Gmail and Facebook Users: Time to Resign Yourself to Extra Contacts | webOS Nation
 
 

Gmail and Facebook Users: Time to Resign Yourself to Extra Contacts 46

by Dieter Bohn Fri, 29 May 2009 3:41 pm EDT

We know the Palm Pre and webOS will pull contacts from three sources at launch: Google, Facebook, and Exchange.  Actually, it should handle multiple Google and Exchange accounts -- hooray!  All while automatically merging duplicate contacts into a single card and keeping your sync sources "siloed" so they don't infest each other with their data.  Truly, Synergy is a wonderful system.  Except for one little thing...

As a long-time Google Contacts user, I have a piece of news that's difficult to impart: get ready for your contacts list to get unnecessarily big.  I've been using Google EAS mobile sync for multiple devices now and I can tell you: Google is aggressive at adding contact emails to your list.  Even if you cull it regularly, it becomes messy.

It gets a bit more complicated with the Pre, as we're discovering in our forums.  Turns out that the webOS syncs All Contacts instead of "My Contacts," meaning all those extra "suggested contacts" are included in your sync.  Sure, you can delete them, but it's still messy. 

Add in the fact that you can't delete Facebook contacts or choose which ones you want to sync to the Pre and you're looking at a pretty messy contacts list.  Sure - you'll have few to no duplicates and that helps, but you're also going to have your great aunt Suzie who just joined Facebook last week and let's be honest: you'll never call her.

Of course, if you're just an Exchange user you likely won't run into these sorts of hassles, congratulations.

For the rest of you Google and Facebook users, however, I have a small piece of advice: Use Universal Search to find contacts and don't let the ballooning size of your Contact's list get to you. I've basically given up on having a contacts list of only the people I think I want in there. After years of therapy, I've come to accept that there are dozens (approaching hundreds) of people in my contacts that I'll never call, email, or IM.

All of which is why type-to-find/Universal Search is an essential feature for smartphones.  Use Universal Search instead of scrolling through your contacts.  Use Universal Search and just let those extras sit in there, they're not hurting you, are they? Use Universal Search and it'll be ok, I promise.

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46 Comments

Not the end of the world. That's what universal search is there for. Question is, can you categorize your contacts on the Pre? If so, maybe you COULD easily scroll through the ones you want.

Derek Kessler's recent write-up says that the contacts will not be categorized.

Oops, yeah, just saw that.... Guess I should've read the "old" news first. :-)

Looks like I'm going to start a new Facebook account. I have way too many acquaintances. And then I'll scrub my gmail contacts, I guess.

How could we not have contact grouping? 3rd-party apps have gotta make it easy to attach contacts/groups to events and tasks.

After years of therapy, I've come to accept that there are dozens (approaching hundreds) of people in my contacts that I'll never call, email, or IM.

Funny, I have the same problem and this is before I moved to google. It's more because I'm too lazy to cleanup my contacts list though. Hopefully this means it won't bother me much on the pre.

Sounds annoying. And probably is.

This is a bit disappointing. And I'm not sure who's at fault really. Part of it is Palm, for not letting us at least manage our gmail contact groups well. And part of it is google, which I've tried to voice my opinion everywhere... adding every single damn contact I email is frustrating as hell!

I understand we live in a world of "search the name" but at least give me the choice to turn that on and off.

As for the FB issue, to be honest, if you didn't friend every single person that friended you, this wouldn't be a problem. For the rest of us, we'll just use the normal facebook app/web entry. I don't need FB in my main contact list.

Way to make it work:
"Google mobile sync" It is a free service from google that is already up and running. It makes your google calendar and contacts sync as if they were an exchange account. I have it set up with my windows mobile phone and it only syncs "my contacts" The contacts that I have personally added to google. m.google.com/sync

that's a cool link for PIM

I wonder when Pre support will exist.

Hopefully with a firmware update Palm can allow us to sync the contact lists / specific persons we want.

I rather have only "My Contacts" sync from Gmail.
And Facebook should have an application for the Pre syncing which would allow you to check/uncheck the users you want synced to the device.

People..still...scroll..?

I don't use Facebook, but yeah. On occasion.

