Cobook – A Better Address Book?

In some ways, the built in Mac OS X Address Book wears like an old pair of sneakers – comfortable and familiar. What it lacks in style and features, it makes up for in dependability. Over the years, updates to Mac OS X have brought numerous improvements and enhancements. Yet despite these changes, the Address Book has remained largely the same. A facelift here and there, some improved syncing capabilities, but not much to get excited about (in fact, the Lion overhaul was largely protested).

Seeing the opportunity for real feature improvement in the realm of contact management, the team at Cobook have created a unique, innovative app that breathes some life into the Address Book. If you’re looking to give some more muscle to your Address Book, Cobook will take care of the heavy lifting.

What Is Cobook?

Cobook “cohabitates” alongside the Address Book and runs locally on your computer as a native application. Under the hood, it seamlessly integrates with the built in Address Book – what you see in Cobook is being synced directly with your Address Book data. At its core, Cobook is a contact manager with an emphasis on workflow and ease of use.

Clicking on the Cobook menu bar icon opens a simple, elegant drop down menu showing a list of all your contacts. Hovering over a contact opens a slide out window revealing all the specific details for that contact. This seemingly basic functionality is something sorely lacking in the built in Address Book. However Cobook’s feature set doesn’t stop here. In fact, after spending some time with Cobook, you may never want to open the Mac Address Book again.

Cobook Accesses Your Contacts Directly from the Menu Bar

Cobook Accesses Your Contacts Directly from the Menu Bar

Need to add a new contact? Simply type the name of your contact in the Cobook’s search field. Not recognizing the name from your current list of contacts, Cobook will prompt you to add this person as a new contact. With your newly created contact, begin typing any of the contact’s details like a phone number, email address or birth date and Cobook will accurately identify this piece of information and prompt you to add it to the proper field within the contact. All of the fields available from within the Address Book can be accessed and populated by Cobook.

Cobook Dsplays all your Contact's Information

Cobook Dsplays all your Contact's Information

Social Integration

Because much of our contacts’ information is spread out across different social networks, Cobook is designed to pull in this information and organize it all from within the application. Cobook can match and fetch your contacts’ profile information from Facebook and Linkedin as well as grab tweets posted on a contact’s Twitter feed. If you have social network contacts that aren’t currently in your Address Book, Cobook can be configured to import their profile data as new contacts.

A recent update to the application now includes integration with Google Voice. Right click on a contact’s phone number and select from one of several connection methods including Google Voice, Skype and Apple’s new Message app. In fact, Cobook integrates nicely with other apps – click on any URL in a contact and the default browser will open. Clicking an email addresses will open a compose window (Kudos for Sparrow support).

Cobook Pulls Information from Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin

Cobook Pulls Information from Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin

Of course, to take full advantage of Cobook’s social network integration, you’ll need to give it permission to access this content. But here again, all of this data is being stored locally on your computer.

There is a possible downside to using Cobook’s social integration – whenever someone’s Facebook or Linkedin profile is updated, this content will automatically update your local contact data as well. Currently there is no ability to turn off or override this feature. Though most would likely want this information to be kept current anyway.

Will Cobook work with Google Contacts? According to the developer, the answer is “yes” but with the following limitations:

  • It’s not possible to sync the same contacts with both iCloud and Google
  • Contact tags are not synced
  • Social profiles are not synced

Managing and organizing groups is made easy with the use of tags. Contacts can be assigned multiple tags to different groups. Cobook can send out tag-based group emails as well. Need to clean house and tidy up your contacts? Cobook has automatically created tags for those contacts missing pertinent information (#no email, #no phone, etc.)

If you need to edit a contact’s information, this can be accomplished directly from within Cobook in edit mode – updated information will automatically sync to the Address Book. Want to rearrange your contact’s details? Simply drag and drop them.

Privacy Concerns?

The recently discovered privacy leak in the iPhone’s contact application giving other apps unfettered access to this data has once again raised concerns about how our personal contact information is handled. So how does an application like Cobook handle your personal data? Regarding your data’s privacy, here’s what Cobook has to say,

Cobook cares about privacy. All your data is stored locally on your computer only, we don’t have any access neither to your data nor accounts. In fact we don’t even have any servers, except for a component that collects bugs.

Conclusion

Cobook is currently in public beta and is available as a free download. It is in active development and as of this writing, is in it’s twelfth beta build. Kaspars Dancis, cofounder of Cobook stated in an email that an initial release of Cobook will be available sometime in April. It will be available in the Mac App Store, yet there is currently no pricing information available for Cobook’s initial release.

As a beta build, Cobook seems stable and reliable. All of its features work as stated and I have not experienced any crashes or hiccups. Of course, as with all beta software making a backup of your data (in this case, your contacts) would be advisable before proceeding with installing and using Cobook. Also note, this app runs on a 64 bit system only.

