A powerful new alternative to Apple contacts – MacStories


Whenever a new application is launched in the same category as a pre-installed built-in application, there is always a lot to prove. It is one thing to find new customers in a market limited to third-party options, where potential users have to pay one way or another to access an application of this category. But when there is a free built-in option, third-party applications must not only prove that they are good applications, but they must also offer enough additional benefits beyond what is provided by default the solutions designed by Apple. The bar for such applications is high in many ways.

Cardhop for iOS is a new application for Flexibits, Cardhop for iOS, which serves as a companion for the iPhone and iPad to the contacts application launched for Mac in late 2017. Powered by a Natural language input system, Cardhop includes many differentiate it from the Apple Contacts application and pose a serious threat to the default configuration of iOS.

Getting started with Cardhop is extremely easy because it exploits your existing contacts database, as configured in the Settings application. All the contacts you see in Apple Contacts will also be automatically displayed in Cardhop once the authorization is given.

At the heart of Cardhop's call is a feature that is not surprising in a Flexibits application: a powerful natural language input system. Fantastical, the popular calendar application of Flexibits, has for years already included natural language input among its main strengths, and Cardhop proves that it is just as powerful when applied to contacts .

Near the bottom of the Cardhop interface on almost every screen of the application you will find a search box. Typing in this search field using natural language allows you to quickly enter new contacts, add new data points to existing contacts or trigger an action that touches one of your contacts.

In simple terms, Cardhop's natural language system works extremely well. When you add a new contact, you can simply type the person's name, email, phone number, and so on. in a continuous string, then click on "Add a contact" when done. You do not need to specify the type of data you enter (for example, your phone, address, e-mail, etc.) because Cardhop will recognize it for you. When typing, your data will automatically be transferred to the folder. Appropriate fields of a new contact created by the application with each keystroke. It's very fun to watch. Just as Fantastical's event creation system far exceeds Apple's calendar of events, Cardhop's contact capture method is significantly superior to Apple's contacts.

As I mentioned, Cardhop's natural language system not only creates new contacts, but also adds them to existing contacts and triggers actions. In the first case, you must enter the name of the targeted contact in the search field, but even then, Flexibits simplified the process by recognizing the abbreviations instead of requiring a full spelling and offering several immediate suggestions based on of your seizure. When you find the right contact, click "Update Contact" to add the search field data to their contact.

Actions are an interesting way to make contacts with your contacts. Similar to the way Apple's contacts allow you to give a person a message, search his place of residence or make a call – while pressing the buttons saved in someone's contact – you can do the same in Cardhop, but without having to locate the contact card of a person first. Instead, you can simply type in the search field what you want to do – call, e-mail, FaceTime, tweet on or any other supported option – with the person's name and trigger an action directly to from the search field. The actions are also available in two other places: in a special keyboard line present at each keystroke and in your main contact database, you can access it by swiping the name of the contact.

Besides all the obvious actions supported, there is one type of action that I wanted to mention that is good to have: copy. By typing "Copy" then the name of someone (or, more likely, just the beginning of his name), Cardhop will present a map presenting the various contact details of this contact, all of which are accompanied by a button next to which the specific data are copied. your clipboard. It's a small thing, but it can be very useful regularly.

Although I expect most users to initiate communication not from their contacts application, but from the appropriate communication applications such as Messages, FaceTime or Mail, the actions are always an interesting option, and with a slight change of habit could make Cardhop a powerful one-stop shop for your communication needs. Just like Drafts is "where the text begins," Cardhop could be "where communication begins."

Cardhop's natural language input system, and the power it provides, is the strong point of the application. However, many other subtleties make Cardhop an attractive alternative to Apple's Contacts.

Anniversary tab. One of Cardhop's top five browsing tabs is an Anniversaries screen, which lists the upcoming birthdays of your contacts in a simple and well organized presentation. Although many people have outsourced the management of birthdays on Facebook, if you are like me and do not use Facebook anymore, Cardhop offers a valuable utility to help you better remember the special days of your loved ones.

Group management. For inexplicable reasons, Apple has decided that the ability to create and manage groups of contacts is the type of business task that only a Mac should be able to handle. Fortunately, Flexibits takes a different approach. In Cardhop, you can create new contact groups, edit existing ones, and add or delete users from groups. You can also filter the main view of your contacts to show only certain groups, or even exclude them.

Visit card. You can create a custom business card in Cardhop, which will load on the iPhone each time you turn your phone into landscape orientation. This business card can exclude all data points from your personal contact, such as your address for example. The business card has a QR code that can be scanned by the person you just met, or an option to share it manually via the sharing sheet.

Search in the directory. Cardhop integrates with your existing contacts database on iOS, but the app also supports access to external contacts directories stored on services such as G Suite or Exchange. In Cardhop Settings ⇾ Directories, you can add a directory to easily locate personal and business contacts.

And much more. Navigating the Cardhop Settings screen exposes many other options that make the app ideal for experienced users who want additional control over their applications. You can configure Siri shortcuts for a multitude of application functions, customize keyboard actions and quick actions that I mentioned earlier, set notifications for upcoming birthdays, adjust the color theme of the application, enable automatic detection of the clipboard for data entry and also set the application to instantly trigger the search field when you start Cardhop.

The only thing I can say in my life with Cardhop is that the method of viewing contact photos of the application varies slightly from that of Apple. So, even if the same Contacts images are visible in Cardhop, they are cropped so that in some cases you can not see the important details of a person. Many of my contact photos look good in Cardhop, but a few unfortunately have the top of their head truncated. Hopefully, Flexibits will be able to fix this problem in future updates.

Like many of Apple 's built – in applications, Contacts on iOS is not a bad application, but it lacks a lot of powerful user features and seems largely stagnant in terms of development. This is good for the average user, but its limitations offer many opportunities to third parties like Flexibits. And capitalize that they have.

Cardhop is a replacement for Contacts that successfully resolves the limitations of the Apple application, anchored in a powerful natural language input system and a host of smart features that are missing from Contacts. This is the ultimate example of a great alternative to a third party: while the default Apple application is suitable for many, Cardhop brings extra power and flexibility what other users are looking for.

Cardhop is available on the App Store as a universal app for iPhone and iPad (where it supports Split View and all sizes of iPad Pro). Its normal price is $ 4.99, but for a limited time it is available for $ 3.99.

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