I have a "medical" category for my contacts. I forget doctors' and facilities' names a lot, so I sometimes filter down to that category and scroll until something looks familiar.

if you type in the company name of the contact as doctor or medical then you can just search doctor or medical (which ever you have choosen) in universal search and all the connects that have that in their company name will come and then you have a kind of category section

just like that guy (InvisibleMan) did unversal search video demo on the emulator with cisco.

Exactly! I always thought something is not right when seeing people demo Pre's contacts list. It just didn't show me what my typical usage would be. They just scrolled the contacts... which was weird for me because I almost never do that.

I guess I also differ from people who try to make their contacts list as small as possible. It's the other way round with me. I like to know who's calling me before I answer. So by having even those in there I might never call, they might call me because I don't add complete strangers on my list - these are all people I know! Besides, why even worry who I might or might not ever call. Sure aunt Suzie is a pretty long shot, but it's an extreme example.

The size of my contacts list simply doesn't concern me - because I can easily filter it and always see only what I want to see... So what if my list grows a bit due to sync with FB?

But then, I always had a physical keyboard so I don't get people who can live without one... ;)

A couple comments here about Google Contacts.

1. I suspect that eventually (maybe already, we haven't seen a final release device, have we?) the Pre will shift from syncing the "All Contacts" list to the "My Contacts" list.

I've been using CompanionLink to sync Google contacts against Palm desktop. A few versions back, they synced to All Contacts, and it was a constant source of complaints in the user forum. When Google released a new API that allowed you to access specific groups, they implemented syncing just the "My Contacts". I suspect Palm either has done or will do the same. But even if they don't...

2. I've been periodically deleting everything in my "Suggested Contacts" group. And the interesting thing is, its getting to be less and less of a problem. I suspect Google remembers who you don't want in your contacts, and stops suggesting them, even if you continue to get email from them. They still keep adding totally new contacts to the list, but the magnitude of the problem has gone waaay down for me.

So use the Suggested Contacts group the way Google probably intends: every once and a while, look at it, and transfer any that actually should be remembered into My Contacts. Delete the rest. Next time your Pre syncs, the ones you deleted will be gone.

Can't offer suggestions for Facebook; not a user.

Great ideas. Thanks!

I don't really mind. For me Google Contacts is going to be the "middle man" in syncing my MobileMe contacts to the Pre. Even if I did use Gmail regularly cleaning up Suggested Contacts once in a while isn't that bad. For Facebook it would be nice to somehow select networks or create a group who I would like to sync. As long as it doesn't take up a significant amount of space on the Pre I don't mind either. Universal Search FTW.

I'm ok with having some extra contacts that I never really plan to ever call...

But here is my problem. On Facebook I play a game called Mafia Wars and in order to progress in the game you have to add more members to your mafia. So an avid player ends up adding hundreds of random people from all over the world as Facebook "friends". So it sounds like my Pre contact list will automagically include all of these people :>(
Looks like I have a decision to make....

Once they are in your Mafia, you can un-friend them and they will remain in your mob.

With Facebook, they have the Lists feature where you can group your friends into lists. It would be nice if in a future update, you could choose which lists to sync. That way I wouldn't need to sync in all the people I went to High School with who I'll never contact. Might be easier for the Pre to sync lists instead of needing to keep track of whether you want to sync each individual person.

As I stated in the thread on this topic in the forums, I would prefer to be able to limit which contacts are added, it is not a big problem. Scrolling and catagorizing as a search method is a little dated.
The keep everything and then use search paradigm works much better. I don't use folders in email anymore either.

What I think would help and would be revolutionary would be to add tagging all over the OS. What if you could tag emails, contacts, memos, todo's, websites, documents, etc with custom, searchable tags like you can do on the net? Now that would be amazing.

This is just Stupid on Palm's part. No, I take it back, it's idiotic. No matter how "easy" it is to cull contacts you don't want, GMail will keep adding more, so you need to do it constantly. The Pre is supposed to make my life easier, not give me yet another chore to do.

And no matter how easy universal search is, it will work better and faster and return fewer false hits if the list it's searching is smaller.

I'm beginning to think that Synergy is going to be a huge kludge. It really doesn't seem like Palm's thought this through at all.

I currently use Google for email only. I don't use it for contacts at all. But it appears if I want to keep using Gmail on my Pre, I'll have no choice but to add hundreds of new contacts that I'll never actually contact, or add a new task to my already overloaded schedule to clean out my contacts once a week.

