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FullContact launches a better alternative to your Mac’s built-in Contacts app

TechCrunch TechCrunch 26/05/2016 Sarah Perez

Managing a large database of contacts can get messy, which is why a number of startups over the years have attempted to tackle this space with a wide variety of apps that attempt to streamline the process of keeping contact information up-to-date, while also offering other tools to clean up your contacts, organize them, and more. One company that has carved out a solid niche in contact management is FullContact, which already offers a number of apps across the web and mobile devices. Today, it’s launching a fully native application for the Mac desktop, as well.

FullContact currently offers a good handful of address book applications, including those aimed at professional users – like its app for teams – along with developer tools for integrating contact management features into third-party apps.

However, its own suite of apps is now used by around 1 million users, a few percentage of whom have converted to paying customers.

Today, there are a number of solutions for managing address books on Mac, but many of those you’ll find in Mac App Store are focused on utilitarian functions – like de-duplicating your contacts database, exporting contacts, syncing contacts with other services, and so on.

FullContact for Mac, meanwhile, is focused on being a more functional alternative to the default Contacts app, which includes all those above features and more.

The app was developed in part by the team from Cobook, a scrappy contacts app startup originally out of Latvia which grew to a million-plus users before being acquired by FullContact in 2014. 

The original Cobook Mac app, which lived in the menu bar, was well-loved prior to this acquisition, but it hadn’t been updated since last May. In addition, users have spammed it with negative reviews on the Mac App Store as it had to remove popular features like its Facebook and LinkedIn integration, due to API shutdowns from both those companies.

The new FullContact app, however, lets you connect with Google, iCloud, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft Exchange / Office 365, Foursquare, and Xing.

However, this functionality is only available to premium users at $9.99 per month (or $99.99 per year). To sync with more than one account, you have to upgrade. That’s not super cheap of course, but for those with a serious need for contact management tools, it could be worthwhile as upgraded users can also scan business cards by adding iPhone photos to the app and capture address info from email signatures.

Without upgrading, the app allows you to backup your contacts in the cloud; sync them across services and all your devices; and organize them by tagging them, adding notes, merging duplicates. It also automatically updates your contacts with photos, social profiles, job titles, locations and more pulled from the web.

“We have developed a fairly complex technology that scans the web – not unsimilar to Google – and finds people’s public profiles,” explains Kaspars Dancis, Cobook’s founder and now Head of Engineering at FullContact, about this functionality.

You can also share your contacts via Mail, Airdrop, Messages, and more, as well as kick off other services from within the app – like starting a call, sending an email, or loading Google Maps, for example.

Prior to its Mac App Store public launch, FullContact for Mac was in beta testing with around 2,000 users.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem they worked all the kinks out yet. When clicking into the accounts sections (“Address Books”) under the app’s Preferences, the “upgrade” pop-up window gets stuck and wouldn’t go away, some of the buttons on the upgrade screen were unlabeled, and the “Maybe Later” dismal button didn’t successfully close the window. It’s unclear if my system is just being glitchy here, or if FullContact still has bugs to squash.

However, the app itself worked as promised – it found hundreds of dupes and thousands of updates for my disaster of a contact list, and was otherwise quick and easy to use.

The app is a free download on the Mac App Store.

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