11 vCard Sharing Apps for the iPhone

30 Comments

As the recession becomes more and more prevalent, networking will become a more necessary tool in making sure that you can stay afloat — whether it is making new clients for business or a contact to help you get a job, should you find yourself needing one. Beyond that, while business cards have an air of class to them, in this digital world of smart phones and online address books, they feel rather outdated. Unsurprisingly, there are a plethora of options available to the iPhone/iPod touch and here we run down eleven (well, technically ten) of them.

beamME (Free) To even use this app, you’re required to have an account from rmbrME. Once you log-in (or sign-up as the case may be), you can choose the phone number or address of the person you want to “beam” your card to. If you enter a phone number, the recipient will get an SMS message with a URL they can click (or visit later, if they don’t have internet access via their phone) that presents them with a web page of your contact info. From there, they can have that information emailed to them with a vCard attachment. If you go the email route, you can skip that extra set and have all your information sent in an email along with your vCard attached.

Contacts2Go (99 cents) This app has a bevy of interesting features. Once you set the email address you want the vCards to come from, you can send as many vCards from your contacts list to as many people as you want. You have the option to turn off what information from vCards get sent, which is good if you keep notes about people in their contact details, and you can even “Introduce” people — both vCard contacts get each other’s information, a virtual “Hi, Jim. This is Bob. Bob, Jim” sort of situation.

EmailContact (99 cents) EmailContact is undoubtedly the most bare bones of the lot. You are presented your contact list where you’re told to choose the information you want to send. From there, the information is pulled and attached as the body of an email. You can then email it to whomever you choose. A vCard, however, is not attached to that email, so the the recipient(s) will have to manually create a contact for themselves. This could prove to be a hassle for iPhone users with the lack of copy and paste.

FriendBook (99 cents) This is much more than an app solely for sending contact information, it’s more of a Dialer/Contact replacement. With FriendBook you have access to all your contacts to either call, text, or email them. You can also merge multiple contacts, delete contacts and move them around groups. There’s a “Face Dialer” which is a more visual favorites that gives you one touch access to a contacts number. The send vCard option is interesting as it uses your location and the accelerometer to send a card. You put two touch devices together and shake them in a handshake motion (QuickTime link) and the cards are beamed to each other. While definitely cool, the app is hindered by the fact that you can only trade information with other owners of FriendBook — there’s no option to just send a vCard.

Handshake (Free) Like FriendBook, Handshake is dependent on the person receiving your contact information having the application, thankfully, there is an option to send an App Store link so they can download it right away. Once you set your own vCard, Handshake uses location services to find other Handshake owners and your potential recipient. From there you can either choose to send your card or someone else’s in your contact list, pick the person you want to send it to and almost instantly a notification is presented asking the recipient if they’d like to “Preview and Exchange,” “Preview,” or “Discard.” Once you accept the vCard, it’s automatically added to your contacts list. You can also choose to send a picture from your camera roll, which makes sharing photos virtually effortless.

Handshake Premium ($2.99) The premium version is exactly like the free version, except for the lack of advertisements and the good feeling you get for supporting indie developers.

iBeam (99 cents) iBeam is another app that works best when the person you’re trading contact information with also has it. Thankfully, it isn’t totally dependent on this fact and still lets you send information via email. When sending the contact details, you can choose to either attach a vCard or send as a plain text copy in the body, but not both, which would have been a nicer touch. For situations where there is no network connectivity, iBeam also allows you to trade information via an auto-generated QR code. The receiver uses iBeam to take a picture of the barcode and the app will convert the information to a vCard.

Nameo (99 cents) Akin to FriendBook, Nameo requires that both sender and receiver have the application. From there, you just hit connect and your name, number and email are transferred. Unlike all the other apps, you have to input this information manually, that is to say, you cannot choose yourself from the contacts list, and that is all the information that will be exchanged.

Send Contact (99 cents) Send Contact picks up where Email Contact left off. You choose who’s contact information you want to send and then the information is put into the body of an email with a link to a service that will generate a vCard to download. While not as simple as just attaching the vCard to the email, it is still nice that you are given both options to choose from. The email also includes a link to the app for touch device owners to buy and import the contact details with. A huge plus is that before you send each vCard you can choose what extra fields to turn on and off, so you don’t find yourself sending personal information.

Sharecard ($1.99) Sharecard is designed for sending only your vCard. Once it’s assigned, with as few as two taps, it’s attached to an email and in the recipient’s inbox. Like some of the other apps, you can specify how much extra information you want to share when you’re sending it, in the settings, but beyond that, Sharecard is a pretty simplistic app wrapped in a snazzy interface.

vCards (99 cents) vCards is another bare bones app, which it makes apparent from it’s single screen illustrating the three steps to sharing a vCard: Choose the card to send, choose the contact to send it to, and then hit send, where vCard will be attached to an email and sent off. While it’s nice that you can choose whomever’s contact information you want to send, the app is hindered by the fact that the recipient must already be in your contacts list, there is no option to just enter an email address on the fly.

