Though many of Google’s own Android apps are available to all devices that run the platform, there have been a couple holdouts. One of them was Google Contacts. In the past, you had to own a Pixel, Nexus, or Android One phone to use it. Fortunately, the company has just opened up availability to all devices with the latest version, released to the Google Play Store on Tuesday.
While every phone comes with its own built-in contacts app, and there are loads of third-party alternatives out there, Google’s solution is distinctive because it leverages the full capabilities of the company’s cloud. There’s backup and sync, the ability to merge contacts, and fast switching between accounts if you have multiple Gmail addresses stored on your phone.
It also helps that what you see in the Google Contacts app is exactly what you get via the dedicated web version. It’s a seamless experience that was unavailable to the wide majority of Android users until this week.
Still, you’ll need to be running at least Android 5.0 Lollipop to download the app, no matter what device you’ve got. This version of Contacts is actually pretty new — the app was given a fresh look in May — though Google appears to be adding even more features in the near future, according to 9to5Google. The site recently uncovered the ability to share and add contacts via QR codes, though it isn’t live for the public yet.
Google has a history of testing and including unreleased features in public apps, long before they’re formally rolled out via a new version or a discreet server-side update. There’s no way to tell when we might see QR sharing appear — it could be weeks or months, as we’ve observed with similar updates to the company’s Allo chat platform.
Google Contacts is not to be confused with Trusted Contacts — Google’s app that allows friends and family to request and view each other’s location. The app has long been available for Android, but didn’t debut on iOS until July. Unlike Contacts, Trusted Contacts is intended more for tracking in the event of an emergency.
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