iOS Contacts concept Frank Costa 001

I’m very displeased and unhappy (and I’m putting it mildly) that innovation in the iOS Contacts department has stalled out.

Argue as much as you want, but there’s no denying that integration of contacts in Apple’s mobile software is a convoluted mess, one that lacks consistency and completely eschews any reasonable expectations of a unified communications solution.

Product designer Frank Costa felt the same way so he went about creating a smart concept that tries to reimagine the address book experience on iOS, by envisioning an Invisible Address Book of sorts.

The ideas he proposes are quite intriguing. His Medium post, for example, describes profile pictures of frequently accessed contacts right in Spotlight for effortless one-tap interactions. From there, a list of apps that use your address book would be one swipe away, along with a handy log of your interactions with a friend.

As shown above, pulling down on any Home screen to invoke Spotlight would now produce a list of the people you talk to frequently. A simple tap on Spotlight’s search field at the top would bring up the keyboard allowing you to search your iPhone instead.

Next, friends as bundles of apps.

iOS Contacts concept Frank Costa 003

Tapping on a friend’s face in Spotlight would take you to a list of apps that have recently interacted with that contact. The usual contact details are still available, requiring an additional tap on a friend’s profile image at the top.

The benefits of associating your contacts with the social services you use to contact them like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Twitter are evidently self-explanatory.

Finally, Costa is throwing a cherry on top with a log of the user’s communications with any given contact.

iOS Contacts concept Frank Costa 004

In his mind, a people centric Notification Center would serve up a history of communications you’ve had with that person based on apps you’ve used to interact with them. As illustrated above, you’d be informed of individual interactions via standard notifications, with a finer granularity on a per-app basis.

“Meaning, when I‘d want to easily find that email or that Instagram mention from last week, this would be the place,” he wrote.

iOS Contacts concept Frank Costa 002

Admittedly, pulling it off would require a much deeper integration of social services with iOS that would need to go beyond any current custom field in the Contacts app for stuff like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and other social profiles.

I’m not sure if such thorough rethinking of iOS Contacts would be feasible without new APIs developers would depend upon in order to create messaging experiences (and I suspect developers like Facebook would never play ball).

If webOS has taught us anything, it’s that rich integration of contacts and social interactions on the OS level can yield powerful benefits and help turn those big ideas of unified communications into a reality.

At any rate, I don’t think anyone would disagree that iOS’s implementation of contacts management leaves a lot to be desired.

What are your gripes with contacts in iOS?

Source: Medium

  • IMHO Apple shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. The Contacts app may be outdated but it’s easy to use and works well.

    • QuarterSwede

      It’s never been great. For instance, you still, 8 versions later, can’t add new Groups.

      • nonchalont

        Maybe a JB tweak for that? If not, should be created.

      • Not on the device itself, but on the iCloud website you can 🙂

      • QuarterSwede

        Not on an iDevice you can’t. If you’re in a computer you may as well use the native contacts app to add a group.

      • Naqiuddin Ihsan Amj

        True. But if you need alternative(s), you can create Group via the iCloud or via an app. Not the best solution(s) but yeah.

    • Elias Chao

      I’ve always thought that there are too many steps to delete a contact, shouldn’t be that way IMO.

      • John

        I have never noticed, but it’s three taps rather then a hold and swipe right…and tap (like pretty much every every App with a list view in iOS)

        Actually, this is the same gripe I have with the alarms, come to think of it.

  • Linton Findlay

    Looks pretty cool. Contacts app is fairly useless considering you have access them all in the phone app, or FaceTime app on iPad, and further still get all the info you might need from the ios8 messaging app

  • Marcus

    I’m not hoping for much in iOS 9. I’d like if it was primarily bug fixes and fixes to make iOS faster and more smooth. It would be nice if they could get rid of all of the glitches with Continuity & iCloud. As far as features go, a new Contacts app and possibly an even better Messages app would be nice.

  • Eri

    I have asked for this tweak long ago but no one made the effort to make it. Hope someone will do it now that is “an innovation”.

  • ARX8

    Apple doesn’t give a damn
    They like ancient stuff

  • Alberto Espinal

    Someone should make a tweak that uses notifications by individual contacts, for ex: if you have notifications turned on for messages, it doesn’t matter who text you the notification is gonna come through, so what if you can pick who you allow to have the notifications, for example I pick only 5 of my contacts for the notifications to come through and the rest will not, sometimes people including me don’t like certain contacts messages popping up, can anyone make that tweak?

  • artcomments

    As much as I like Apple, it’s mind boggling that they’ve never had a decent method for handling contacts. Over 15 years and many Computers iPads & iPhones later

  • Ew

    WTF? I don’t want other people beign able to see which apps i recently used like that. fkn stalker shiit.

    • RayRayBeav

      You’d have to invoke it through Spotlight, which requires your phone to be unlocked already.

  • BozzyB

    Looks a little like an app called contacts+ on android.

    • JoshuaHulgan

      It’s on iOS as well

  • I think the stock contacts app should have long ago been replaced with something like ContactsXL…Eitherway, at least you can create contact groups (with other apps) without requiring some online account, not the case with the stock Android app as far as I know. You require an online account to create contact groups…that’s how desperate Google is to steal your data. For now, just syncing with my iCloud contacts (via CardDav) until I have the time to build my OwnCloud server.

  • jack

    most of us don’t have pics for most contacts

  • moofer

    Are you kidding me? I can find a contact in my list of thousands in seconds. Less, actually. This eyesore would take me forever to swipe through to find anything. I don’t need more sh%t looking like Facebook.

    • Wolfer

      Yes u are right, but u can do the same into the phone app, from the contact tab; the same into facetime, and in messages you just write the part of the name in the area for the send to, and u will find ur contact too, in a second or less too.

  • Fanboy 

    *starts refreshing Cydia*

    • If someone were to build it, it would take a really really long time to build.