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Evernote Hello shares cooties and contacts

New contact collection app from multiplatform notebook software vendor adds people as part of your narrative.

No, it's not Windows' Metro contact book, it's Evernote's new Hello, a new way to keep track of people you meet.

"I don't want to touch your phone. I might as well put my hand in your pocket."

That's what a co-worker said when I asked him to check out the contact-adding feature of Evernote Hello, the contact exchange iPhone app that Evernote launched this morning at LeWeb.

With Hello, the idea is that when you meet someone, you have that person enter their own information on your phone so you can find them later. They also get to take their own picture, and the fun UI twist here is that they just hold the phone up, and it captures four shots in succession.

You can also enter a person's information yourself, but the app is clearly geared for this new social dance, during which you swap phones temporarily.

If you can get past the potential germ-sharing issue, there are good features in this contact collection app.

If I hand you my phone, and you see this, please give me your digits. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

First, the philosophy here is that the people you meet form a narrative, not a contact list. Your Hello "address book" is a visual mosaic of people's faces. It's easy to scan--which is good, since there is no search function and no integration with your phone's address book. However, every new person entry gets synced into your Evernote notebook with a "Met so-and-so at..." heading, so can find them with your notebook's powerful search.

The app is aware of your phone's calendar, though, and you can add anyone who's marked as an attendee at a meeting to your Hello mosaic of people. This could be helpful, if you want to remember, beyond what's in your appointment book, the people most important to you in your day.

Evernote Hello is visually stunning, joining other mobile beauties I've covered recently: Path, Flipboard, Color, and Oink.

The app is location-aware, and it groups people you meet by time and place: When you bring up the record of a person, it'll show you other people you met then and there. It'll also link to related Evernote notes you entered (it knows what's related, again, by correlating time and place of notes).

Evernote Hello does some of its social dynamics right. For example, if a new contact enters an e-mail address, the service will automatically send that person a "nice to meet you" note with your picture and contact info.

Socially, Evernote Hello is a bit too weird to become mainstream today. But Evernote CEO Phil Libin does goofy interaction design like this to draw attention to Evernote apps (see also, Evernote Peek), and I bet that Hello will soon get an alternative, less out-there process for data entry.

Personally, I'd like it to support this process: You meet someone new, and with the app, you take their picture and then the picture of the business card they give you. Business cards aren't going away anytime soon.

I like where Evernote is going with this app, even if not this first version. The concept of meeting people as a private narrative is great.

Evernote also just launched a new meals-as-narrative app, Evernote Food. We'll have a look at that app shortly.