In February of 2011 I posted Taking Google to Tasks about Tasks, which seemed to hit a nerve with my readers as it is among my most popular articles. At the time, I was hopeful of promised improvements to Tasks, but encouraged readers who were eager to try a better program to give GQueues a go. Well, here we are fifteen months later and Google Tasks are still lame, while GQueues just gets better and better. My suggestion is to simply forget about Google Tasks improving in the foreseeable future and try another program, such as the aforementioned GQueues or any one of another Google Apps integrated task managers such as Producteev or SandGlaz. There are also a number of Google-friendly task managers cum project managers that are aimed at teams.
Google Contacts Suck, Too
I recently took a deep dive into Google Contacts. While this program is not as moldy as Google Tasks, it still leaves much to be desired. Here’s what I see as the app’s shortcomings:
- Find and Merge Duplicates, a welcome feature, misses far too many duplicates. With something like 2500 entries in my address book, it took several hours or hand editing to reduce the number of actual duplicates. A savier system would find not only exact duplicates, but ID near duplicates–allowing users to exercise their own judgment as to whether or not the entries should be merged or remain separate.
- Find and Merge Duplicates also often replicates addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and other data instead of merging them elegantly.
- Speaking of duplicates, I’d like the ability to create a copy of a contact for editing. For example, when I wish to add several people from the same organization, I need to re-enter address information for each person. This is silly. Let me duplicate an entry and then change person-specific information.
- Contacts should open in a new window, rather than closing your current window. A common need may be to copy information from a contact into an email, or look up an address that is not auto-completing for some reason.
- While you’re at it, Google, allow me to drag and drop a contact’s v-card from my address book into an email. This import/export business is far to cumbersome.
- Search (Google strength) for a contact’s public online information, especially that for social networks such as Linked-In, Facebook, and Twitter should be available within Contacts. As it stands, one needs to use third-party applications such as Gist or Rainmaker to accomplish these tasks. Let me say that both of these products are solid and useful, but I think their functionality should be built-in to Google contacts.
- Field Labels within contacts could be a lot more intelligent. For example, when I add a contact I often have to tweak the label for a contact to indicate whether a phone number or email address if home, work, etc. Too often the label is simply a generic “other.” Google can do a better job of predicting what a label should be based on the entry. An entry for verizon.com is more likely to be a personal email address than that of a Verizon employee simply due to the number of customers with that service versus employees.
- Adding a Spouse or Child should automatically prompt you to add another entry with that person’s name as the main contact, and these contacts should be linked to allow a change in one record to be populated to that of the other contact(s).
- There’s no way to set a default format for telephone numbers. There is a nifty little utility called Phone Number & Email Address Fixer, and I got it to work for me, but come-on, Google. We shouldn’t need this!
- Creating Group Email Lists is cumbersome. Drag and drop should be part of the UI and it is not. So as it stands, you need to select individual users from a list and then choose a list (or lists) from the groups menu, or while in a group, click on add user and then search or choose a contact from a list.
- Sharing email lists is also a pain. Progress is being made on the enterprise-side through programs such as Sherpa Tools and Shared Contacts for Gmail, but for individual users this still remains an export/import issue with no real-time syncing.
- Foolproof Contacts syncing remains elusive. Perhaps the problem is that everyone wants their contact list to be authoritative. As a Macintosh and iOS users, I recognize that Apple wants their Address Book and iCloud sync service to be the boss. But I want Google’s contact list to be in charge, which means I generally do not use Address Book. Yes, I know that I can sync address book to Google Contacts, but experience has taught me that when I add iCloud to the mix that things can go haywire and I end up with duplicate entries, sometimes even entire duplicates of the entire contact list. Having been burned too many times to count, I’m content to forego the elegance of Apple’s interface on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone for something I know won’t mess up.