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Android contacts is unusable. Who could allow such a bad core app?

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by jlittle, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. jlittle

    jlittle Lurker
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    Having been using PDAs from the days of the Psion 3, then windows smart phones for several years, I was very happy to have all my 800 or so contacts with me in an easy to view and search format. And call them.

    When I "upgraded" from windows CE phone (touch diamond) to a HTC desire, I was shocked at how bad the PDA functions were. As a businessman, its not usable. Why did google let the core part of the phone, the address book, be so crippled? Did they let their junior team develop it? Do goggle Staff not have any contacts? Below are what makes it unusable:

    1) Contact Spam.
    Although I have 800 real contacts, the phone thinks I have over 2000. It has put in every email address I have sent from my gmail account (which I stupidly used to create the market account), and every facebook friend. I want neither, ever. Its almost impossible to find my contacts now. Forget scrolling that many even with the "dont show contacts with no phone number" on. You have to search. Which brings the next huge Google gaff:

    2) Search doesn't search on organisation.
    In fact, it doesnt even show companies in the list so you cant scroll to find them. Great. probably 50 of my contacts are companies, so have no firstname/lastname. These are now gone - there is no way to find them or view them on the phone. They are there, but you cant see them. I had Spend a day going through all my contacts on my pc copying the company name to the firstname to get around this major missing functionality. And google is supposed to be a search company. It doesn't search on other really important fields either, such as notes and addresses. You have to purchase an extra app just to search or see companies: contact search+. It works, but its still painful.

    3) Search brings back spam.
    Search brings back all the unwanted junk non-contacts from everyone you have ever emailed or befriended on facebook. I have one contact on my pc, which has all the info I need about that person, including email, phone number, name, address etc. When I search, I get 5 "copies" for each person - only one is the real contact and I have to guess which one.

    4) only supports one copy of an email address.
    I have a mac, so I have to sync with google contacts through mac mail. This works perfectly, EXCEPT due to schoolboy design error by Google, if the contact has an email address say on facebook, or I even emailed them from my gmail account, it only has that (spam) record on the phone, and throws away my full record. So Im on the road, and desperatly need to call someone, and find their contact details are not on my phone, but their email address on its own is. Nice work.

    5) You cant see the address.
    You only see the first 20 or so characters of the address in the contact details screen. If you click on the address, it opens google maps or something, but this is totally useless as I dont have any data allowance, nor do I want any because I spend most of my time travelling. I dont want to spend
     

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  2. Tre Lawrence

    Tre Lawrence Android Expert
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    Hate to hear your having these issues.

    The first problem, far as i can tell, is that you seem not to have set up your sync to your liking. Sounds like you have Facebook contacts syncing. You need to clean out your address book (and related caches) to fix that snafu.
     
  3. jlittle

    jlittle Lurker
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    If there is a way to clean out all the gmail added email address junk "contacts", and all the facebook names, from android contacts, without having to reformat the phone and start again using a dummy new google account for the market (losing all bought apps) and never using facebook account (thats not a problem), then I would pay good money, beers, free holiday in Spain to find out how. Ive seen a few dodgy looking paid apps which claim to clean contacts, but I'm not willing to risk losing my real contacts. I have literally gone through every possible option in android settings, and I cant find anything like this. E.g. you can only set the schedule for facebook contacts sync for every hour to every day. There is no "never", or "delete all the ones you put in there without asking me" option.

    Basically, on my mac I have my 800 or so real contacts. Thats all I want on my phone, but the phone wants to spam me with every email gmail has ever seen, and pointless and annoying facebook names. As I have to sync my mac contacts through my gmail account, and as gmail, unbeknown and unwanted by me chose to stuff in every email on the planet at the same time as contacts on the phone, I dont see a way to extract the two. I seriously considered resetting the phone back to factory settings, and using a dummy gmail account with no prior emails to sync my contacts, and to turn off and not use anything facebook related to try and hide from the 500 spam facebook names, but then I would loose the
     
  4. jlittle

    jlittle Lurker
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    Under:
    settings>application>manage applications>All
    ->Facebook
    ->Facebook for HTC sense
    ->Contacts Storage

    There is the option to "clear data".

