear to have made – if the date isn’t there, you don’t see an empty slot when you’re viewing a contact.

And so to connectivity with other services, Cobook’s main strength. At first launch you’re prompted to hook Cobook up to a series of cloud services. You can connect Facebook, Twitter and Gmail for free. There are in-app purchases for a few other services too, including Foursquare, Instagram and LinkedIn. We opted to add the latter for £1.99.

The result is a consolidated address book with information pulled from a variety of services. Cobook does its best to avoid duplication, but it’s inevitable when there are so many ways of representing data.

It’s very easy to remove duplicates yourself though. When you find multiple entries for one contact, Cmd-click to select them all and merge. You can then sync the edited entry back to your devices and the address book it originated from.

When you begin to include social media services in your contact book, it becomes transparent pretty fast just how much we share with these sites. Cobook lists people’s cultural tastes, birth dates and familial relationships right next to their email addresses and phone numbers. Yes, it’s intuitive – but it’s also very powerful.

[Technical editor’s note: Cobook will collect and store all your contacts’ personal details from all your address books. It also collects information about your computer and your smartphone, your locations where you use them, including your IP address.

This information is shared with Cobook employees, contractors and other organisations with which it works. Cobook offers no assurance of security of your data that it shares with other parties, and all your personal data and that of people in your address books will also be sold when the company is bought by another business or goes bankrupt.

‘When using Cobook, you agree to our collection, transfer, processing, storage, disclosure and other uses of your information’

See more here.]

It’s an interesting time to look at Cobook, because the Latvian developer has recently been acquired by Denver-based rival FullContact. The latter makes address-book software too – a cloud-based consolidated contacts service.

Though there are similar features in the two products, Cobook is the stronger app. It has better connectivity to external services, handles duplication and consolidation more elegantly, runs as an app on iOS devices and has a simpler, more intuitive interface.

It’ll be interesting to see how the two products integrate over the coming months.

OUR VERDICT

This reviewer thinks that Cobook gets the balance between free and in-app purchasing just about right. It’s an approach that helps you to tailor the app to suit your needs. Cobook and FullContact have both said the app will continue in its current form for some time. For anyone who doesn’t value their privacy too highly, nor that of all their friends and contacts, you can give your address books a thorough spring clean with Cobook Contacts.

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