Tech Tip: Contacts automatically merging on Android phones

Some users report  that not all PC contacts sync to their Android device.  Or, contacts with similar names are not synchronizing at all.

Here’s what one user reported:

For instance, in Outlook contacts, I have a Jon Lewis, a Jonathan Lewis, and a John Lewis — all with different organizations and different contact info. But CompanionLink only sends the “Jonathan Lewis” info to my Droid.

This might be due to one of the “features” of Android.  The device automatically merges similar contacts with the goal of merging potential duplicates.

Here’s how to fix for contacts you feel are missing or automatically merged by Android:

1. Go to the contact in question on the device.
2. Select the “Menu” option.
3. Select the “Separate contacts” option.

This will separate each contact as its own entity.  In the John Lewis example above, you will now have three contacts: 1) Jon Lewis, 2) Jonathan Lewis, and 3) John Lewis.

Sort order for names on Android phones

Name sort options for Google and Android phones

Google combines the the first and last names into one “Name” field.  For example, if you had a contact record with a first name of “Bob” and last name of “Smith”, Google will combine that into Bob Smith.

Android phones (like Droid, Nexus One, CLIQ, etc.) also do this.  But what if you need to sort by “last name, first name” format?

CompanionLink has a new Name Order feature that addresses this with Google and Android-based phones.  Users can choose which format they’d like contacts to appear on their Android phone.

Ford SYNC for contact and calendar management

Ford SYNC contact and calendar management in vehicles

Credit: Ford Motor and CNet.com

Ford announced widespread availability of their Ford SYNC technology in vehicles in 2010 and beyond.  The innovation puts contact management, multimedia, and apps on the dashboard of vehicles.  Voice-activated commands ensure your hands aren’t distracted while driving.

Included in the Ford SYNC suite of software is a phone book.  At the moment, it’s not clear if other productivity apps like calendar, tasks and notes will be included.  However, Ford is giving access to their API to 3rd-party developers to create custom apps in vehicles that have Ford SYNC.  For example, CompanionLink could use the APIs to build a business-like suite of office productivity tools that includes custom calendar, tasks, and notes modules.  Using the voice-activated features of Ford SYNC, users could then dictate calendar events, tasks and notes.

Another neat feature of Ford SYNC is its built in Wi-Fi and hot-spot capabilities.  Passengers can use Wi-Fi to access the internet when the car is parked.

Using this built-in Wi-Fi capability, CompanionLink will be able to synchronize data between office PC software (like Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc.) and the in-vehicle dashboard.  For example, if a new contact or calendar event is created on the office PC, CompanionLink could transfer that data to the phone book or calendar app in the vehicle.  And vice-versa.

CompanionLink will sync PC with Nexus One


Credit (Nexus One): Google

CompanionLink announces two-way PC sync with Nexus One on the same day Google unveils the device to customers.  PC users who need to get their contacts, calendar, tasks and notes onto the device have two options – wired USB sync and wireless sync.

Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, GroupWise, ACT!, GoldMine, and Palm Desktop are support.

Visit companionlink.com/android for full details on the sync options available.

Android’s growth

AdMob recently published a chart that shows the rapid  of Android-based phones.  The data is based on their advertising network (which serves ads to mobile devices).

Source: AdMob

CompanionLink has supported two-way sync with Android-based phones since day one.  More recently, CompanionLink released USB synchronization with Android devices.  This method of sync does not required data to be hosted in the cloud (such as Google).

Droid user tip to show all contacts

Droid 2.0 users who use CompanionLink USB to sync data may notice that some, or perhaps all, of their contacts do not display on the device after synchronizing. The problem is that the display options on the Droid will typically hide the user’s contacts based on group/category membership. Here is how to fix this problem:

1. On the Droid, open Contacts, then go to Menu -> Display Options.
2. Tap the name of the primary contacts account. This will cause the account group list to display.

– To display categorized contacts, select “System group: My Contacts”.

– To display uncategorized contacts, select “All other contacts”.

NOTE: To filter the display so that it only show certain groups (categories), uncheck “System group: My Contacts”, then check the name(s) of the specific groups you want to display.

How to use Google to get free wireless sync between PC and phone

Google is no longer just a web-based email service.  It’s an enabler of data; it’s a mobilizer of data.  Harness its power, and you’ll get a suite of free tools and mobile services.  Business users can leverage the tools to mobile their PC data to any smartphone.

If you use PC software to organize your contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes, you can leverage the power of Google to mobilize this data to your phone.  All you need is a way to link you PC software to Google.  The rest is history (and free).

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Get a free Google or Gmail account.  www.google.com/mail

2. Download a 14-day evaluation version of CompanionLink.  This software will link your PC data to your Google account.  CompanionLink supports Outlook, Lotus Notes, GroupWise, Palm Desktop, ACT!, and GoldMine data.

3. If you have an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Symbian S60 phone, enable Google Sync to work with your phone.  This will sync your Google data with your phone.  If you have a Google Android-based phone or Palm webOS phone, do nothing.  Those phones automatically sync with your Google account.

That’s it.  You’ll never pay any monthly charges for wireless sync.  Your only software purchase is for CompanionLink, which is a one-time cost from $39.95 to $99.95 depending on what PC software you’re synchronizing.

Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook works with Premier and Education editions only

Google offers a free plug-in for Google Apps Premier and Google Apps Education users.  The former requires you to pay an annual fee for the Google service.  The latter is for schools, universities, and other educational institutions.

What do users with free Google or Gmail accounts use to sync their data with Outlook?

If you’re looking to sync just your default calendar, Google offers a free solution called Google Calendar Sync.  If you’re looking to sync calendar and contacts, CompanionLink has a solution called CompanionLink for Google.  It also supports multiple calendars, sync to separate Outlook categories, and the ability to exclude personal data from syncing with business data.

Here’s a video on how to configure CompanionLink for Google to sync Outlook with Google in less than 4 minutes.

Direct USB sync with Android-based phones

CompanionLink releases a direct two-way USB sync solution for Android-based phones.  Directly sync PC contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes from desktop software like Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc. with phones like the Motorola DROID.  Direct sync avoids having to host or transfer your sensitive data via the Google cloud.

www.companionlink.com/androidusb

Google Phone coming in 2010

Sync options for Google PhoneSource: CNET and Corey O’Brien via Twitter

Google will launch their branded phone sometime in 2010.  The device will be sold directly to customers as an unlocked GSM device.  This means any SIM card, from any wireless carrier, should work with the phone.  Details of the type of data plan the phones will support on each network are still unclear.

Here’s the CNET article, which links to a number of other sources.

CompanionLink will support two-way sync between PC and Google Phone if the device – like all other Google Android-based phones – runs on the Android OS platform.  CompanionLink will offer both wireless and wired sync.