Eric Johnson

Recent Posts by Eric Johnson

Ringya Makes Organizing Mobile Contact Lists Easier

You’d think contact lists would be a hard field to break into: They’ve been a part of mobile gadgetry since the days of the very first PDA, in 1984.

And yet, contacts still have room to grow. Enter Ringya, an iPhone app which promises to add a layer of context on top of our sprawling lists of co-workers, club members, parent groups and so on.

It works like this: Instead of sorting everyone by name, Ringya files contacts into “rings.” You can share a “ring” with others, meaning the contact info of everyone on the list can be ported from one phone to another in one step.

(Ringya made the list you see to the right before we talked and shared it with me. And no, I have no idea why they gave my co-workers formal prefixes).

Then, if someone who’s sharing the ring adds a new contact, all users will see the new person in the list when they look at the app.

Gal Nachum, Ringya’s co-founder, calls this “inherent virality,” since using the mobile app normally spreads its reach. If a Ringya user shares their ring with someone who’s not a user, the second person gets a personalized text message asking them to download the app.

Unfortunately for some potential users (especially those without iPhones, although an Android version of the app is on the way), this means the organized contact lists are accessible only through the app.

For those who do have the iPhone app, though, Ringya offers a few nifty features. As with the mobile messaging app GroupMe, it’s very easy to contact everyone in a ring at once.

The difference is that while GroupMe lets users text or message each other in-app, Ringya users can contact their lists via a phone call, text message or email.

Especially promising is the context Ringya offers for incoming calls. When someone from one of your rings calls you, Ringya shows whatever info it has about that person (e.g. “Editor at AllThingsD”) before you pick up the phone.

Finally, the app lets users create a new ring by snapping a picture of a paper contact list. This is definitely an effort-saver in theory, especially for organizations with more than a dozen members that don’t put their rosters online. But the import of a short three-person contact list I made took more than 10 minutes to process.

Even with my handwriting, though — which was once generously likened to chicken scratch — all the names and numbers were imported perfectly.

Ringya is a free app available for download from the iOS App Store here.

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