Sometimes I miss a paper Rolodex. While I'm not really old enough to have used one, the idea of a reliable, semi-permanent repository of contact information -- update it by stapling in a new business card, or with good old correction fluid -- seems comforting. Plus it makes that cool whappity-whap sound when you spin it.
Modern contact management, while faster and much lighter (my 1K+ contact list would be a pretty bulky Rolodex), doesn't provide the same sense of control. When your contacts could disappear in a puff of iCloud, it would be comforting to know that your friends' up-to-date info is only a few taps away. Contact syncing from LinkedIn, Plaxo and now Facebook helps somewhat, but all those services come with their own baggage and inessential features.
Former LinkedIn exec Mrinal Desai looks at the current state of contact management and thinks that we might as well still be using the spinny card holders. "We used to pen down contact info before and then when and if informed, erase it and write a new one all over again -- today we do the same. Everything has changed yet nothing has changed for the address book," he says. That's why he and co-founder Jorge Ferreira are introducing addapt for iPhone, a free app that aims to modernize the contact update cycle.
The addapt approach is straightforward. You select your contact info; you share it to fellow contacts in your address book. If they reciprocate, you'll stay in sync automatically with nothing to import, export, re-enter or correct. Grace notes include a best-guess iMessage accessibility field (for contacts who have a phone record flagged as iPhone) and a clear local time indicator so you don't call people at odd hours of the night.
There are other clever services for parsing and importing contact information from inbound email (WriteThat.name for Gmail accounts is one example) or apps that will merge and de-munge the inevitable duplicate contacts from cross-service sync or Facebook integration (Wim deNood's Cleanup Suite on iOS, Spanning Tools on the Mac), but few that deliver dead-simple updating.
If you're tired of emailing out a blast whenever your phone number changes, check out addapt's app. You can learn more about the addapt service at the company's website. As they ramp up the service, access will be invitation-only for a while; be sure to mention that you read about it here on TUAW and maybe you'll get bumped to the front of the line.