by James A. Martin

WriteThat.Name Automatically Updates Your Smartphone’s Address Book

Sep 26, 20123 mins

If you’re anything like blogger James A. Martin, you’re not exactly diligent about updating your digital contacts. Thankfully, the WriteThat.Name Web service will do the job for you--with one small caveat.

I’m a fairly organized guy, but I do have my breaking points. Example: A few years ago, I pretty much stopped trying to keep the contacts in my digital address book updated. If a significant new person came into my business or professional life, I’d add them; otherwise, forget it. Since I’m a Gmail user, I’d just do a search of my inbox if I needed to contact someone.

There was a big downside to my slacker attitude, however, and it became apparent when I used my iPhone. When someone I know called my mobile, the caller ID simply displayed a number and not a name because I hadn’t bothered to enter their phone number into my address book. Often, I’d let the call go to voicemail.

I’d probably have lumbered along like that if it weren’t for WriteThat.Name, a Web-based service that automatically updates your contacts using signatures in email messages. Though WriteThat.Name has been around a while, I just discovered it.

WriteThat.Name pulls contact info from Gmail. If you have a corporate plan (which start at $3 per user per month), the service connects with Google Apps, Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes.

I’ve been using WriteThat.Name with my Gmail account for about a week now, and I can’t imagine life without it. In fact, I just jumped from the free plan to the Max Power plan ($45/year, payable through PayPal). Either way, WriteThat.Name is a dead-simple, truly-useful service. There’s no app or software program to install, either (unless you get a corporate plan). Because I sync my iPhone’s address book with my Gmail contacts, the contacts on my iPhone are now constantly updated. And you receive an email every day that tells you which contacts have been updated (see the screen grab below).

WriteThat.Name screen shot

The service uses OpenID and OAuth to access email. The company says no humans read your messages. Instead, a computer program receives a copy of your incoming mail. The software’s detection system looks through the messages for contact details and adds that info to new or existing contacts in your address book. Once the copy of your email is analyzed, it’s automatically deleted, according to WriteThat.Name.

The free plan creates up to 20 new contacts per month. If you need more—and you probably will—you can opt for the Premium plan ($23 annually) or the Max Power plan mentioned above. The Premium plan gives you up to 300 new contacts monthly and you get an unlimited number with Max Power; and Premium updates contacts from up to three email accounts, while Max Power is unlimited.

Max Power also has a “Flashback” feature, which automatically scans email you received in the past and updates your contacts accordingly. Flashback can take up to 48 hours to complete the job, however. WriteThat.Name’s corporate plans can also update contact info in and HighRise Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

One tiny caveat: WriteThat.Name doesn’t always filli in the appropriate contact info in the right address book field, but it hits the mark most of the time.

Now when I’m on my iPhone, I usually know who the heck is calling me. That doesn’t mean I’ll answer, of course.