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7 ways to maximise the use of Android and Apple contacts

I'm sure you all know that your smartphone contacts app has long been essential for storing contact information, but while storage is its typical use, Android and Apple devices contacts are not limited to that function.

There are several nifty tricks you can use to lever the full potential of your contacts list. Here are seven of the best.

Android and iOS: Give a friend a unique name

So, maybe you've put your dad’s actual first and last name into your address book, but you’d like to simply tell Siri or Google Now to “call dad” when you want to give him a ring. Both Android and iOS solve that problem by providing an optional nickname field in the contacts app.

Simply open the desired contact card and click the 'Edit' option, select 'Add field' (or 'Add another field' for Google) and input the nickname.

The next time you make a voice command, you can simply use your contact’s nickname instead of the actual name originally saved on your address book.

Android and iOS: Improve Siri and Google Now pronunciations

It could easily become annoying whenever Siri or Google Now mispronounces a name and just does it every single time. Flaw as it may seem, this is now compensated for by the phonetics option.

This feature does not include using complex characters but can be used for most names. Say, if your voice command mispronounces Carlisle, you can input “Carlyle” into the phonetic field instead.

Doing so should be like that of adding a nickname. Click the 'Edit' button then under the add field, select 'Phonetic name' for Android, and either 'Phonetic first name', 'Phonetic middle name', or 'Phonetic last name', for iOS.

Android: Pin a contact

Yes, Android can let you pin a contact into your phone’s home screen – outside the contacts app.

It’s a cool way to by-pass the process of skimming through your long list of contacts every time you need to call your boss or your best friend. Once the contact is pinned into your home screen, the contact’s icon will appear and the contact details will pop-up with a single tap.

From there you can easily send your text message or make your call.

To do this, select the contact you want to pin to your home screen and choose 'Place on Homescreen' under the list of options.

Android and iOS: Create a reminder of a special event

Occasions like your sister’s wedding, your parents’ anniversary or a friend’s birthday, are events that you wouldn’t want to miss and an Android and iOS contacts feature can help you with the tons of special dates that you need to remember.

Follow the same steps in adding a new contact, then on your iOS device look for a field that says 'Add date' or 'Add birthday', select the appropriate option and add the date.

Android uses the same process, only that it is much more lenient with the labels - after selecting the add field button, just tap 'special dates', add the special occasion and label it with whatever event you’re attending.

Both the Android and iOS automatically provide prompts for these dates through the calendar app.

Android and iOS: Assign a distinct ringtone to a contact

Your smartphone won’t be in your hands 24/7, however, you may want to quickly know that it’s your boss calling and not someone you can ignore.

To be alerted when a specific contact calls, why not create a special ringtone for that person?

Under the contact card, select 'set ringtone' for Android and 'ringtone' for iOS and choose your desired ringtone for that specific contact.

iOS: Create a custom vibration

On top of the custom ringtone, iOS also ensures that you can distinguish a caller as your phone vibrates, which is especially useful when your smartphone is in silent mode.

The 'vibration' function, which also appears under the 'Edit' option, lets a user create a vibration pattern by just tapping and swiping the screen. Once the pattern has been created, a user can either save and assign the vibration for a contact, or select 'record' to re-do the pattern.

Android and iOS: Avoid annoying contacts

Whilst, in most cases, you would happily rummage through your bag to pick up a call from your best friend, there will be times when you’d want not to take a call from a particular person. This is a problem that's easy to solve, thanks to the block functionality.

For contacts in iOS, the 'block this caller' option can be found at the bottom part of the contacts card. For Android, selecting the 'all calls to voicemail' option will do the trick.