Buzz Rethinks How the iPhone Handles Contacts


Buzz Contacts for iPhone is the latest offering from savvy apps, makers of the popular alternative calendar app, Agenda. Both apps take built-in iOS apps and offer new interfaces to save users time and sanity. Actually, Buzz takes on three apps at once: Contacts, Phone and Messages. It also uses FaceTime, a feature another popular third-party contacts app doesn't have.

If only Buzz handled the receiving of texts, voicemails and missed calls, you'd never need those other apps again. Instead of presenting contacts in a long, scrolling list like the built-in apps do, Buzz lets you add favorites to big, tappable grids of four people at a time. You can sort the grids into groups like "family," "friends," "work" or whatever you want.


What Buzz Does Do

When you add someone to a grid, you can choose your preferred method for contacting them: phone, FaceTime, email or text. On the grid, the person's name is shown along with the icon for your chosen method of contact. Double-tapping on that tile shows you the rest of the options. Within a group, you can swipe right through pages of four people at a time, or you can swipe left to see the condensed list.

You can also easily send group emails or texts to some or all members of the group by tapping the bar at the bottom. You can open a blank message or use "status taps" to pre-load a message like "Running late. Be there soon." Finally, there's a dialer, so you can place calls to people who aren't in your contacts.

That's all there is to it. It's a simple, beautiful interface for performing some of the iPhone's most integral functions efficiently.

What Buzz Doesn't Do


The biggest drawback for any contacts app is that you can't receive inbound communication through it, so users must still have Messages and Phone visible somewhere. It's not really a replacement; it's just a faster manager foroutbound communication. You also can't add or edit contacts through Buzz, which is a little bit of a pain.

The other things Buzz doesn't do are best illustrated in comparison to Mysterious Trousers'Dialvetica, another popular contacts app. I'm sure the makers of each app are groaning right now, since they're already rivals in calendar apps. But one isn't better than the other. They're different philosophies. Which one works best for you is a matter of personal style.

Dialvetica manages your contacts for you. It's a changing list that sorts people automatically by whom you contact most. In Buzz, you sort contacts manually, putting them into groups. In Dialvetica, there's no setup time, but the drawback is that your contacts move around. You have to set Buzz up yourself, but things stay where they are once you put them there.

The one thing Dialvetica definitely does that Buzz definitely doesn't do is Google Voice. If you have a second number with Google Voice, it's in Dialvetica as yet another call and text option. That would be a great feature in Buzz as well.



Buzz Contacts from Ken Yarmosh on Vimeo.

Jon Mitchell