12 August 2011

Better family connections in Google Contacts

Contacts has steadily improved over time and it lets users add family ties – spouse, mother, child, etc. – for quite some time now. Recently, I noticed some small improvements in this area that make it easier to use these connections. For any relationship added to a contact you now get a small link - ‘Find’ - when hovering over the name of the person. Clicking it will open the address book entry if this relationship is also one of your contacts, otherwise you will see a list of matching search results from the address book. It makes it much easier to navigate through related people without first going to the contact search box.

  • Google Contacts find relative
    Navigate through relationships with the ‘Find’-link
  • Google Contacts custom label for dates
    Add custom labels for dates

Another update took place in the dates section: instead of being restricted to birthdays and anniversaries, you can now choose ‘Custom’ and type in a label yourself, like ‘Wedding day’ or the name of the children for couples. Or simply delete the default ‘Birthday’-text and replace it with something else. Unfortunately, these custom dates are not displayed in Google Calendar under ‘Contacts’ birthdays’, which is a big caveat if you rely on it to remind you of these extra anniversaries. I can’t image it’s that hard to adjust the code behind this feature to include custom labels, so hopefully we will see them in Calendar soon.

Of course, there is still enough room for improvements in Google’s address book – and while we are talking about couples, it would be nice if they shared some fields: home address and phone, child names and birthdays come to mind. This way updating something for one person would be automatically synced to the spouse – less typing for users, less chance for errors, hence easier to keep the data in your address book fresh.


  1. I see these updates in my Google Apps account as well. But that largely depends on the admin...

  2. The thing they should add is auto relations. For example, when I add someone as sister to someone else, it should appear automatically in the other contact.

  3. I also agree about being able to handle couples and families better. Right now I get "Matt's Anniversary" and "Carol's Anniversary" on the same day, when in fact it is really "Matt and Carol's Anniversary". It just looks odd on my calendar.

  4. I don't see the "Find" option. Can someone verify that it is a current feature?

    1. It is. Only now you will see a magnifying glass icon instead on the 'Find' link.