    However, I cant find any information on what this does, and if it will delete my real contacts when I sync. I know that android screws up badly if you have two contacts with the same email address.
     
  5. pool_shark

    pool_shark Android Expert
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    I don't have nearly as many contacts as you but what I did is export my contacts to a file from Outlook, put the file on my Droids sdcard, then imported them. I turned off Google contact sync.

    To clear your contact info go to settings - applications - manage applications - all, find the contacts app, clear data.

    It's funny that you say you don't know how everyone puts up with it as if everyone is having the same problems you are.
     
  6. TRS-80

    TRS-80 Android Enthusiast
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    Luckily, I had accidentally stumbled upon this helpful article before I got myself into the situation you seem to be describing:

    The Complete Guide to Fixing Google Contacts

    I found the article extremely helpful. I now sync my contacts effortlessly across my (former) BlackBerry 8330, my new Samsung Galaxy Indulge, and even to my Thunderbird desktop client on several different computers. Any update on any of those platforms updates to all the others automatically, that is the beauty of Google! But apparently, it takes a little bit of setting up to avoid the problems you describe.

    In fact, when I got the Galaxy, all I had to do was add my Google account info, and of course with Google integration being as good as it is on the Android platform, all my contacts (and Google calendars, for that matter) came right up on the new phone, like presto! Easy as pie.
     
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  7. jrowlings

    jrowlings Well-Known Member
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    you need a little patience. first go into settings, accounts and sync and go into each sync account and select and/or deselect the items you want sync'd. then... go into people, menu, delete, menu, select all, then hit delete (which will show you, by the way, how many contacts are deleting. then go into settings, applications, manage applications, select all at the top, scroll to find contacts storage and push the clear data and clear cache buttons. now resync and you should be fine. you can do these same steps for the calendar, if you had a similar problem there. the inc is an excellent smartphone. like many smartphones (including many of my previous windows phones) the native programs are not as good as 3rd party apps are. personally, I prefer calendar pad over the native calendar. i rarely go into the people app as the phone dialer gets me who I need in only a few keystrokes and I use the htc people widget for my frequently dialed people. patience jl... patience...
     
  8. thrawn86

    thrawn86 Android Enthusiast
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    basically already posted but:

    the first time you set up facebook sync during quick setup, it should have asked you which contact syncing scheme you preferred (you want numbers only + no facebook).

    these settings are easily changeable in sync options after the fact.

    "clear data" will *not* get rid of your contacts, just their local storage. your phone will resync and everything will be normal. I do understand your frustration at multiple copies of contacts in some situations, though.

    remember its always best to just edit contacts through gmail. don't even bother doing it on your phone.
     
  9. Darkseas

    Darkseas Well-Known Member
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  10. RazzMaTazz

    RazzMaTazz Android Expert
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    I haven't experienced the problems that Jlittle has (probably because I don't try to sync with Facebook or LinkedIn). I am able to perfectly, automatically, synchronize all of my contacts in Outlook between my desktop PC, laptop PC, and my Android phone, for free, without adding any 3rd party software or apps, using this method. It takes a few minutes to set up. It's really easy and works perfectly.

    I used to use the free MyPhoneExplorer, but it didn't synchronize all Outlook data fields-- just 16 of the most commonly used fields.
     
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  11. jlittle

    jlittle Lurker
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    I tried Darkseas cleanup suggestion. Its diabolically bad.

    On my mac contacts, I have John Smith in twice, once with all his spanish address and numebrs, once with his UK address and numbers (as most contact apps dont allow 2). Both happen to have the same email address, which was fine in outlook, windows CE phones, Mac mail and iPhone.

