Yahoo Mail Gets Automatically Updating Smart Contact Cards

Yesterday, Google announced a well overdue revamp of its Google Contacts service which introduced a redesign and a handful of new features, and today Yahoo is following up with some contacts-related news of its own. The company is now rolling out new “Contacts Cards” in Yahoo Mail, which are small cards that pop up when you hover over a person’s name in a message, showing you useful information about them like their phone number, title, company, and even links to their social profiles.

Yahoo says the new system is being powered by technology from Xobni, a company it acquired back in 2013. As you may recall, Xobni was among the first companies to develop an email add-on that was able to pull in additional information about your contacts right into your inbox, including data from other social networks.

Today, there’s still a market for similar solutions. For example, LinkedIn also snatched up one of the more popular email plugins in this space with its acquisition of Rapportive the year prior Yahoo’s Xobni buy. One of Rapportive’s more useful features was its ability to pull in profile info from a variety of networks.

Meanwhile, Google’s new focus on its Contacts service involves a further integration between the personal data and notes you have saved in your Google address book, and the contact’s Google social profile information.


In Yahoo’s case, the Contact Cards will display the usual information like phone, title, email and more, along with a photo (or a logo, if it’s a company), and links to social profiles, including Facebook as well as Yahoo-owned Flickr.

One of the interesting things to note about this new Yahoo Mail feature is that the cards are pulling in the correct phone number from your own correspondence with the contact in question.

Explains the company in a blog post announcing the news, “the cards include up-to-date phone numbers that a contact may have emailed to you in the past. Now there’s no need to dig through your old emails or address book to find the right number.” Yahoo further tells us that it performs this phone number search ahead of tie, then uses other data science methods to verify with over 90% accuracy that the phone number belongs to the person who sent it.

Other companies, like Evercontact, for example, offer similar plugins that scan for contact info in email signatures in order to keep address books updated. But Evercontact is a paid service, and Yahoo’s feature is free. However, Yahoo’s automatic updating currently only applies to the phone number field, not the remaining contact data.

The new Contact Cards are actionable, too, allowing you to search for further emails from that person, click to compose a new email to them, add them to your address book, edit their information, or click on the Facebook or Flickr icon to go to their profile on those networks. For the Facebook integration to work, however, users will first have to connect their Yahoo account with their Facebook via Yahoo Mail’s account settings.

Contacts Cards are initially being made available to desktop users in the U.S., and the rollout is gradual, the company says. Other features will be added over time.