Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Address Book App Brewster Now Factors in Location, Fixes “Favorites”

Brewster, the smartphone app that pulls all of your digital address books into one place, has introduced some new features meant to make your digital life management that much easier — even if you’ve got thousands of “friends” in those contact lists.

The free iPhone app now factors in your location so that nearby friends pop up at the top of your contact list. And searching by keyword through your Brewster address book now offers more refined results.

For example, a search for “running” might previously have brought up lists of people who enjoy jogging and run their own companies, without any obvious distinction between the two. Now, users can see more details about each contact.

The app also has improved its algorithm for “Favorites,” a section of the app that shows who you contact the most in a colorful, tile-like photo format. Early on, some users said that the app wasn’t really showing them who their favorite contacts were; Brewster says it has now tweaked the app so that Favorites are truly top contacts. Favorites also shows your last method of communication with that person.

Brewster is the creation of New York-based entrepreneur Steve Greenwood, formerly of Facebook-acquired Greenwood says he had been formulating the idea for Brewster for five years before the product launched, using his extensive Excel spreadsheet (with more than 7,000 personal contacts and 30 category tabs) as a test case for the app.

It’s one of at least a few start-ups looking to tackle contact-management. My AllThingsD colleague Liz Gannes points out in her interview with Greenwood that apps like Xobni and Cue also offer “smart” address books. As consumers gather more and more contacts across multiple email and social networking accounts (far exceeding Dunbar’s number), some are turning to helpful utility apps like these to help them keep track of people.

But after the Path debacle last February, privacy is, naturally, of utmost importance to app users who are asked to give apps like Brewster access to accounts like Gmail, Facebook and Twitter upon signing up.

Brewster launched in July to a warm reception in the tech start-up world, but hit a small bump in the road early on. That same week, Brewster briefly exposed the contact information of some users, including actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher. The company quickly fixed the bug.

Greenwood has insisted that users’ contact information should remain private, and that the company will not sell user data.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik