If my phone's so smart, why is my address book so dumb?

We used to jot down a friend's address and phone number in moleskin address books, erasing or crossing out old information whenever he or she moved.

The digital age made tracking our friends easier, but we still spend a lot of time manually updating our address books or we let Facebook become the guardian of our social network.

Why are address books so dumb when so many people carry smartphones? asks Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mrinal Desai. He and Jorge Ferreira want to –- ahem –- address that problem with a slick new iPhone app that keeps you connected to your friends because they are the ones who update their contact information when it changes.

Called Addappt (pronounced "adapt"), its creators are marketing it as an always up-to-date private address book that you don’t have to update. Your friends do that. Change your contact information in the app and it automatically updates all of your friends’ address books on mobile, desktop, iCloud, etc.

"We just felt that the address book has not adapted to smartphones and the new mobile era," Desai said.

He says they targeted the address book since it's really our original -- and most important -- social network.

Yet adding a new contact is laborious. Essentially people have to keep manually entering or scanning over and over again the same information that already exists in electronic form.

Desai concedes Addappt is not the first to try to smarten up the address book. But he says Addappt has some advantages. It does not store your address book on its servers and it does not spam your friends. It also pledges not to sell your information to anyone. And it’s available for free in the App Store.

Desai argues that it's better to have control of your address book than to let Facebook or another conglomerate control it.

"Simply put, we are connecting the very first social network we all created in physical offline address books, contact information of all which we owned, before technology showed up," he said.


After a billion, what's next for Facebook?

Is Mark Zuckerberg in over his hoodie as Facebook CEO?

Facebook upsets some by seeking to take away users' voting rights

Follow me on Twitter @jguynn


Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World