Connected Launch and Fixing Contact Management
Between LinkedIn, my phone, Facebook, email and business cards, I have over 2,000 contacts. The people behind that data fall into three distinct categories: Those with whom I have an active, current work, play or family relationship, people I don’t want to lose touch with, and people who I used to communicate with years ago, but are pretty irrelevant to me now.
Sorting through the lists, maintaining the data, organizing it in ways that make sense, and seeing new relationships that I didn’t expect is a huge freaking hassle. Just last weekend I spent over three hours getting my laptop, my GMail account and my phone free of irrelevant contacts and synching together. I shouldn’t have wasted the time. Instead, all I had to do was procrastinate three more days, wait for Connected to launch (www.connectedhq.com), plug all my accounts into it, and let it do the sorting.
Slightly scary, I know, but I’m here to tell you it’s very worthwhile. Connected takes your contacts from the major social networks and communications mediums, parses them all into a clean and simple interface, and then displays your contact lists in ways that make sense. Here’s my “Recent Contacts” list:
I can star, tag, merge, manually add contacts, all that normal stuff. But here Connected gives me a way to very easily get to the information of people I’m actively talking with. If I had waited, and just let Connected clean up my contacts list, I wouldn’t have deleted anyone’s information. I just wouldn’t have had to see them listed in an alphabetical list! Here’s what Connected looks like when I select a person:
Connected has the standard PIM features (add birthdays, notes, etc.) plus Reminders, which seem like they recall the contact person to you after the set amount of time. But Connected also lists your mutual contacts (via LinkedIn) and all recent messages with that person, whether by email, Twitter, or other means. I can read the message just by clicking the link. Connected has either imported my entire email folder into their database, or they’re making pretty fast IMAP calls to my Gmail account and getting the requested message. In either case, it works seemlessly. I can also send emails from this screen. I’ll let you know in the comments whether the email is sent via their server or via GMail. Here’s the company view:
This list illustrates the aspect of Connected that I’m most excited about. These companies are sorted by number of employees that I know there. My contact lists are sorted by who I talked with most recently. These are the types of relevant associations that make a contact list both easier to use and much more meaningful. You can imagine all kinds of other helpful filters here: People by frequency of contact, people by number of common contacts, company by responsiveness, company by opportunity, and much more. By combining the data from Company and Contact, Connected lays the ground for revealing interesting relationships that the user might have missed before.
Some will say that Connected is just like Gist, or it has some of the same features as Xobni, but I don’t think so. Connected is more like a 21st century address book. It knows more than the data you’ve entered into it, and it’s not an addon to an existing interface. Because it takes the bold step away from the current apps you are using, it gains the power to create a truly valuable user experience. If the team keeps innovating on views and data sources, and adds support for syncing to external devices, Connected could change the way we manage our contacts.