WriteThat.Name Keeps Your Gmail Contacts Up-to-Date

Keeping an email address book up-to-date is a fairly labor-intensive task, which is why we’ve seen the launch of a number of products that attempt to automate the process, such as Xobni, Plaxo’s Personal Assistant and Gist. An app joining this crowded market is Kwaga’s WriteThat.Name, which works with Gmail and Google Apps (s goog), automatically scanning incoming emails for the contact information that’s typically contained in email signatures, and then updating the contact database with that information.

Setting it up is straightforward: Authorize the app to work with your Gmail/Google Apps account, and elect to either have your contact details updated automatically or manually. WriteThat.Name will then scan incoming emails looking for contact information (note: it only works for emails received after the point of signing up, it doesn’t scan through your existing inbox). If you choose the manual option, you’ll get a daily email asking you to confirm contact updates before adding them to the address book, as shown in the screenshot above. You can click “Update” to accept the new details, or “Check” to compare the updated entry against the existing one, with the option to edit the entry after accepting the changes:

Choosing the manual option is probably the more sensible way to go until you feel comfortable that the app won’t make any serious errors, but it’s worth noting that WriteThat.Name says it will never delete any contact information, and also that Gmail has an option to restore your contacts database to any point in time up to a week previously, so any mix-ups could be easily corrected. The app works pretty well, judging by my limited testing, with no errors so far. It’s worth pointing out that contacts are only updated once per day (so you only get one daily email if you choose the manual option), and the app will only update existing contacts; it doesn’t create new ones. Of course, in order to work, WriteThat.Name needs full access to your incoming emails, which may be a concern. Kwaga has a comprehensive privacy policy and says it doesn’t store email contents.

WriteThat.Name costs $3 per month, or $20 per year, per Gmail/Google Apps account; the first month is free. That’s cheaper than Plaxo’s Personal Assistant tool, which costs around $7 per month, but then Kwaga’s app will only update the address book with information that’s contained in the emails your receive. Unlike many “social CRM”-type apps that we’ve covered, such as Gist and Plaxo Personal Assistant, WriteThat.Name doesn’t attempt to tie email addresses to data from publicly available data sources, like directories and social networks. WriteThat.Name is perhaps more similar to tools such as gwabbit and Copy2Contact, Windows apps that can automatically extract contact information from Outlook (s msft) emails. Personally, I’m left wondering how useful WriteThat.Name’s approach will be compared to some of its social CRM competition; many of the people who email me nowadays have pretty sparse (or even non-existent) email signatures.