    In gmail contacts, is just his email address, with no name or other data. This is because I emailed him from gmail once.

    On the mac, I use the mac address book built in sync to gmail contacts.

    When I sync, because gmail already has a "dummy" contact with just his email address in, it wont sync either of my proper contacts which contain his phone numbers, addresses, and email. Because it cant handle more than one contact with the same email. The spam one blocks the real one.

    On my Android phone, after setting up the phone with my gmail contacts, and a facebook account (big mistake), there is only one contact for John Smith, his facebook account, as this also has the same email. So gmail itself wont sync its own contacts for which any facebook friend exists, as android cant handle the same email twice, and facebook for some reason took priority.

    So I deleted the dummy email only contact from gmail, then resynced my mac contacts.

    Guess what happened?

    1) It deleted one of my good contacts (the newer Uk one) form my mac address book. I had to go to an old backup and restore him.
    2) It didnt sync anything for him to gmail - the deleted old one is "remembered", and the remaining account for him is ignored.

    So my assumption is this:
    1) If I delete a "spam" dummy account which gmail creates for itself every time you email someone from gmail, it will delete a real contact, full of info, from your real contacts, which happens to have the same email address So you cant EVER delete this kind of duplicate.
    2) Once you have gone through the pain of losing the dummy and real contact, the 3 contact I have (the Spanish details), still wont sync to gmail.

    My phone still only has the spam facebook contact, which no phone number or address.

    Game over?
     
  12. jlittle

    jlittle Lurker
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    And it gets worse.
    I restored the good contact to mac address book (which gmail deleted when I deleted the empty dummy record it created when I sent an email once and I synced)

    I decided to merge my two records for John Smith into one, to make it easier for gmail/android (but harder more difficult for me, as I can now only have one mobile, and have to cut and paste the other). Anyway, I synced mac address book with gmail, then looked in gmail contacts and my new record was there. Result. Just one merged record for John Smith.

    then I synced my android phone gmail contact.

    Guess what? It overwrote my nice new merged contact, with the old one which gmail sync did not delete the first time round.

    What? Why?

    Its a disaster.

    Thank good I have good backups.

    I had assumed that If I get rid of my Mac, and switch back to using outlook, things would get better, but from what people say, thats not much better.

    I have had no problems like this for the last 5 years with any other smart phone.
     
  13. rhippler

    rhippler Well-Known Member
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    Go to the people app(contacts) hit menu then view. there you can select which accounts show up in the list. if you tap the arrow next to an account you can further eliminate specific folders, unspecified in your case. This works on HTC sence not sure about other skins
     
  14. jlittle

    jlittle Lurker
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    Thanks for this tip:

    This would be the answer to my dreams if it worked. But if you select, for example "Only contacts with phone numbers", then do a search in People, it brings back all contacts, including those with no numbers. I.e. the elimination only works when scrolling though the contacts. As I now have over 1000 current contacts, scrolling has never been an option. So these filters are useless for me.

    My Partner only has a fraction of my contacts, and she has exactly the same problem that searching brings back the spam facebook and gmail accounts, when she just wants to find someones number to call. She has begun the tedious job of linking them all together, to try to help the issue. She uses outlook where her main contacts are (and these are the only ones she wanted on her phone), and the htc sync program to sync them. Obviously, she then got dumped all her facebook accounts (There is no way I can find to switch this off, without removing the account all together, which she doesn't want to do as she sometimes posts), and her many email accounts she had in gmail and also doesnt want (She wants them to be in gmail, for when she uses gmail online to email them, she just doesnt ever want them in the phone as we dont use email on the phone as we have no data allowance, nor do we need or want it).

    For Her, I should have created a new dummy account for her market purchases. Im kicking myself for not doing this, as there is no changing it once you have purchased some apps. Creating a dummy account would have saved her all those spam email contacts that are impossible to get rid of now (as she needs them in gmail).

