iPhone Poor contact management when using multiple accounts

Discussion in 'iOS 12' started by acousticbiker, Dec 8, 2018.

  1. acousticbiker macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2008
    I use a personal Gmail account and work Exchange account.

    I appreciate the ability to determine the account that a calendar event is tied to when creating it and switch easily after it’s been created by editing the event.

    For contacts, however, there is no ability to choose the account when creating or changing the account after one is created.

    It is very inconvenient to have to go to Settings to check on the default Contacts account before each time I create a contact (slightly less inconvenient to just show the Group from the account you want to add to in the Contacts app before adding). Seems like it should have been implemented by now, which makes me wonder is this a technical limitation? (are contacts somehow handled differently and with less flexibility than calendar events)
  2. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I'm probably not understanding your concern properly so I apologize if this isn't what you mean.

    If you mean why can you easily switch the account of a calendar and not a contact it's because the of the data.

    A calendar event is a transparent media type file that is just sent. If you open a calendar event file container (.ics) with a text editor you'll not only see its in plain text you could figure out the dates and times of the event. Supporting software would just plug it in.

    Contact data contains a lot more data with much of it being binary. But the reason it's not as easy to just swap an attached linked accounts address aside from data compression is because contact data is stored within a database. Individual contacts needs to be exported into a standard format (.vcf typically) so it can potentially be imported into a different database.

    Nothing is ever easy right?

    If you sync a contact with the wrong account I typically 'share' the contact to 'save to files' so it exports with a .vcf (vCard), delete the contact, goto groups and switch to the right account, open the vCard from files, save as new or existing contact and then avoid doing that again.
  3. NoBoMac Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jul 1, 2014
    Hell! I'd be happy with Contacts being able to assign Groups to a new contact without having to jump through hoops.

    It's an app that has been pretty much ignored from day one of iOS.
  4. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    I'm going to disagree with the premise offered in the OP. I feel it's a protection to the iOS user/consumer in this regard. I use an Exchange Server and O365 for work, iCloud's version of vCAL for personal use, and GMail's version of I-don't-know-what-to-call-it for junk/crap/mailing lists.

    None of these "services" use an identically-mapped data set. Google's offerings have several dozen - yes, several dozen - data fields that don't exist and aren't mapped one-to-one to vCAL or Apple's version of vCAL or Exchange. Heck, even editing a contact on iOS gets different results on macOS.

    I've posted something like this here in these forums before, stick to a unified platform with contacts. I use the "Exchange" format for almost all of my business contacts. I never use the "Gmail" format for contacts - the 256-odd tagged fields in Gmail contacts aren't mapped one-to-one anywhere else. My contact groups are sandboxed so that they don't get bunged up, and I suggest - strongly - to keep formatted contact groups segregated. It just doesn't work across platforms...

    To test out what I'm blathering about, copy the same Exchange contact and the Gmail contact to your Desktop. Open them in Excel as "text" files or "CSV" files - you'll get the gist of what I'm whining about.
  5. acousticbiker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 28, 2008
    Even in that case, it would still be more user-friendly to allow choosing which account a new contact is assigned to without first having to go to Settings to determine which happens to be in 'Default' setting at that moment
  6. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    I'd agree, but I'm not into supposition or conjecture. I deal with what options I have and - I'm old - either I code it myself, deal with what options I have in front of me, or compile a converter. No offense intended, but this bit is nothing new, going back to the days that Gmail first started up in 2006 - I was running Exchange Server back then and noted the incompatibilities. My advice is to just stay within the ecosystem or deal with the incompatibilities. Google's contact format has changed or been modified over 3 dozen times since I started using their products (I document this stuff for the company I own and run), MS has modified their "Exchange" IMAPI format for contacts once in that timeframe. Neither has been compatible since Day 1, both companies are pretty much butting heads over this.

    I write and maintain my own drag-and-drop converter for clients that send us the dreaded "Gmail" account contact info - it's easier to just type it in than bother with any automated means to convert one format to the other. Yes, it would be easier - but, welcome to the real world...

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5 December 8, 2018