For active users of the built in Mac Address Book, Cobook looks to have its sights on becoming the “go to” app for contact management. Social Network integration on top of quick information access from the menu bar makes Cobook a versatile tool for all your contact needs.


Summary

A native contact manager that accesses local contact information an well as social network profile data.

9
  • Peter

    Love it!!!

  • http://nataliav.me Natalia Ventre

    I didn’t like this app at all, it grabbed all the people I followed on Twitter and add them as contacts, it doesn’t make sense, because I never going to contact most of them, I thought that the social integration was only to fill up the missing data.

    • http://www.cobookapp.com Kaspars Dancis

      Hi, Natalia – well, sorry it didn’t work the way you thought it will.

      In fact the default options IS to update contacts only and only fill up the missing data.

      But looks like you selected “Import” option which as explained in app: “Cobook will add profiles for those connections that are already in your address book, based on contact’s name. It will create new contact entries for connections that are not already in address book or have different name.”

  • Adrian

    I absolutley love it. Such a joy to use. Been using it since the first public beta.

  • http://donkily.com Scott Reyes

    First of all, I loved using this app. It was great to get all of the social integration. It was quick to access contacts.

    However, I had an issue with it adding wierd entry types to my address book. For example “mobile” turned into “$mobilephone$” which made use with Siri very difficult. I am sure this was just a bug because of it being beta, but it took hours to manually correct it after I unistalled.

    Once this gets cleared up, I will be back.

    • http://www.cobookapp.com Kaspars Dancis

      Hi, Scott, that might have been a problem with some very early versions. It should work fine now.

  • http://www.coroflot.com/joshuajohnson Joshua Johnson

    I’m enjoying this app as well. I’m not even sure it’s possible, but I’d love to see an option to click on a contact and see recent communications with that person, even if it just opened up quick custom search in Mail. I just started using Smartr on the iPhone and it has this functionality.

    • http://www.cobookapp.com Kaspars Dancis

      Yeap, that’s something we intend to add in (not so distant) future.

  • Ky Beak

    A question to any polyglots who tried this app. How does it deal with non-Western names?

    Asian names for example are written last-first unlike Western names. Can Cobook distinguish that and display as such or are all names first-last or last-first regardless of the language the name is written in?

  • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox

    I tried this a while back (after complaining about the current Lion Address Book), but it’s not for me.

    All I want is the old 3-column Address Book as seen in Snow Leopard. If we can’t use the old Apple one, someone needs to make a new one. I will pay cash money for that.

    (the only problem with the old one — aside from the fact that it won’t run in Lion — is that is doesn’t have iCloud syncing, and doesn’t look at social networks for additional contact information.)

  • Sparky Ham

    Takes a while to get used to the interface, but an absolute gem of an app – and free! I especially appreciate being able to untie it from the menubar and have it work like a regular app.

    I would still prefer the old 3-column layout like the guy above, but seeing as it lets me view contacts that are NOT yet in a group or tagged (Lion has a bug regarding this), it’ll do until then.

  • Sascha

    Great App. You keep wondering why something like this isn’t coming out of Apple’s own labs. They are probably distracted counting their money these days. Kudos to the developers. Apple should buy you and integrate this into OS X. And make you guys rich throughout the process :-)

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  • http://frankeves.com/ Frank Eves

    Apple’s Address Book for OS X 10.7 Lion was a big disappointment, Cobook looks good and puts the fun back in contact management. Huge potential. Thanks for your review.

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  • Dom

    I am running Lion and iCloud.
    I have 50 contacts On My Mac (basically archived), 7000 in the Cloud to share with all my devices.
    So far Cobook only shows me the “On My Mac” contacts, but none of the iCloud ones.. hence useless for me.

    Am I missing something?

    • Dom

      I was missing a step in the Preferences of Address Book, which I did notice: Default Address Book.
      There should be something in Cobook that prompts to check which Address Book one wants to scan

  • Chip spaulding

    This app is the BEST. Well thought, fast, clean, a joy to use.

    Well done.

  • Douglas Bates

    Disaster! After removing cobook from my computer, it still is the default contact app on my mail program and I cannot change it. DO NOT DOWNLOAD THIS PROGRAM until they play nice if you decide to stop using it.

    • Steve

      I agree with Douglas, in that CoBook does not want you to uninstall it, and even the developer’s website does not give any support with respect to uninstalling. Makes me think that this is close to being a virus-type install – once you get it, you got it whether or not you want it.

      To me, the mark of a good developer and/or program is a straight forward uninstall feature – this app looses out because of this important omission.

  • Bakhtier

    I am just wondering whether this app has following features.
    1. I have 300 contacts on my phone that i have synced with my mac
    2. I have 500 contacts on my Gmail.
    3. Those contacts overlap with each other ( i mean i have Jane in both places)

    So the feature that I am looking for is to have one list of contacts let’s say 310 contacts (on my mac) and sync it with my phone and Gmail, so all not-needed-contacts are deleted on my phone and Gmail and only 310 contacts left. People I know?

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