Adjust and prune your phone’s contact list

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Your phone’s Contacts app can be easily treated as a simple address book. But the default versions typically included in Apple’s iOS 15 and Google’s Android 12 can be much more useful – providing specific ringtones, driving directions, birthday reminders and more – if you take the time to flesh out entries for your favorite people. Here is a quick guide.

Apple’s iOS Contacts app and Google’s free contacts for Android include a map for your own details. It may sound strange, but the information you provide is useful when working with your phone’s assistant app or when using auto-fill fields in Safari and Chrome browsers. For example, specifying family relationships on your personal contact card helps Siri or the Google Assistant when you say “Call Mom,” though you’ll probably need to verbally confirm the relationship with the Assistant.

Credit…Apple; google

To find your card on iPhone, open the Contacts app. If you don’t see it at the top of the list, tap the + icon to set it up. Select your card and tap Edit. Tap “add related name” and choose relationship tags for family members in your contacts. In the Medical ID area, you can designate an emergency contact visible on your phone’s lock screen in case of incapacitation.

Credit…Apple; google

In Google contacts, tap your Google account profile icon in the top right corner, select Contacts app settings, choose Your info and tap Edit contact to fill in your details. On many Google Pixel models, you can designate emergency contacts in Google’s free personal safety app or on the lock screens of other Android phones.

To create a contact on an iPhone or Android phone, open the Contacts app, tap the + button, and fill in the fields. (If you sync your contacts with your computer or an online service like iCloud or Google, new cards appear there too.)

Credit…Apple; google

A contact can be more than just a digital Rolodex card. You can add phonetic pronunciation guides for names, social media IDs, images, short notes (like “vegetarian” or “Bengal fan”), and birthdays; these dates are then added to your iPhone’s optional birthday calendar or Google’s Calendar app for Android.

To update a contact, select it and tap the Edit button in the upper right corner of the iPhone screen or the Edit Contact button in the lower right corner on an Android phone. In edit mode, add new details, like addresses for future travel routes. To add a profile photo, tap the photo icon and choose an image from your phone.

On the iPhone contacts edit screen, you can assign a specific ringtone and text tone to that person. If you want to delete the contact, scroll down the screen and tap Delete contact.

Credit…Apple; google

In Google Contacts on an Android phone, tap the three-dot More menu in the upper-right corner of an open card to access options to assign a specific ringtone, share or delete the contact, and more. (You can remove multiple entries from the main list at once in the More menu: choose Select, tap Unwanted Contacts, and tap the trash can icon.)

Finding multiple entries for the same person? In iOS 15, you can link contacts to hide duplicates. Just open one of the entries and press Edit. Scroll and tap Link contacts, select the other version and tap Link to unify the cards. (If you sync your iPhone contacts with the Contacts app on a Mac, you can also group, delete, and merge entries from your computer.)

Credit…Apple; google

Google Contacts includes a Merge and Fix command to clean up duplicates. Tap the Menu icon in the upper left corner, choose Merge & Fix and follow; (the tool is also available for Google Contacts on the web, as is the ability to label contacts.) If you prefer to merge contacts manually, tap the More menu in the top-right corner and choose Select to select entries from the list. Tap the More menu again and choose Merge.

Now that your contacts have been updated, put them to work. For example, you can add an iOS widget to your iPhone home screen for quick access to your favorite friends. On many Android phones, you can save a contact shortcut to your home screen from the Google Contacts menu.

Credit…Apple; google

The option to share a map makes it easy to text or email coordinates to others. Tell your phone’s assistant to open a specific contact so you can access one-click shortcuts to make video calls, send e-money and more. Or save time and just tell your assistant to start the call or message for you.

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