Gist, Plaxo and Xobni all aim to cut through the social media cloud and pull together a comprehensive digital address book.
Although each tool has its pluses, none has a magic formula making it the must-have contact manager organiser.
Gist filters your in-boxes putting incoming messages in a single place. Its strong point is sorting things in order of importance. It works with email, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Gist doesn’t always get this right, but it’s an improvement on the usual overloaded in-box.
Gist is free at the time of writing.
Plaxo does a reasonable job of syncing to contact management applications. It can also pull in some of your social networking messages.
Plaxo is free, but you need to buy the premium service to sync with Microsoft Outlook and mobile phones. My Plaxo account is full of duplicate entries – annoyingly you can only merge these if you pay for the premium version.
Xobni looks good, but it’s an Outlook add-on and doesn’t replace the contact manager. It provides better index cards and links entries so you can quickly find a contact’s colleagues.
Google’s contact management tool – part of Gmail – is second-rate. It provides little information and adds no value.
Of the three tools looked at here, I recommend Gist as a way to cut through the noise. But for now, Outlook remains the smartest contact manager.