Like Apple Maps and Notes before it, I’ve finally found an app that performs the functions of my iPhone’s phone app better than Apple’s native offering. For the past few weeks I’ve been playing with Contrast’s Contact Center, and based on my usage I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon.
Launching today, Contact Center acts like speed dial built for the way we communicate with others on smartphones today. You’re given a set of customizable tiles that can be edited to show common functions, like calling, texting, or sending GIFs, or to show your favorite contacts. I’m not one to use a bunch of different apps for messaging or talking on the phone, so I decided to use the space to show the six or so people I frequently communicate with outside of work — family, the roommates, and my significant other.
Instead of opening the phone app, going to the recent calls tab, and scrolling to find the person I want to chat with, they’re right there as soon as I open the app. If my sister (an avid user of Pinterest and Tumblr) sends me a GIF of a French Bulldog puppy jumping into its owner’s arms, I don’t have to rush off to a web browser to go find something to send in response, as the app has a GIF-search function powered by Giphy. I can simply pick one, choose my sister from contacts, and it’s sent over through iMessage.
There are ads in the app by default, but their placement at the bottom of the screen isn’t too obtrusive. Unless you’re the kind of person who jumps from text to voice to FaceTime and back, you can fill up the app’s home screen with functions and favorite contacts without putting any near the ad where you might accidentally press it. If you absolutely can’t stand them, there’s always the option to get rid of ads for a few bucks with an in-app purchase.
If anything, I’m surprised that this wasn’t already an app. Before using Contact Center I was a big fan of Contrast’s Launch Center Pro, an app that uses a similar interface to let you quickly jump to common tasks, like tweeting the last photo you took or posting a selfie to Facebook. I’ve always felt that Launch Center perhaps offers too many features for most people to “get it,” while Contact Center offers very clear advantages for a very specific group of use cases: you need to contact someone, and you need to do it quickly.
You can see Contact Center in action in the video below: