After covering Gmail, Google Calendar and Remember the Milk in the Living in
the Cloud series, I am going to discuss Gmail Contacts this week. It is not
a standalone app like any of the previous three apps I have covered in this
series but it fits into my workflow based on clouds very nicely. I thought Gmail
Contacts also deserves a mention in this space.
Gmail Contacts is integrated inside their email system. In fact, it is pretty
similar to the contacts features in many email applications used in the desktop
world. Even though it is an integrated app, it can also be accessed as a
standalone web app using this
URL (However, you need to be already logged into your Google Account before
using the URL). The reason I consider it as a standalone app on the clouds is
because of the fact that Google has already released an API for Gmail Contacts and the API can be
tapped to build applications solving different problems faced by the users. This
Contacts app will become important if Google decides to add OAuth support and
Opensocial integration in the future. Let us now consider some of the pros and
cons of Gmail Contacts.
- Automatic addition of email addresses of the people with whom you
communicate using Gmail. These email addresses are added under Suggested
Contacts section and one can easily add them to the main contacts list with a
- Ability to see the recent conversations for any contact from the contact
manager itself. All the email conversations you had with a contact recently can
be accessed by clicking the show link next to Recent Conversations.
- Using an online contact manager like Gmail Contacts makes it easy to
import your contacts to social networking sites.
- Availability of API and hence the availability of software to sync with desktop and mobile devices makes Google Contacts a truly cloud based
application. The recent release of gContacts for Iphone is also another example.
- Automatic sync of Gmail Contact list with Android phones.
- Easy integration with Google Talk
- It is not a standalone app. If you visited Gmail contacts using the above
URL, it is inaccessible unless you are logged in already.
- It doesn’t support OAuth, an
open protocol for secure authorization of web apps.
Whether you see Gmail Contacts as a separate app or see it as a feature of
Gmail, it helps you put all your contact information inside the clouds and
access it from many different devices. Your contacts are just a click away from
you all the time.