August 23, 2014

App Review: PhoneFace

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PhoneFace is an application designed to make it easier and more fun to scroll through your contacts that you communicate with the most. Launching the application brings up a close-to-full screen contact image which you can swipe through (or tilt left or right) and select to call, text or email someone. I state that this is what it is designed to do as my experience was much different. In my case, it appeared to be an application for rebooting my phone or occasionally just locking everything up for a few minutes, neither of which made it easier or more fun for me to call my mom.

I think PhoneFace has a great premise. When I first installed it, I pulled three or four contacts into it to get the feel for it. Easy enough. Could swipe back and forth, so far pretty cool. Called and texted from a couple of the entries with no problems. Then I decided to check out some more features.

One of the additional features is the ability to pull photos from Facebook or Twitter, which also sounded cool. Both of these worked fine as well, although the Facebook took a little figuring out. The application on the phone directed you to go to the PhoneFace website, which would direct you to the application in Facebook, which you then have to add to your Facebook profile, activate, receive an email with a confirmation code, go back on your phone, enter the confirmation code and then you could start accessing photos from Facebook. This is all complicated by the fact that the Facebook application is called PhoneFave, not PhoneFace (which lost me for a bit). Did all of this and was ready to start linking photos, almost. In order to link, the name has to match exactly what the Facebook name is, fair enough. But for all my married female friends, I don’t put their maiden names in, just something like Mary Smith, whereas it is quite common on Facebook for it to be Mary Johnson Smith (Johnson being the maiden name). So to get this done, you have to change the contact name to the exact name, which was also a little difficult for my friends with Polish or Turkish names, yet I persevered! (and it is clearly not PhoneFace’s fault that I have screwy friends with screwy names)

A short 30 minutes later, I had roughly 10 contacts with Facebook pictures and I was ready to give it the real road test. The scrolling feature was a bit sensitive, kept skipping past ones without much effort and this irritation is doubled when tilting to scroll, but I got the hang of it. I could start to see how this would be handy. Such an easy way to look up contacts while driving or some other activity that might make it difficult to pay close attention to what you are scrolling through.

So now I was ready to make a call. Tapped on my buddy’s picture, the sub menu pops up with the contact options, I choose call and put the phone up to my ear. After a little while I look at the phone to see if I missed something and I see the ‘T-Mobile G1′ boot logo staring back at me. I shrug it off, wait for the phone to restart and open the application again, hoping for a different result, which I got. This time I start to scroll through the contacts and it sped through them all and halted halfway through the last two, stayed like that for a minute, then the phone reboots. Try it again, and it does about the same.

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A little leery at this point, I let my phone start up and let it sit for awhile, then I play around with some other applicaitons to make sure everything else is up and running fine. I open PhoneFace, and it’s working fine. Scroll to a friend, and choose to text him. Brings up my texting screen and I type out a message, hit send and the phone is frozen. I wait a while, and it gives me the “Force Close” or “Wait” options. I choose wait–things start going again and I hit send, which promptly restarts my phone…again. And thus ended my PhoneFace excursion.

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, but this was my experience. I would gladly try it again down the road after some upgrades as I think it could be a great application; in theory it has a nice mix of utility and wow factor, which is the key to a really great app. For the first few days with just a few contacts, I had no problems using it and even showed it off to a few people, who were equally impressed. Looking in the market there seems to be a mix of responses, some with similar experiences and some who love it, so please try it out and judge for yourself. The creators’ other application, Ringo, is a great application without similar issues, so I am sure this one will be improved as time goes on.

PhoneFace was created by Electric Pocket and is available in the Android Market for $2.99 or there is a ‘Lite’ version available for free.

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