My Ongoing Contact Management Challenges

If you’re like me, you’ve got friends all over the electronic landscape: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, you name it. Which means all of those are potentially also “contacts.” And, of course, you’ve got your real contacts — those people that would normally be in your Rolodex, if we still used such carbon-based approaches to managing contacts.

Instead, we use electronic contact lists. Outlook has an address book, as does almost every other mail program. The operating system itself might have one, as does our phone, and our tablet, and our work computer, and our home computer, and and and and.

And keeping them all in sync is a nightmare.

For a while, I had found the answer: Memotoo. Memotoo is one of the coolest tools I know. It exists to do one thing well: sync. It syncs your various contact lists into its own contact database, then syncs that whole thing to Google Contacts (and back). It will also do the same with multiple calendars, task lists, browser bookmarks, and other stuff. But I only used it for contacts, and for that it was perfect.

Essentially, it worked like this:

  • It would PULL data from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other sources, into its own master list. As it did so, it would look for duplicates, and combine various records into single ones with all the data from all the sources.
  • It would also SYNC BACK with Google contacts.
  • I then set my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad to use Memotoo as their contact list.

Any change I made on any of my devices would sync back with Memotoo, and propogate to everything else. Finally, contacts kept current!

And then Facebook broke everything.

In April, Facebook changed their API such that outside apps could not get your friends’ data unless your friends ALSO used the same app. This broke Memotoo, and Cobook, and Full Contact, and a bunch of other contact management apps.

So, I started looking around. Here’s where things stand at the moment.

  • I’m taking a look at a new app called CircleBack. It looks, on the surface, to be similar to Memotoo, but without as much functionality. Based on their web site, I thought they had figured out a way around the Facebook problem; but today, I got an email from their VP of Consumer Products, Andy Cohn (a very thorough and helpful email, by the way), and they are relying on the sync of the Facebook app on your iPhone to the contact list on your iPhone to sync in the Facebook contacts. So, even though I like their app overall, they haven’t solved the FB dilemma.
  • This then got me to thinking — can I do the same thing with Memotoo? Can I use my phone to sync Facebook to Memotoo? I tried it, and apparently the iPhone contact app keeps the FB contacts separate from everything else. So, the answer appears to be No.

I’m going to try the CircleBack system and see if it works for me. If not, I’m at a loss. I really want one contact list that is the “source of truth” list, and not three or four.

I’ll keep you posted.

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How about you? How are you keeping your contacts straight?