Brewster, the relationship-centric contacts app for iPhone, is today releasing a new version — its first major update since launching in July 2012 and then going international — that will take its smart syncing technology to a new level: Brewster now synchronizes with your iPhone contacts, giving you access to your Brewster-created contacts directly through your native Mail, Message and Phone applications — or, in the words of founder Steve Greenwood, “We are now fixing your iPhone contacts.”
When activated, the new Brewster app will add three features to those native apps: updated contact information for all existing contacts; new, large photos for incoming calls; and improved autocomplete for contacts where you might have previously had missing phone numbers and email addresses. The new app works on iOS 5 and above.
I know, there are people out there in the world who keep these things up to date all the time already, but for those of you who live in a world of multiple apps and multiple platforms, and not so much time for contact housekeeping, Brewster’s app may come as a godsend.
It also makes a lot of sense that Brewster would take its technology to the native layer, since these apps are still the main way that the majority of people connect out on their iPhones. This is, in fact, a sign of Brewster tackling what he calls the startup’s “greatest competitor” (i.e., the address book).
With this the first sign of Brewster’s functionality “leaving” its own app and being used elsewhere, it’s worth pondering how else and where else that might appear in the future.
“Relationships are complicated,” Greenwood says. “Part of the problem in contacts has been in trying to make it as seamless as possible,” is how Greenwood explains the larger hurdles with contacts in today’s day and age, where we no longer have single black books that hold all the information we need. Clearly, since Brewster is about amalgamating different, siloed contact information, you can imagine it being extend to those other silos in the future to add more functionality there as well.
These new features will sit on top of the ones that have already helped to boost Brewster’s profile — and attract investment from the likes of Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures. They include the ability to better integrate data from social networks like Facebook with that of your contacts book and calling/email logs to figure out who is in your most recent contact lists, who is growing distant, and who might be most interested in one activity over another.
Brewster is taking today’s update as a moment to also share some numbers on how the app has been used since launch. While it still is not revealing download or total active user numbers, the numbers speak to the kind of data volumes that Brewster is handling, and also how many people we may not have realized are in our circles of contact. Speaking to TechCrunch, Greenwood said that the average Brewster user has more than 1,600 contacts, with each of those having 1 email address, 0.5 phone numbers (that is, half don’t have them) and 11 mutual connections, when based on four other services being “connected” to a user’s Brewster account (four is the average, he says).
The company has not yet released an Android app, but given how big Google’s mobile platform is among smartphone users today, it would be logical to expect that this will be the next step for how Brewster further expands its service.
Another will be further social integration, covering networks like Instagram’s, for example, as well as adding more insights into your existing contact lists — Brewster’s own spin on big data for the consumer market.
One area that Brewster is still not touching, though, is monetization. Greenwood declines to talk about how Brewster may look to generate revenue in the future, and the app remains blissfully free of any ads, privacy T&C’s or charges for now. “There are all sorts of ways for that to play itself out,” he says.