    What we dont know, is if she edits a linked contact on the phone, e.g. adds a new phone number, which system this will update: outlook, gmail or facebook. Or none? E.g. if she edits a number which was both on facebook and in outlook? Will it update both?
     
  15. thrawn86

    thrawn86 Android Enthusiast
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    I'm not sure what the problem is. set your dialer to only show contacts with numbers, and when autocomplete comes up when you type a number/name, simply choose the one you want.

    ie:
    john smith (111-1111)
    john smith(222-1111)
    john smith (johnsmith@smith.net)

    or just merge them yourself.

    you're suggesting gmail *shouldn't* save a record of all contacts you email/call? If you want John Smith to have 3 numbers and 8 email addresses, its up to you edit that contact accordingly. No mail program can read your mind.

    I have a fair number of contacts like that, but I haven't played with the actual "merge duplicates" tool.

    I'm guessing this is either a limitation of the software on mac itself or some sort of setting whether to sync duplicates or contacts with/without numbers


    Yes it can? In fact its probably my favorite feature of facebook contact syncing. All of my contacts got updated with new phone numbers and addys without me having to do a thing. To be fair, I ended up with a few duplicates where it didn't match up the names properly.

    again this sounds like a software/setting issue. There's got to be a way to do a non-destructive sync in either direction. which one did you choose? if you tell it to delete duplicates, it probably will.


    Yes, you can. I would suggest you Play with the merge duplicates tool, or edit them yourself.
     
  16. Caipirinha

    Caipirinha Newbie
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    Regarding Facebook integration: When I first got the phone I set up the Facebook for HTC app, not knowing that it would put all my FB friends into the people app (which I didn't want - hated it). I removed the Facebook account and installed the regular Facebook app from the market. I vaguely remember it asking me whether you want to sync FB contacts after you install and I just said no. So no clutter in your contacts and you can still use the app for posting and checking Facebook.

    If you have several contacts for "John Doe" showing in Gmail with the same email address, they stay separate in Gmail but get linked as soon as they are synced to the People app. You have to unlink them there if you wish to keep them separate on your phone.

    I don't have nearly as many contacts as you, but I had to do a big clean up in Gmail to avoid a mess on my phone. I merged duplicate contacts and made use of Groups (which you can choose to view separately in the People app).
    Also make sure that all those contacts or email addresses from older gmail exchanges that you don't need to see on your phone are not in the "My Contacts" group. Usually they show anyway under "Other Contacts" in Gmail. I went through and deleted most of them if I didn't have any more info other than an email address. It won't delete your emails, just that useless (to me) entry in "other Contacts". And it won't show on your phone, even in the search function within People.

    It's not the most intuitive solution to dealing with your contacts, I agree. But I think a big clean up and editing within Gmail might make things easier in the long run. Not sure how that effects syncing with your Mac, as I only use gmail for my contacts.

    What bugs me too is that you don't have separate fields for street, city, zip code etc. when making a new contact in Gmail. It happened to me too that in order to see the whole address on the phone I have to go into edit mode and the address is squished into the first field and not readable. Why are there more input fields in the app than in Gmail itself?
     
  17. barqers

    barqers Android Expert
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    My question is: Is there a replacement contacts/dialer app yet?

    That fully takes over the functions of contacts and dialer?

    Cause I hate the default ones.
     
  18. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert
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    No, it is not useless. You may not have a use for it but this is by design. If, while viewing a contact, you click on a phone number, it will call/text the contact. If you click on an email address it will email. If you click on the address it will map/navigate. Do you see a theme here?

    It would be useless if it didn't act on contact data in this manner.

    Not quite. People always seem to overlook hosted Exchange. You don't have to pay all out for Exchange and hardware nor do you have to rely on your company. I've had a personal hosted Exchange account for many years.

    You can't edit someone else's Facebook profile so changes to contact data do not sync back to Facebook.

