We've all become accustomed to having integrated social networks in our mobile phone address books, especially Android or Windows Phone 7 users. But what if you want something similar on your Mac? Well, there's an app for that, and it's called Cobook.
Cobook, currently in beta, describes itself as a "smart address book". We've heard similar things before from the likes of Xobni, and whilst that company has brought their contacts indexing solution to Gmail, Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Outlook, the Xobni for Mac version remains elusive.
There are differences, of course. Cobook primarily takes three social networks - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - and lets you correlate and integrate that information with your native Mac Address Book.
Of course, for many users, that leaves the Big G on the outside. Cobook doesn't offer Google Contacts syncing, but the native Mac Address Book does, so it's something of a moot point: you just have to setup Google Contacts syncing elsewhere.
Cobook, rather than claiming another space on your dock, instead lives as an icon on the menu bar. As such it gives you instant access to your contacts, so you can search contacts directly, and you can assign a keyboard shortcut to make it even faster to access.
Of course, Mac users will know that Spotlight already pulls out address cards from either Outlook or Address Book with a quick search. What Cobook offers by the way of differentiation, is the integration of those social networks, as well as a faster route to contact details.
Using the Spotlight route is a little messy: Outlook cards take a while to open, you then have to hit the little mail icon; Address Book entries open the entire address book page, you then have to right click to send an email; with Cobook, you type the name, click the email address and you're writing an email in your default email client.
You also get images pulled from social networks, very much like your smartphone. You can edit, merge, delete contacts, as well as add notes, but as we found, the notes field isn't searchable. This is still in beta, so there are things that are still being smoothed out.
Now, a word of caution. Cobook offers destructive syncing, so you can opt to sync Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn contacts. This adds those entries to your Address Book, so once you say yes, in they go. If you also have Google syncing in place, you will find your social contacts are then sitting in your Google Contacts too.
For Facebook this might not be such a problem (as you probably know your Facebook friends) but for something like Twitter, you could end up with 500 additional entries you didn't want. As with all syncing, especially if you have an extensive address book of "professional" contacts, be sure to backup first.
But don’t worry - you can still connect those social accounts without syncing all the details, just so Cobook will pop-up the relevant details.
Well worth a look for Mac users and we've found it faster and easier to control Address Book and it's currently free, check it out in their video below and on Cobookapp.com.
Oh, and there's a suggestion that the same system will be coming to iPhone and iPad in the future.