Google announced Tuesday that it’s releasing a preview of its new Google Contacts app, which can be accessed now. If you use Gmail, you use a form of Google Contacts, although it’s hardly a perfect system. Previously, Google’s contact app was a mess: It threw people you’ve emailed once into a big list, mixed up with best friends and coworkers and someone you might have added to a circle in Google Plus. Long and messy contact lists may have led to some errant emails last week thanks to a autocomplete bug in Gmail.
The Google Contacts update is bringing a ton of long-requested features, including a complete redesign using Google’s Material Design look. It’s got a feature to remove contacts you have stored twice, or for contacts who, for instance, have their email address and phone number stored separately. When I first logged on, it recommended I cut 18 duplicate contacts.
Another improvement is that Google will stick your recent correspondence with someone below their contact information. When you look a contact up, you’ll see when Google thinks you were last in touch. Google also said that it’ll keep your contacts up to date when people you know change their profile information.
You’ll note that Google’s blog post never mentions Google+ — only “Google profile information.” The old contacts integration with Google+ was a headache for people who didn’t use the social network, and this new app could partially reflect Google’s recent decision to split up Google+, as well as its revolving cast of managers.
Like Google Inbox, for now, the new contacts page is for Gmail users only, and it’s not available for people using Google Apps.
Android phones use Google Contacts as the de facto default contact syncing service — which means that millions of Android users were walking around with contact apps full of errors, mistakes and duplicates. Hopefully we’ll see some of the new features trickle down to smartphones. You can try out the new Contacts preview here.