While everyone’s needs and wants are different, I feel that I can say safely that Contacts2Go is the clear winner. While Handshake would have been my top choice, the dependency on both users having the application, free or not, severly hinders the trading information process, which should be as effortless as possible. Contacts2Go, while not as polished as a lot of the other apps, makes that happen. If you have a personal preference or another app you think is better, sound off in the comments.

vCard App Table (click to enlarge)

30 Comments

Guppy

Oupps, and FreeContact is not there either – well it shows in the research on Appstore but when you click download it is no longer available…

Guppy

Same here, I can’t find Contacts2go either on appstore?
I hope the world is going to change because I am very disappointed about all the limitations of simple small useful things in an iPhone. It is my first iPhone but if things are not changing it will also be my last.

Spencer

What happened to contacts2go? I can’t find it in the app store and the link above is not working

Gabe zichermann

Sax:

Thanks for the note.

The account comment you referenced was primarily targeted at recipients of your vcard. When they get your beam, we don’t require them to sign up with us to open and download your information.

For senders: We create an account transparently for iPhone users to facilitate quick and reliable beaming. If you had to send your data each time, consider how long it would take to beam your vcard in a gsm coverage area. Now, imagine how long it might take with a 500kb headshot or logo.

The nokia vcard extension that you reference is a great addition to the vcard standard, and we too are sad that apple didn’t choose to implement it. It would make everyone’s life easier, I assure you. :)

In the meantime, I’m happy to chat about contact exchange or mobile business networking anytime: follow me on twitter as @gzicherm

Gabe

Sax

Mr.Zichermann

you write:
a) You don’t need an online account to use beamME

I cant agree to that cause the first thing you are asked using beamME is:
Do You already have a beamME account?
– No, create one
– Yes, verify me

If I dont create an account beamME cannot be used.

you write:
b) We also support sending over SMS and to any kind of device (not just iPhones)

I cannot verify that without an account but some say this service is available in US only.

However I want to mention, that sending any contacts from a mobile phone to another via SMS is standard since the invention of SMS no matter if it is Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericcson, Samsung, HTC etc.

It’s poor enough that the iPhone does not support that totaly basic feature so anybody is just searching for a compensation of that lacking standard feature, its not such a great invention cause everybody can do that since 10 years.

I think it would be ok to charge $1.- for each copy for millions of iPhone users that they can keep up with any other mobile but I dont understand why I do need an account for that.

cheers
sax

PmTheOne

Well… I can’t believe it… so many FreeContact users and it’s not mentioned as vCard sender….

Ops!! I use it too :)

Pietro

I use FREECONTACT. Email only to any device. Free and no regist required. Why you didn’t mention it?

Reall

I’m using FreeContact that’s free and It’s works ok. Why did you forget in your list?

Eman

I use FREECONTACT. Email only to any device. Free and no regist required. I don’t use it much but it works ok.

Gabe Zichermann

@Casper @kreatre2008:

beamME (my company) does allow beaming over SMS. We built the beamME service on SMS *first* because we wanted to allow universal access for all devices – and many folks don’t have email on their phone.

In fact, in our last release (1.2) – we enabled worldwide SMS beaming: you can now SMS your card to anyone, on any device, in almost any country.

This isn’t WAP push (the iPhone broke that system), but as close as you can realistically get today.

-Gabe

kreatre2008

SMS would be nice but, it’s not something that Apple allows the developers to tap into just yet. Otherwise, you would be able to send photos via SMS too. It’s not that big of a feature for me though since I use Contacts2Go as a business card replacement when I’m out somewhere without business cards. That’s the real value that these apps have — no matter which one you choose.

Casper

Now if someone could come up with an app which could SMS the vcard, then I would be prepared to buy it – not everyone have an email app on their phone….

Oh, yes Apple have not disclosed the SMS interface in the API.

appbeacon

Doing a search, I found we also list these vCard apps:

vCard Mailer
MyCard
SnapDat
vSendIt Mail&QRCode Contact
inTouch Personal
ContactMailer

Sandy

Nice article, I tried a few of them and my favorite is ibeam – i have been using it for a while now and have been very happy with it. The developer adds new features every once in a while that make it even better. I actually use it a lot to beam photo’s between my husband and I, which was not mentioned in this article. I just wish that bluetooth was available to transfer like on my old palm!

Gabe Zichermann

Hi all:

I’m Gabe Zichermann – the CEO of beamME. This is a super interesting article and it’s always great to see how much attention this corner of the iTunes App Store has been getting of late.

I tend to agree with most of Omar’s analysis, save for two points:

a) You don’t need an online account to use beamME
b) We also support sending over SMS and to any kind of device (not just iPhones)

..both of which are features we tend to think of as high priority in our ecosystem. As the most popular app in this group, one thing we’ve heard hundreds of times from our customers is that the simplicity and universality of our approach is at the heart of what they like. I recently wrote a “digital business card design manifesto” on our blog.rmbrme.com website: http://tinyurl.com/8wgc22

And @chick: the reason you can’t do it with Bluetooth is that the default security profile of BT requires both parties go through multiple steps to accept a transfer. Also, by the time you turn BT on in most devices, we’ve already beamed over SMS.

-Gabe

kreatre2008

Well chick, why don’t you send in a feature request to Apple and ask for that functionality? I think it’s dumb to not be able to use any kind of bluetooth synching with the iPhone myself.

chick

How is it that 12 years after I got my first palm with dead simple beaming that I cannot just send my vCard point to point with bluetooth

Josh

I’ve been hoping to find exactly this kind of comparison of these apps… thanks!

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