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Bad with names? 2 Android apps try to help

Barbara Krasnoff | March 2, 2015
A few years ago, Evernote picked up a small contact-manager app called Hello (which was then retitled Evernote Hello). One of the main ideas behind the app was to help those of us who had trouble remembering names (a category I definitely fall into). It let you take notes about people you met at, say, a conference, and pick up extra information, including photos, from LinkedIn. You could then use the info and/or the photos to jog your memory.

If you click on a contact's name, you get a page of information about that person, including a photo (if there are any). The info also includes other of your contacts who are friends with that person (which can be useful), where the contact works and/or lives, and any other accessible info, including any meetings you've had — assuming that meeting was in your calendar.

A field on top lets you search your contacts. This is where the power of the product is supposed to be; I should be able to type in something like "met last Tuesday" or "met at CES" and get a list of contacts.

Unfortunately, Humin appears to be extremely beta — and as a result, not yet particularly useful. Whenever I'd type in "met last Saturday" or "Met at work," it would either come up blank or with non-relevant listings. And worse (at least, to my mind), while you can add new contacts to a meeting, you can't add existing ones. So if I go to a conference and want to record which of my existing contacts I've met there, there's no way to do that.

Humin caused a bit of buzz when it first appeared on iOS devices; unfortunately, it doesn't seem to add much yet for Android users. According to Humin's Google Play page, "We made a bunch of under-the-hood changes and performance improvements that we're excited to unveil over the course of the next few releases." I'm looking forward to seeing some feature improvements as well.

Social Recall

Another app that says it can help you remember the names of acquaintances and colleagues is more of a game than a practical aid. Social Recall is a memory game that tries to help you remember people by showing you their photos and having you type in their name; if you need a hint, it will give you the initials of their first and last names.

It's a nice idea, and one that could help somewhat in the long run. The game can be refined, as you play, to encompass only relevant contacts; if you hit somebody whom you likely won't ever meet again, you can hit a button and the game will skip them from then on. You can choose contacts from your Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter lists, and can resync your contacts (so that any additions or changes you've made will show up in the game).

You can also play with others — in other words, challenge your friends to do a better job at identifying people than you can.

The only problem here is the tendency of folks online to use icons that don't necessarily show their faces. So when I linked with my Facebook contacts, I found myself being asked to identify people based on photos of cats, cartoons and caricatures.


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