Humin review: A big change to a small core feature
A new app that replaces your iPhone dialer gives you more ways to search contacts and provides more information about each contact so you can make connections easily.
Humin Phone and Contacts is a replacement app for the default iPhone dialer app -- replacing the icon with the white phone on a green background that you touch every time you want to make a call with the Humin dialer.
Though it might feel strange to change the most fundamental function on your iPhone, Humin makes your contact list more social by using location services, social networks, and your calendar to bring in more information about the people you communicate with.
It's also important to note that this a significant change to one of Apple's core iOS functions. Obviously, making calls is at the heart of every phone, and Apple allowing a third party to replace a core feature is a pretty big deal. It's the first app I've used that takes over a core function of my iPhone, and after using it for awhile, I think it does an excellent job.
Getting started with Humin
When you first launch the app, you'll be required to give access to your iPhone contacts, then you'll need to connect with social networks. Humin uses your social networks and your location to give you more information about your contacts. When you're finished connecting to social networks, you'll see your Humin contact list.
Using the iOS default calling app, making a call requires you touch the icon, quickly search through contacts by swiping or touching a letter from the alphabet on the right to find the person you want to call. You can also use a search field at the top to find a contact.
A new way to find contacts
With Humin, the experience is different. While you can still swipe through your contacts, there is no alphabet indicator on the right, making the search field your primary method for tracking down a contact. You'll also notice that each contact has their Facebook photo as a thumbnail and if you touch and hold the thumbnail, you can swipe it right to call, or left to text the contact.
But here's where Humin is uniquely useful. You can also find a contact based on natural language such as "the person I met last week" or "my friend who works at Google." Humin uses your social networks, tracks when you add contacts, and accounts for your current location to find the people you're looking for. Maybe you can't remember a name, but know the contact went to University of California, Berkeley. With Humin you can type in "studied at UC Berkeley" and the app will display all contacts who went to college at UC Berkeley (as long as they have that info on Facebook).
More info for each contact
By connecting to social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, Humin can display more information about each contact than what you get in your iOS contact list. When you touch a contact thumbnail, a profile page opens up with a large picture of your contact at the top and buttons at the bottom to call, text, email, or FaceTime the contact. But in the main part of the screen you'll see where your contact lives, any recent or upcoming meetings with them and friends you have in common.
Humin is also location-aware, so it can present you with other people in your area for a spontaneous meet-up.
There's also a verify button that will send a message to the contact to make sure they update their information so everything is up to date. The app will also automatically merge contacts you've entered twice so you don't have to worry if your original iOS contact list was a little messy.
Humin can handle voicemail too
You can also have Humin be your place to get voicemail, but it takes a few steps to get it set up. You'll first need to verify your phonenumber through a text message code from Humin. From there you'll need to make sure the app's notifications are set to on (so you receive the voicemail alert on screen) by going to the Notifications section of your iPhone settings and turning Humin notifications to the on position. From there, you'll receive a notification from Humin for a missed call and voicemail, and touching it will bring you back to Humin.
Recent calls are a problem
One definite drawback that will require you to go back to the default iOS phone, is if you want to see recent calls. Since Humin is an app that puts a different face on your default iOS dialer it can only track incoming calls if the person leaves a voicemail (as long as you've gone through the setup process I mentioned above). When your phone rings, it still goes through the default app, so recent calls will only show up there. The reason is that Humin is not an integrated part of iOS; it's just an app, so there are limitations to what it has access to in your iPhone.
Humin is a great idea that connects your contact lists with social networks, your calendar, and location services to give you more information about the people you communicate with. It has an efficient interface for texting or calling a contact with a swipe of your finger and it gives you tons of information for each contact by drawing from social networks. With the added info, it's also great for finding contacts with natural language ("Worked at Twitter") even when you can't remember their name.
The only drawback is that it's not a complete replacement for the dialer. It can't track recent calls because it still uses the iOS phone and will only show you callers who left a voicemail.
Still, Humin's clean interface and new ways to search contacts are definitely useful, and the information you get from social networks and location services make it more useful than the default iOS dialer.