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Smartr Contacts

Sometime in the past five years, the Address Book got social. Our contact cards suddenly gained Twitter handles and Facebook links, whilst users more oriented towards business relationships decided to add their LinkedIn pages alongside standard phone numbers and email addresses. More importantly, the Address Book became mobile: adding a new entry to the Contacts app on our iPhones pretty much equals to exchanging business cards now and, unsurprisingly, a new category of apps has arisen from the need of turning old cards into digital reinterpretations of that paper stack full of contacts we’d keep on our desk, but never properly organize.

From this premise, Xobni (that’s Inbox spelled backwards), makers of a popular email plugin for Outlook and Gmail, released Smartr for iPhone a few weeks ago on the App Store. Developed as a mobile companion to Xobni on the desktop, Smartr leverages all the features made possible by a digital interface (search, social integration, slick design, APIs) to provide you with a social address book that’s always up to date and keeps tracks of your communication with friends, family, and work contacts over time. It is very smart indeed.

Smartr basically creates rich profiles for all your contacts, aggregating data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and email to form a complete overview of someone you might have communicated with in the past. In pulling this data from various social networks, Smartr uses its proprietary matching technology (the “Xobni Cloud”) to analyze and compare your contacts (from your Address Book, an interesting subject following Path’s recent PR fiasco) against conversation history from email (Gmail is fully supported), usernames from Twitter and Facebook, status updates, and so forth. Once a contact is matched, a rich profile view is created featuring name, photo, phone number, and email addresses. Smartr even allows you to swipe across the top section of a profile view to switch between a person’s various social profiles, which upon tap will correctly launch the official Twitter and Facebook apps (if installed).

But what to do with these rich, automatic and integrated profiles? Well, Smartr is largely focused on search, unlike, say, a tool like Friends that’s more geared towards interacting with people from your Address Book found on other social networks. Smartr’s prominent interface element is, in fact, a search box that lets you look up contacts by name, company, title, or email. I wish the app supported @username-based look-ups, as I might remember exchanging a message or two with @hrbrt, but I can’t recall his full name from further email communications. Smartr is fast: Searching more than 6,000 contacts on my iPhone takes seconds and the information is always up to date, as Smartr is also web-based in that Xobni’s servers are constantly analyzing and matching your contacts to provide the best results. You can read more about Xobni’s privacy policy here.

Once you’ve found a contact (I managed to retrieve contact information and conversation history from messages dating back to 2008), you can interact with the profile view to compose new emails, call a phone number, or send a new message. The History tab in the top toolbar will give you access to a nicely designed graph showing how many times you’ve appeared in a conversation with a contact, with the actual messages listed below and available for inline viewing if the associated email address is also configured in Smartr (the app will use the standard iOS mail view to enable this). The third tab, Common, shows a list of common contacts between you and the contact you previously looked up.

Smartr is very fast, reliably accurate, and has proven to be a nice addition to my workflow, especially for those times I want to look up an old contact (typically developers) that I want to get in touch with again. I wouldn’t mind paying for Smartr, but the app is free, and available on the App Store. If mail integration is your thing, make sure to check out Xobni’s popular Gmail plugin as well.

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