Google just released a preview of its new Contacts experience, which comes across as a major upgrade right off the bat, unlike other recent next-generation email-related offerings from the company.
As Google says, the new experience makes it easier for you to keep track of the people you know and get the info you need, fast. A quick click on the preview link pretty much confirmed that for me. Whereas in the past, my Contacts have always been kind of a jumbled mess comprised largely of people I rarely interact with, the new experience puts the people I actually know and care about front and center, and with virtually no effort on my part.
The new Contacts puts together all your contacts, circles, and the people you talk to most in Gmail.
It also includes a re-tooled "find duplicates" feature to make weeding those out easier.
"As the people you know change jobs, cities, and names, it can be tough to stay up to date with their latest information," says product manager Sean Purcell. "The new Contacts ensures that the info you see is still accurate and ready to use by blending your contact’s Google profile information with the stuff you already have."
The product will also now show you your most recent emails and meetings with a person right in their contact card. This could be tremendously helpful for recalling who people even are, and what your relationship with them was even based on in the first place. For people who do a lot of emailing that's a pretty great feature. This doesn't actually appear to be working for all contacts for me at the moment, but this is only a preview.
Google says you can expect to find the preview in Gmail sometime in the next few weeks, but you can take a look here in the meantime. It's not available for Google Apps customers yet, but it will be eventually.
In some ways, the new Contacts experience follows a similar path as Inbox by Google, the company's latest attempt at rethinking email. Like Inbox, Contacts is making better use of Google's various offerings and putting them together to make the product more useful. In my opinion, Contacts is a more practical attempt at this. It's certainly not as radical a change as Inbox is compared to the familiar Gmail experience, though both do have their helpful traits.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think the new Contacts will be much easier to swallow for the masses of Gmail users than Inbox necessarily will be. Granted, there are quite a few people who do think Inbox is an improvement to the Gmail experience.
Images via Google