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Gmail updates contacts system, signals a bigger move?

Today, Gmail announced the new look and feel of Gmail Contacts to include user requested features like sorting, colored labeling (to be consistent with Gmail) and keyboard shortcuts. With this new move, is Gmail signaling something bigger than just a user interface update?

We’ve talked for years about moving away from Outlook and towards living in the cloud that is Gmail and while Gmail isn’t a full email suite yet and there is inherent risk to using cloud based email, Outlook is simply too clunky to live with and I’ve personally made the choice to move on.

With Gmail continuing to make updates and improvements making it possible to ditch Outlook, we believe this signals that they are on course to make a play for the CRM world. People are demanding it and slowly, but surely, they’re improving their offering, making it look and function more and more like a modern CRM system. If Google came out with a CRM around their existing Gmail product, would you leave Outlook for good? Or do you still have that nagging feeling of mistrust?

What updates made the cut?

Google says that “Contacts now works more like the rest of Gmail, so if you know how to use Gmail, now you should automatically feel comfortable in Contacts too.” The design is now more consistent with the Gmail interface, and according to Google, the updates made are as follows:

  • Keyboard shortcuts (go to Contacts and hit “?” for the full list)
  • Sort by last name (look under “More actions”)
  • Custom labels for phone numbers and other fields
  • The ability to undo changes you’ve just made
  • Automatic saving
  • Structured name fields, so you can adjust titles, suffixes, and other name components
  • A bigger, more prominent notes field

Here’s a screenshot:

What do you think?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Jason Lopez

    August 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I fully switched to gmail and most of their other apps like Docs, Calendar, Contacts, etc about 6 months ago. It was pretty painless and the cloud allows for real time synching with my iPhone so it is a breeze. Now when I use Outlook I almost have to think about how it works.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      I agree, the Google suite is really advantageous for mobile users.

  2. Tassia Bezdeka

    August 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I’m still fairly attached to Outlook, especially since I can have my BB sync my calendar so seamlessly using Google Sync. If they ever made a sync program for Contacts, I’d definitely be in heaven!

    I think I might be a bit of an anomaly though; since I’m almost never without my laptop using Outlook isn’t a huge hassle.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 10, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      Outlook has made some great advancements in the last few years and if you’re rarely mobile, you’re right, it’s fine to stay put. I do suspect that over the years, Google will advance faster than Outlook (despite my firm belief that Google is evil! lol).

  3. Fred Romano

    August 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I haven’t seen my account update yet, but I am excited for it. I love Gmail and think its perfect for my realty business. Everything is organized neatly, and everything syncs seamlessly with my Android phone. If I make a change to a contact on the web, its updated within seconds on my phone. Honestly I’d be willing to pay for it! But glad I don’t have to 🙂

  4. Ken Brand

    August 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for the heads up. I switched from OutLook to the GoogleApps Biz Domain, which includes the domain-eMail/Gmail + Contacts + Calendar + Docs (which can now be made public – umm, you shared that news too:-).

    It works great, and syncs with all the gadgets flawlessly.


  5. Matthew Hardy

    August 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Seriously? Sorting and saving are features that warrant a “play” for the CRM world?

    “Play” is a good word because this is so far from business CRM it begs incredulity.

  6. Tim Shepard

    August 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I abandoned Outlook last fall and have never looked back.

    Google Apps was the choice for me and has been absolutely great. I did check though and the gmail upgrades do not seem to be applied to google apps yet.

    If you are using email for business, I would strongly recommend evaluating google apps vs. gmail. You can use your own domain and the costs is $50 per year.

    At first, I spent a lot of time to make sure that Outlook was synced with google apps. However, after a couple of weeks, I discovered that I didn’t need outlook any longer because I was organizing, sending, and receiving emails from the apps client regardless of if I was on my phone or laptop.

    The great thing is that I now have email, contacts, calendar, tasks, and google voice on any computer in the world (except China) that is connected to the internet.

    Buy a new computer….no problem, the apps suite can be set-up in 30 seconds.

    Drop my phone in the Gulf while fishing (happens frequently) …no problem, my contacts and email can be loaded onto the new phone in less than 30 seconds.

    If you would like to spend more time away from your significant other (laptop), google apps might just be what you need.

    By the way, I am a realtor and do not work for google!

  7. Joe Loomer

    August 11, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Is Gmail compatible with Xobni? If not, I’m sticking with Outlook.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Lani Rosales

      August 11, 2010 at 11:50 am

      Joe, like this?

  8. Miami Condo Shop

    August 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Gmail and Outlook are very different approaches in terms of email organization. Over the past couple of years Google started to incorporate more features while Microsoft has scaled-down complex features and improved its search. I use Outlook for business correspondence and managing tasks, and Gmail for social media and majority of my web activities. One thing is certain though, Gmail has evolved into a mature product that can be used for business purposes. The competition between the two is vital to make our lives a bit easier, as it’s a huge part of our own productivity.

  9. Ruchi Parikh

    August 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Finally this new Gmail Contact is live and I can see it on Upper left hand side..
    First thing which I did with this new Contact manager is deleted those contacts which was added by Gmail for default./

    Gmail made managing contact easy… One more feature which I’m waiting to see from Gmail is Email scheduling feature..

  10. stephanie crawford

    August 12, 2010 at 4:16 am

    Wow… I was just complaining about Gmail contacts on another post recently. I may finally have to make the jump. Although my company offers us a free MS Exchange server so I’m already completely synced with my phone in real time. If my company didn’t offer this, I’d definitely switch!

  11. Jim Gatos

    August 12, 2010 at 7:17 am

    I’d LOVE To use GMail full time but the problem I have is I “put the other email addresses on Gmail and now on my android everything’s a huge mess! i get the emails two or even three times now! Once on my HTC Mail, once on the Gmail account on my HTC mail, and if I use the GMail app, there too! I don’t want to use GMail for my business emails and it’s frustrating. If someone knows how to help me please contact me and I’ll switch to GMail full time!

  12. Nick Nymark

    August 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Very Cool. I already use Gmail and have been for a long time. It works great for me and with these new features it appears it is just getting better.

  13. Jim Gatos

    August 14, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Is there a way to do an 8 x 8, 12 x 12, or 33 touch action plan on Google Contacts and Calendar?

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