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Four apps better than your phone's built-in address book

Download these apps to upgrade your contacts list.

The address book is at the core of your phone. Since most of us don't memorize phone numbers anymore, it's a crucial tool for keeping touch with friends and family through phone calls, texts and emails.

Unfortunately, the built-in contacts app that comes with the iPhone or Android phones hasn't changed in years. It can be frustrating to edit, fraught with duplicates and lacking the most up-to-date information. Luckily, there are several address book apps out there that offer a better alternative with innovative features and modern designs.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET


Free, iOS and Android

Addappt has one goal; to keep your contacts always up to date. If your address book is full of outdated phone numbers or emails, this app promises to fix that.

It works like this: You download the app and connect with your friends and professional contacts who are also using Addappt. Any changes they make to their contact information, including job title, phone number, email address and social profiles, are automatically synced to your phone. The best part is that all of this happens behind the scenes, so you don't have to lift a finger.

The only downside to Addappt is that your friends, family and other contacts need to be using the app too to get the best effect. However, you can use Addappt for all of your contacts and still get updates from those who use it.

What's great: Any changes your friends make to their contact info are synced to your phone.

What's not: Automatic updates are only available if your friends also use Addappt.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET


Free, Android and iOS

Like Addappt, CircleBack wants to help you keep your address book current and clutter-free, but it works a little differently. It analyzes your contacts list to find duplicates and any potentially missing information, then gives you simple actions to fix them. With just a few taps you can merge all of your duplicate entries or verify someone's job title or email address. I'm also a fan of how contact information is presented, with a clean design that doesn't look cluttered.

CircleBack also comes a few special extras, including a tool to create new contacts from an email signature and by scanning a business card. You can also create your own handy contact card that you can share with anyone who wants your information. Finally, you can add your social and email accounts to automatically import contacts.

What's great: The app makes it feel like a game to keep your contacts up to date.

What's not: There's no way to favorite a contact to quickly contact them.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Simpler Contacts

Free, Android and iOS

Forget all the extras, Simpler is a streamlined contacts manager with just enough features to do the job, and no superfluous extras. Your contacts are clearly laid out with colorful icons and you can filter your list by company, birthday and other parameters.

The favorites tab shows a grid of favorite contacts with one button to call or text someone. There's a dialer in the app too, so you don't need to jump your phone's dialer app to place a call. You can create groups of contacts too, so that you can email or text them together without entering every contact individually.

What's great: You don't need to sign up for an account to use the app, though doing so unlocks some extra features.

What's not: You can only merge 10 duplicate contacts for free before you'll have to pay for the $4.99 premium version to continue.

Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Ready Contacts

Free, Android only

Ready keeps your favorite people at your fingertips with a modern take on speed dial. The app opens to a large grid of your favorite and most frequently contacted people with shortcuts to call and text them. Tap their photos or names to see all of their contact information, plus call, calendar event and text message history. From the main screen, you can also swipe to the left to see a complete history of calls and texts from your phone.

You can of course view and manage all of your contacts too (not just your favorites). Ready makes this easy with a sideways scrolling list of people and a grid of letters you can use to jump to a specific name. The app also comes with a dialer, so you can use it for all of your phone calls.

What's great: Ready's speed-dial feature shaves off seconds when placing a call or sending a text.

What's not: You can't edit contact's details in the app -- it kicks you out to your phone's built-in app.