SaltyCrane Blog — Notes on JavaScript and web development

Hack to share & sync Google contacts between Android phones

I want to share and sync (in real time) Google (Gmail) contacts with my wife on our Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread phones. Google does not make this easy to do. Here's the best solution I could come up with (ref whitenack on androidcentral). (Note: these are not our real email addresses.)

  • This contact list resides only on the account.
  • Contacts are removed from the "My Contacts" group and instead stored in groups called "Angela" and/or "Eliot". For shared contacts, the contact is in both groups. (Contact groups are like tags. A contact can be in multiple groups at the same time.)
  • Contacts in the "Angela" group show up on Angela's phone and contacts in the "Eliot" group show up on Eliot's phone. Contacts in both groups show up in both phones.
  • On Angela's phone, add the account and check the box for syncing Contacts and uncheck the box for syncing Contacts from the account.
  • On Angela's phone, check the box for displaying the groups "My Contacts" and "Angela" under the account and uncheck all the boxes for displaying contacts on the account.
  • On Eliot's phone, check the box for displaying the groups "My Contacts" and "Eliot" under the account
  • On both phones, set the account used for creating new contacts to Contacts -> More -> Settings -> Contact storage -> Select the account
  • When a *new* contact is added on either of the phones, it will be added to the "My Contacts" group on the account. These contacts later need to be moved to the "Angela" and/or "Eliot" groups from the browser while signed in to the account.
  • The account will not be able to view, add, or edit contacts from the browser (Gmail).

We are able to share and sync contacts in real time, however there are annoyances. The main problem is that contact list lives under one account, so it is not available to the secondary user (my wife) when she is using Gmail or wants to manage contacts in the browser. A second minor annoyance is that our Android phones don't allow us to assign a contact to a group, so all new contacts added from our phones will be added to the generic "My Contacts" group and need to be categorized later from the browser.

I also tried the free Google Apps because it has Contact sharing. However, I could not figure out how to get shared contacts to show up in our phones.

Will upgrading to Android 4.0 ICS help?


#1 Dan commented on :

You could use or the "Shared Contacts for Gmail" App. I'm still on the free trial for at the moment. Seems like a nice system though I'm not sure we'll stick with it beyond the trial since $60/yr seems a bit much to pay for a basic service like this. Once all our contacts are sync'd and organized and we go out of the trial period, we may do periodic manual syncs or try out the Shared Contacts app since it's cheaper (about $20/yr for two users). Would be nice if Google simply provided this as they do for their calendar, shared drive, etc.