Review: Facebook Sync and Contact Photo Sync
Contact images are taken for granted these days, but it wasn’t that long ago that they were something of a luxury. Without automation, they can be a pain to set up, even Nokia Social doesn’t do that for us. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something that would scan our social networks and match up images with our contacts? Well, we now have two applications to do just that. Read on to see how well Facebook Sync and Contact Photo Sync work.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.10
Facebook Sync (65%)
The main screen of Facebook Sync gives you a list of all of your Facebook contacts. Any names that match people in your Symbian Contacts application are marked with an icon. Tapping a contact once selects it, a second tap displays its details.
The whole user interface feels rather clunky. For example, given the ‘muscle memory’ we have from current Symbian applications, this (effective) double tap gesture feels counter intuitive. There isn’t any kinetic scrolling; instead, you have to drag a very narrow scroll bar. Everything works, but it all feels behind the times.
Below the contacts list, there is a button to ‘Update Contacts’. This is the fun part of Facebook Sync. This triggers Facebook Sync to automatically update all of your matching contacts with their Facebook profile photos. Going into the application’s settings page reveals a drop-down list of options for when to update photos; never, only when local contact has no photo, or always.
Browsing contacts and their details
Given that this profile photo scraping is Facebook Sync’s unique selling point, I’m glad to say that it works as well as I’d expect it to. There are certain ‘outlying’ cases where photos are in extreme landscape or portrait dimensions. Naturally, they have to be square, and this can lead to some faceless crops. Given that Facebook Sync is doing all the computation by itself without asking for input, one can’t really complain.
The settings page is a tad confusing; there are tick boxes for birthdays and gender. Going by the application’s help page, those tick boxes are meant to determine whether or not the respective data is changed on your local address book. However, contact entries on Symbian don’t have a field for gender. Neither are birthday dates overwritten with data from Facebook. Chalk those two down as bugs!
Facebook Sync settings
A final feature of Facebook Sync is the ability to download entire photo albums. Via the second of two tabs above the contacts list, one can browse for Facebook photo albums. Albums are grouped together by their owner, tapping a contact drops down a list of their albums. It isn’t possible to browse each photo; instead, the whole album is downloaded to the phone’s mass memory. Contact names and album names are mirrored in the directory structure when they are saved.
Browsing photo albums
Contact Photo Sync (77%)
Contact Photo Sync is a much simpler application. It aims to do one thing, and do it well. That is, synchronise contact photos.
Once logged in, the application gives you a simple choice - replace all matching contact photos, or skip the matching contacts who already have photos. Once you make your choice, the process starts.
Contact Photo Sync in action
A dialog indicates that matching contacts are being searched for. Then you are treated to a slideshow of every contact photo as they’re downloaded. Finally, a progress bar indicates that the pictures are being saved into their respective contacts. Afterwards, the main screen shows a brief report, telling you how many contacts were updated.
That’s all it does, which means it’s strikingly easy to use. It works just as expected, and seems to handle cropping extra wide or tall images slightly better than Facebook Sync.
Both Facebook Sync and Contact Photo Sync cost just £1.00 in the Ovi Store, and their relative advantages make for an easy choice.
Note though, a criticism I need to make of both applications is that there is no way to override their matching algorithm. They both fail to match abbreviated names (e.g. “Andy” and “Andrew”). These are the sort of cases where a manual override option is needed to compensate for the shortcomings of the code.
If all you want to do is automatically update your contact photos from Facebook, then Contact Photo Sync is the clear choice. It’s straightforward and does the job with virtually zero input.
However, if you wish to download entire photo albums as well as update contacts, then it’s worth making do with the less attractive user interface of Facebook Sync. You’ll get more functionality for your pound.
On finishing this review, I’m left wondering why neither application had an option to search Twitter?
David Gilson for All About Symbian, 4th September 2011
Reviewed by David Gilson at