Does Gmail Suggested Contacts solve the problem?

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

As much as I love my Gmail, there are still a few things that annoy me about it and the main bone of contention centers around the address book.   While Gmail Labs is busy giving us stupid little things like different stars to put next to our emails or “Old Snakey” games, I think they should better spend their time instead improving whats already there – starting with the address book (or contacts, whatever you prefer to call it).

But credit where credit’s due – they have already made one improvement by introducing Suggested Contacts.   This begins to eliminates something which was making me curse in a half-dozen different languages (some of them made-up I have to admit) everytime I opened my address book.

Before Suggested Contacts came along, whenever you sent an email to someone, Gmail would add the email address of that person to your address book (whether you wanted that or not).   Pretty soon, your address book would become a mess and I personally was cleaning it out about 2-3 times a week (and I had better things to do like watch Chad Vader on YouTube).    As you can imagine, many hacked off Gmail users were demanding to Google that they be allowed to have more control over this area of their email.

It looks as if Google has finally listened – sort of.  This is how the new system will work.  When you email someone, their email address will go into a new area of your address book called “Suggested Contacts”.   If you do nothing else, it will stay in Suggested Contacts.   However, if that contact becomes your new super buddy, then you can move it from Suggested Contacts over to My Contacts (which is your regular Gmail address book).

But with all things Google, not everyone has this feature yet.   I only got it this morning and it looks like it is being rolled out VERY slowly.   So keep checking your address book and eventually you will get it.

In a way, Gmail has fixed the problem and NOT fixed the problem.   They’ve fixed it in that the contacts won’t be mixed up with your regular ones (hooray!).   But also, they haven’t fixed the problem in that all they’ve done is move the email addresses to another folder in your address book.   Here’s an idea – how about NOT saving the email addresses at all?    How about giving us an option in the email itself that says “save this contact to address book”?   Why does Google feel they know instinctively what their users are thinking and what they want?

By merely shifting the email addresses to another folder, that’s like kicking the mess under the bed and then telling your partner you’ve cleaned the house up.   You haven’t.   You’re just moving it to another place to make things look better.   That’s all Google has done here.   They’ve kicked the email addresses to another folder and said “look!  problem fixed!”.   Er… no, not quite.   But it’s a good start anyway.   Don’t stop now.

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