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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Using Your Face Tags for Your Contacts Instead of Theirs

Ever since I learned how to use Picasa to comb through my photos and gather the faces of people I know (using facial recognition) and then quickly assigning the best one of those thumbnails of their face as their picture in my Contacts, I've been on a long campaign to get all of my Contacts to have their picture.

Having close to a thousand contacts, this was/is quite a project.  However, well worth the effort because seeing their face in my Outlook Contacts, Outlook Emails, Meeting Notices, or on my Android phone or iOS devices is not only cool, it's a time saver.

Recently, I became the proud owner of a new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone.  After getting all of the apps installed and my contacts and calendars synchronized, I suddenly realized that for my friends that also have a Google+ account, their photos they picked as their Google+ photo was now the photo used in "my" contacts.

If you're someone that hadn't previously invested the time to create contact photos, this might be a magical blessing.  But for me, this was not desirable at all.

For example, I had selected a photo of a co-worker for his entry in my contacts:

But on my new phone his Contact photo looked like this:

Because that is the photo he chose to use on his Google+ account.

Went back to Picasa on my computer to try and fix this.  Even there, his default contact photo had changed to his Google+ photo.  Although it could be changed in Picasa, and the new photo selected for him did indeed show in my Gmail Contacts, his Google+ photo was still the one showing on my phone.

Ultimately discovered that the fix for this behavior is contained in the Google+ app on my Android phone.

Follow these steps:
  • Open Google+ app
  • Go to Settings (within the app)
  • Under the Account Settings heading, click on your Google account name and email address
  • Click on Contacts
  • Un-check  "Keep contacts up to date"

With this un-checked, the photos I had previously chosen for my contacts reappeared.  This may also explain some weirdness I've had surrounding phone numbers in my contacts, in that on some contacts I've had additional phone numbers for them appear, sometimes duplicate phone numbers.
This may or may not be an issue for iPhone users.  When you install the Google+ app on the iOS device and login to Google+ you are asked if you want Google+ to access your Contacts.  If you allow it, then it could be an issue (or a blessing, depending upon your perspective).