Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Android’s default Contacts app is one of the things phone makers seem to relish customizing. Maybe because it’s a straightforward app, or maybe because you’ll be using it every day and they want their style constantly on your mind. Whatever the reason, chances are that unless you have a Nexus device, your Contacts app is customized in some (potentially annoying) way. The good news is that this being Android, there are numerous alternative contact apps to choose from. Today I’m here to show you two apps vying to replace or augment the Contacts app you’re currently using: One is utterly unique, while the other is time-tested and more conventional.
A New Take on Contacts: PureContact
Like them or hate them, Facebook’s Chat Heads certainly have a distinctive style: Contact photos in circles. If you enjoy that aesthetic but don’t want Facebook Home, you should check out PureContact. This free and minimalistic contacts app offers a very different type of experience from what you’re used to, starting with its first screen:
Yup, it’s blank. It’s preceded by a short dialog most people likely won’t bother reading, and then… this. I would expect a contacts app to actually have my contacts in it when I open it, but that’s not how PureContact works: Turns out it’s just for your BFFs. In other words, you have to manually add the people you want in the app, and it works best when it plays host only to a handful of your most frequently-contacted people. Fortunately, adding someone is easy:
And if that person has more than one email or phone, you need to pick one which you prefer. That’s because PureContact uses gestures:
Pretty soon, PureContact looks like this:
Swiping each of these contacts right would email them, in my case. Swiping left would send a WhatsApp message. You can also configure up- and down-swipes to perform various actions.
Finally, you can switch off the names (it’s only a handful of avatars, easy to tell apart) and enable a dark theme if you’re into dark apps:
The end result is a fun way to contact your favorite people with just a simple swipe, without fiddling with your regular Contacts app. Simple, and quite pretty.
PureContact is far from perfect:
- You can’t divide your contacts into groups.
- There’s no homescreen widget (would have been classic for an app like this).
- It’s not smart enough to automatically add your favorite (starred) contacts.
- You can rearrange contacts, but not by drag-and-dropping them.
The Conventional Route: Go Contacts EX
PureContact is aimed at augmenting your existing contacts app, rather than replacing it. But what if you’re looking to ditch your Contacts app altogether, and replace it with a full-featured, simple alternative? Go Launcher EX. Go Contacts EX doesn’t try to break the mold: Rather, it’s a conventional, dependable, do-it-all contacts app. It has everything you’d expect, starting with a T9-enabled dialer:is one app to check out. It comes from a good home, Go Dev Team, the same guys behind
Start tapping out someone’s name, and their number will show. You can also start dialing a few digits from their number, of course. Next comes the Contacts tab:
Pretty much what you’d expect, nothing overly shocking. You can switch tabs by swiping, but rather than the standard Android swipe behavior, Go Contacts EX takes this chance to show off some visual flair:
Much like a home-screen rotation animation, each tab becomes one face in a cube.
Finally, this being a Go Dev Team app, you can also apply various themes. Two themes come with the app, but it also contains a catalog of many other themes which you can download from Google Play:
Many of the themes are quite heavy on the visuals. Here’s what the Graffiti theme looks like:
Looks are subjective, of course, but if you value Android’s minimalistic Holo aesthetic, you may be frustrated with Go Contacts EX’s looks. Other than that, it’s a capable, mature contacts app. A 4.4-star average out of over 41,000 reviews on Google Play shows that Go Dev Team got many things right with this app.
One Final Alternative
Finally, one alternative I just have to recommend is my favorite way of searching my device: Google Gesture Search. Personally, I use it just for quickly finding apps (beats rummaging through a busy icon drawer!), but you can also use it to search for contacts. Just start scribbling the first few letters of a contact’s name, and up comes their information.
What do you use to manage your Android contacts? Is the contact apps for Android that came with your phone good, or did you end up replacing it?