First look: 6degrees

First look: 6degrees
(Left) File photo of a man using his smartphone; (right) screenshot of the 6degrees app.

One of the biggest hassles of changing phone numbers is letting your friends know, and getting them to change it in their records.

I have held on to my existing mobile phone number for almost a decade. Not just because it contains plenty of 8s (for good fortune), but also in case old friends and contacts decide to call me.

A local start-up has come up with an app which may solve this problem. The 6degrees app is free to download from the Google Play Store (soon, for iOS users too).

Once installed, it reads your phone book and copies the entries into a new cloud-connected Live Contacts. It does this for everyone who signs up with 6degrees.

Then, whenever you use the app to update your contact information, all contacts in the phone book who are also on 6degrees will automatically receive your updated information.

An obvious question is whether you trust 6degrees to manage your personal contact information. The same is true of apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and Line, which also search your phone book and connect you to other users who have installed the respective app.

Once you have installed the app, you can search via Live Contacts and use the app's dialler to make calls instead of the default phone dialler.

The app also has the standard list of favourite callers and a call log.

A clever feature is its ability to merge duplicate contacts. Simply select all duplicate contacts and hit the merge button.

The app successfully merged multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses of three of my friends - each of whom had three or four duplicate entries - into a single entry in my smartphone's address book.

Merging the contacts, I noticed, also updated the native phone book in my phone automatically. This made me concerned because I did not know if it would affect the synchronisation between my native phone book and Google Contacts.

In fact, I did experience problems with Google Sync shortly after I duplicated some contacts and had to wipe my phone and reinstall everything. However, at this juncture, I am unsure what the cause was.

There is even a feature which automatically searches your phone book for duplicates and deletes them automatically.

Apart from this, the app is rather cool. It can also automatically add your Facebook account information to Live Contacts. There are plans to add other social media accounts.

If you switch phones, simply install the app on your new phone and get Live Contacts synced to your new device. Like Facebook, you can also search for entries of your Live Contacts and ask to be connected. If you do not want to be searchable by others, there are privacy settings to hide your information.

There is much promise in this app, but I would be cautious about merging duplicates until it has been tested more rigorously to ensure that it does not affect your Google Sync, especially if you decide later on to delete the app.

This article was published on May 7 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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