For years, I wanted a button on Gmail messages that said "import all this contact info into your address book." When Kwaga's WriteThat.Name service added just that ability--only without my even having to click a button--I eagerly signed up for a year's worth of service.
Now the French company is taking care of another item that should have been standard with Gmail and its paid-service equivalent in Google Apps: consolidating account data from up to three different Gmail accounts.
The company plans to announce and launch the service Wednesday, but it gave CNET News an early peek. With the new service, people with paid accounts designate one of them a master account and the other one or two as slave accounts. Then any new contact info arriving at the slave accounts then is slurped into the master account.
Unfortunately, it doesn't import slave accounts' existing address book entries, only new ones. But, the company said, "The analysis of the slave address books is a feature we are working on at the moment, and we hope to have this new feature up and active shortly."
Getting an address book that spans multiple accounts would be very useful for me. First and foremost, it partially unifies my annoyingly separate address books, so, for example, when a friend gets a new e-mail address or phone number, I don't have to change it in two places.
Second, with a master address book that includes all my work and personal contacts, I can set my phone to sync with only the master account. That should cut down on duplicate address book entries when I search for people who happen to be in both.
For now, the master account only gets contacts that arrive in the slave accounts--either when a person creates a new entry or when WriteThat.Name extracts the information from an incoming e-mail. That's still helpful, but I'll be more excited when the full import arrives.
Another couple of features would be nice, too: a full sync among different address books so the slave accounts stay up to date, too. And in the likely event of duplicate entries, I'll have to rely on Google's tools to merge duplicate entries in the master address book.
But I'm happy to see progress in automating some of the drudgery of inbox management. Kwaga's multi-account services is available to those who've signed up for premium accounts, which cost $3 a month or $20 a year.
There's another carrot coming to lure people to premium accounts, too--the ability to scour your Gmail archive for contacts and import them, too, the way it imports data from new messages.
"Unfortunately as this time WriteThat.Name does not have the ability to browse and back-intergrate the history of your inbox," the company said. "This is a feature that we are currently working on. However we do not have this available at the time."