    If she has Outlook sync set up then changes will sync to Outlook. If the contact is a Google contact then changes will sync to gmail.
     
  19. Android>Apple

    Android>Apple Well-Known Member
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    My troll sense is tingling.
     
  20. BobPaul

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    Maybe a troll maybe not. He does make a great point in that Android
    is very "un-finished" in the area of contact management. And I don't think
    that part where it takes you to google maps for a contacts address is
    a good design. Maybe maps should be shown when I ask for an address
    of someone NOT in my contacts DB, but it should assume I know where an
    address, of someone I already know, is not needed to show on a map. Seems like a strange default.
     
  21. erb

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    When I first got the myTouch 4g I breezed through the setup without reading what I was doing and ended up syncing my facebook and gmail accounts/contacts with my actual phone contacts :eek:. Holy crap that is a terrible, terrible system. However, as you might guess I turned my brain on which then turned off the sync features and I ended up with a normal contact system just like I've been use to since the beginning :D.
     
  22. PSkeptic

    PSkeptic Android Expert
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    Wow... I think you don't have a solid enough grasp on how syncing works, is all.

    So much for "It just works". I think many of the problems you are having are arising from using the Mac address book.

    I sync my Outlook, Exchange, Google, and Facebook contacts. I've never ran into the number of problems you are having right now.
     
  23. CodeMonkey

    CodeMonkey Guest
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    A few thoughts:

    1. You can simply export Outlook contacts to CSV format and import them to Google. Free and fully documented online by both Microsoft and Google.

    2. Initial setup does require some planning when switching to Google contacts. I flushed my Gmail contacts before my first sync, then reviewed the result in Gmail's web browser. Once happy with them I synced again and checked that the other destinations (Mac Address Book**, Phone) picked up the changes.

    3. Syncing with Facebook and Twitter can be limited to your existing contacts (as others have explained above). Separate entries for the same contact in Facebook, Google and / or Twitter can be joined through the android contacts app, and changes to the contact information on the phone are synced back to the Google contact.

    4. Extra phone numbers. You can add custom fields in both Gmail and Mac address books and have them sync correctly.

    5. Searching by company name. I've just tried this on my phone (Nexus One running stock v2.3.3 ROM) and it works perfectly. No purchased app necessary.

    6. Viewing address data. I can see all the relevant address information when viewing my contacts.

    **Note that I use Spanning Sync to sync calendars and contact information between my Google account and my mac. I have limited faith in Apple's ability to play nicely with others.


    It seems to me that most of the OP's problems have stemmed from a bad first setup, understandable on moving to a new platform. Much like others have suggested here I'd strongly suggest backing up data (on all synced platforms), then wiping the device and starting from scratch.
    I suspect that an afternoon of clearing out 'spam' contacts and starting afresh would provide a far superior experience.
     
  24. jimdroid

    jimdroid Android Expert
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    Nice post, CodeMonkey.

    gMail also allows you to roll back your contacts to a previously saved version. If, for some reason, you muck up your contacts on the phone (Facebook, for example), you can always delete Contacts Storage data on the phone, then roll back gMail to a good version on a PC, then allow the phone to re-sync. And, since the OP is having trouble, once the contacts are good, export all the contacts to disk, just in case.
     
  25. BiggestManEver

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    I'm going to have to go with this.

    I know what the OP is saying... when I'm in gmail I sometimes see those "garbage" contacts that are just addresses I've emailed once.

    But Android phones, by default, just gets the "my Contacts" and not those garbage ones, from what I can see. If for some reason that's not the default setting, it's like, a three-button-press to fix. And no, deleting any of those garbage contacts doesn't delete a real contact. If it deletes a real contact, then you deleted a real contact and not a garbage contact (not as confusing as it sounds).

    Unsyncing the Facebook ones is an easy, one-step process, so I don't get the uproar on this.
     

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