After getting a short preview at Mobile World Congress, we’ve now got a chance to try out the latest Android app from WhitePages. It takes the usual caller ID utility, and ties LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to contacts so their latest status pops up with every call. You can also see their local weather and news when checking out their contact details.
Current Caller ID follows a simple, elegant UI design that follows in step with the Android guidelines. The sections on stats add a nice bit of graphical flair to an app that would other be little more than lines afrter lines of text.
There’s a nice home screen widget that shows your most frequently called contacts, though it’s nothing fancy. Tapping a contact gives options to call or text, as well as drill down into more specific details.
The concept of the app may not appeal to the privacy-conscious, who would have to offer access to their call log, contacts, and see frighteningly specific details about the correspondence habits.
Current Caller ID’s biggest selling point are its metrics. It pays meticulous attention to how long you call your contacts, what time of day calls take place, and how it balances compared to texting. Based on that data, Current Caller ID attempts to suggest the best times to call busy contacts. Companies like Gist and Xobni have done similar stuff for e-mail, so it’s good to have something similar for those few that still use their phone for talking. That said, there really aren’t any hooks for e-mail, which make Caller ID a poor address book replacement. Still, tapping Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter links launch into their respective apps.
Preloaded manufacturer social network tie-ins for address books often get pairing wrong, but at least offer a way to manually unlink contacts if it guesses wrong. Current Caller ID unfortunately sticks with the links, which can be particularly irritating if they’re wrong. For example, I’ve got a few other Simon Sages as friends on Facebook, so when taking a call from a line associated with me in the address book, it linked them with the number. Maybe the pairing mechanism has issues with self-referential stuff like that.
Another slight usability complaint is that you can’t switch the weather report from Imperial to Metric; that’s a non-issue for all of you Americans, but it pretty much guarantees that us Canadians and most other countries will be turning off the weather feature.
- Clean layout
- Unable to manually pair contacts
- No e-mail tie-ins
The core app is free, but if you want more than the last 3 months of metrics, you’ve got to pay up. For those that live and die by texting and voice calls, it may be worth the $1.99 for 12 months of tracking, and even casual talkers will probably find the rich caller ID function useful. For those of us that spend the vast majority of our time on the data side of our smartphones (which, let’s face it, is most of us), Current Caller ID may not offer enough to act as a full-time address book replacement.