Palm's gotten more than an infusion of Apple's talent. They seem to have gotten an infusion of Apple's "we know what's best for you" arrogance.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I think this is a good way to influence people to stop being facebook whores...why do people have 200-300 friends? Most people talk to maybe 10-20 of those people regularly. My facebook has just over 20 friends...why would I care about befriending every person who happened to be in my graduating class? What would I do? There would be 1 conversation with them and it would go "WOW I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! HOW HAVE YOU BEEN? ANY KIDS? WHERE DO YOU WORK?" and it just trickles down from there into a spiral of "who gives a S**T" ya know?

Same thing for emails...why have emails of people you never email..it's like people are internet pack rats. This sort of eclectic nature with information not to mention putting ourselves out there is further limiting our ability to maintain even the most minute level of privacy.

It isn't the palm's fault you have a million people you never talk to on your contacts list. I guess to reasonably assume you would only be friends with people you ARE FRIENDS WITH is just dumb in everyone else's mind.

This made me LOL. Thank you.

Another thing, why is adding your facebook contact list so important? I'm sure a facebook app will be released, along w/ the fact mobile facebook will still be there.

I don't understand all the commotion over "looks like you won't be using faebook on the pre" nonsense. You won't be using the facebook contact list, big whoop, I don't WANT to because my facebook friends aren't all people I email/call regularly.

There goes the whole synergy thing, palm kept on advertising, "you wont need to add new phone number, your facebook contacts will do that for you, if someone changes their cell, you'll have it..."

How hard would it be for palm to implement an "ignore this contact" feature? too easy, and that's why they haven't done it.

Which means a 3rd party developer will probably jump on it.

What about pulling my contacts off of my Treo 755p? I remember Palm saying there would be a way to do it but as of yet I haven't seen anything. The only thing I've found is GooSync to sync my contacts with Google but I don't really want to pay $15 for a program that I'm going to use once.

I use a 755p currently (sync to outlook). I simply exported my contacts from outlook and imported it to google. From there you can sync with the pre.

Given how much thought was put into the small details this oversight seems pretty big and really stupid. Very surprising, it encourages the kind of messiness the pre claims to help you get a handle on. "resign yourself" is a bad omen. Personally I'd prefer to have a device that I train to work the way I would like rather than the other way around. It makes me wonder what the other annoying realities are.

"Resign yourself" and "bad omen" are a bit melodramatic! If you don't want the facebook contacts in your phone, simply don't import them! If you only want certain ones, then manually input them, kinda like you have been doing all your life! Have you ever had a device that you have been able to "train" to work exactly the way you want it to? And no, the device is not training/forcing you do anything. Simply don't import the FB contacts! Don't be so dramatic!

"Annoying realities" = people who think negatively about 5% and ignore the beauty of the 95%

Um, it isn't just facebook. It is the way that they are handled with no filtering or catagories. The phone looks really amazing but I'm not interested in constantly babbling about how great the phone is - I want to know what the realities are. I'm not sure why people have to take it so seriously when someone points out what they feel is a weakness. After all, I have to say it is funny to say "don't be so dramatic" when nearly every sentence in your post ends! with! an! exclamation point!

You might want to learn how to count son. Clearly it is going to take some bold statements to slap some sense into you. You say that having extra contacts and a "messy" list is a weakness when WebOS is sorting and managing these contacts for you and eliminating duplicates, the opposite of messy, and again, NOBODY IS FORCING YOU TO IMPORT THEM! Have you ever had such a device import contacts from your outlook/FB account and marry them with your normal phonebook? NOPE. So if not, and you used to inputing contacts manually, then keep doing it that way! These are options and flexibilities, not weaknesses.

I still don't see the problem in having a 1000 person contact/phonebook list! With the keyboard and your brain and your ability to spell a few letters in their name, it will take seconds to find the person you want, you won't even know that the other people are there in the list! That's the beauty of WebOS, it is syncing with the rest of the digital world without you having to know or having to think about it.

arguably, you'll have more data to sift through (rather, that webOS has to sift through). No idea how much that really affects anything though.

I personally just am OCD w/ my lists =) that and no one I know on facebook actually puts their mobile number in so the whole "auto change" thing doesn't apply usually.

