The iPhone’s address book is a clear enough list, but it’s also one of those pieces of the iOS platform that’s looking dated compared to competitors. More and more, the web is image-based. And someone’s contact information isn’t just their phone number, and it’s not just their email, either. It’s their Facebook profile, their Twitter handle–it’s their entire trail across the web.
Brewster is an uncommonly wonderful app that reimagines the iPhone’s address book in the context of images and social media. You plug in a few accounts–like Facebook, Gmail and even your own iPhone address book–and Brewster constructs a massive database from this. When the calculations are done, you’re greeted by the faces of all your friends and family (along with more than a few acquaintances)–a number that totaled over 4,000 people for me.
Obviously 4,000 people is a bit intense, so you attenuate the onslaught by choosing favorites from the pool (which becomes a handy quick-draw favorites list nearly identical to the iPhone’s own favorites), and Brewster will also compile smart lists based upon mutual contacts to explore.
From any of these smaller pools, you can simply click on a friend’s face and make your way to a contact screen worthy of 2012. From here you can one-button communicate to your friend through email, a phone call, text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s connected to almost every service you could want or imagine, other than Instagram, for whatever reason.
There’s also an interesting social media platform built right in to Brewster’s core. While I couldn’t get it working in my own testing–likely a processing delay or other quirk–it appears to condense your address book into a media feed of its own. It’s an idea that makes a lot of sense. I don’t tend to use FlipBook on a daily basis, but were that sort of social media service built in to a contacts-grounded platform, I might be more likely to impulse-read updates.
The only (pretty big) thing you can’t do with Brewster is actually publish updates to social media pages. It frames the app to be more about other people than yourself, but it also means that Brewster can’t outright replace your other social media apps, which is a bit of a shame. You can readily imagine something like Brewster serving as something like a social-media browser on your smart phone–and maybe that day is close.
Still, when you consider all of its capabilities, Brewster feels like so much more than a standalone app; it feels like it belongs as the contacts/communication screen at the core of an OS (much like Windows Phone 7 and some Android phones handle communications, actually). In fact, I plan on hiding my iPhone’s go-to phone app and try Brewster for a while, just to prove that the data-heavy, image-forward interface can scale to my day-to-day life in the long run.