Plaxo Releases Improved Social Address Book

Plaxo, the contact synchronization service that we’ve covered previously, has released a much-improved version of its address book, the bread and butter of the app. The first thing you’ll notice is the speed. It’s now so much faster when searching your contacts. It actually starts displaying results as you’re typing the names in the search box in real-time, which is cool. Opening the contact record is also faster, without no delay after double-clicking on a contact.

The other new feature involves categorizing your contacts into groups. Yes, it’s really just another way of creating distribution lists which comes in handy when corresponding with large groups of people at once. You can add your contacts to more than one group and send emails to the group.

Also new is the ability to mark your favorite contacts with a star, which makes them appear on the front page of your address book. All of your top contacts from Gmail (s goog) automatically get the gold star but you can easily unselect it.

Plaxo has also renamed its social streaming “Pulse” service to “Stream.” All of the same functionality remains, it’s just a new name.

These changes point to a good future for one of the elder statesmen of the Web 2.0 era. Plaxo has listened to its users, improved performance and added some useful features. It’s still the best when it comes to importing contacts from other address books such as Gmail, Yahoo (s yhoo) and Outlook (s msft). By the way, you might have missed this feature but you can also import all of your LinkedIn contacts. Just perform a LinkedIn address book export and upload it to Plaxo here.

It’s going to be interesting to see what other socially-aware address book services like Gist and Soocial will do in this space. I think it’s surprising to see that Google still hasn’t done much with Gmail’s address book; I want contact information synchronization and other social networking features to get added, but nothing much has changed. Not yet anyway.

Do you use Plaxo? What do you think of the new address book?

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Photo by PhotoXpress user Andrey Zyk