Change is hard. I think Palm is introducing a new paradigm for contacts on a phone. Similar to gmail which for a long time had no "delete" but only "archive". Why delete emails when you can hide them from view but search them instantly when you need to. We used to delete emails because our on-line storage was so small. Who remembers 25k? Google changed the game when it made search nearly instant and accurate and storage potentially infinite.

Palm is doing the same from the phone. Why delete contacts when they don't get in the way and you can search for them near instantly? Why spend the time categorizing contacts when their circumstances change all the time. If searching by company is fast (which it appears it is) let them do that for you when they update their Facebook profile. I hope Linkedin also becomes part of this feature.

Hopefully having a few thousand contacts on your phone won't slow it down. Can Palm deliver that? That is a bigger question to me.

No biggie. Someone will solve this in an app. I'll just have to be patient. I will want to categorize my contacts if for no other reason to categorize ring tones.

Can't really "solve"/change it with an app, it's a WebOS system facet of sorts. Only a firmware update will change it, if they deem it necessary... Personally I hope that they don't change it!

The irony is, all the imitation "synergy" apps for winmo/g1/iphone will actually be better than the real synergy.

I already have a lot of contacts that I never use in my Treo 755p. I add them initially so that when they get back to me, I know who's calling / texting me. I'm with the others here who already just type in a few letters of the name to find the contact in my contacts list.

I also may choose to not sync up with my facebook contacts, even though I don't friend whore. It's just not a place I ever go to get contact information, though I can imagine that, if you were using facebook for that purpose, it'd be handy. No, most of my interaction with people on facebook is through facebook, that's the point-- not through phone / email / IM.

Also, someone else mentioned "tagging" contacts. From one of the PalmPreForums.org videos of the Pre emulator, it sounds like universal search basically functions that way already. Just put those "tags" or key words somewhere in the contact's information, and when you do a search for that tag, it will bring up all the contacts with that tag in it.

It makes you wonder if the people who are complaining are the very same people Sprint are referring to as "the wrong people" for the Pre. You guys do not even have the device yet and you're already complaining.

Synergy, it turns out, isn't a real feature. It's a strategy for trying to combine all sorts of things that haven't been combined before. Not because nobody thought of it before, but because not everybody wants to combine everything like that. Especially, if you don't do it in a sophisticated way. It turns out that the Pre can not read your mind and give you only the data that you need.

I wont be surprised if you can manually remove just your contacts for gmail and facebook.. Im sure they have that figured out

One thing everyone is forgetting is that those who are giving you this information are using outdated builds of the OS (on an emulator, at that). This could have very well been changed.

WAIT UNTIL IT IS RELEASED TO MAKE ANY JUDGMENTS!

"automatically merging dupicate contacts into a single card and keeping your sync sources "siloed" so they don't infest each other with their data."

I don't care what else you say, this sentence almost mad eme cry with joy! I hate that my Q9c synced my phone contacts, gmail contacts, and exchange contacts, AND THEN PUT THEM ALL ON MY WORK CONTACTS LIST!!!! Now, I can't get them off my work contacts (where I don't need them, and wish they weren't) without deleting them off my phone (where I do need them.)

My Treo has a lot of contacts as well and it doesn't hurt anything. I guess my point would be nobody is forcing you to buy into this technology or approach from Palm. It's just one company's vision for how people will interface with the web & social networking sites. Are there more technically saavy people than others? Sure! But I'm betting Palm & Sprint are going after the millions of Facebook users who could care less about this thread's discussion. Categorizing, stripping off excess contacts when they have never even had the ability to sync contacts on their phone!

I saw an interesting video on youtube last night that smartphones have a very small share of the global market. These companies are trying to get cellphone users to migrate over to their platforms NOT get geeks like us to agree on the right way to combine all our contacts from multiple platforms the right way.

Let's face it, if you are like me and have been reading about the Pre for a few months before it launched, we're the minority! Palm & Sprint are going after WAY LESS technical people who really don't get this stuff.

Setup multiple google or facebook accounts to split off your contacts or don't use that feature. Better yet, stick with what you have. I'm buying a Pre and figuring out how to change my workflow to integrate it into my life.

See y'all in line on June 6th!