The new Contacts Preview drags Google's address book out of the Netscape era

contacts preivew 4.5
Credit: Official Gmail Blog

Google Contacts is getting a much-needed overhaul, eliminating the misery of managing who you message.

You can try out the new web app right now by going to the Google Contacts Preview. Once you enable it with your Google account, you'll default to the new page every time you navigate to your Contacts.

The design is reminiscent of Google's Inbox email app, drawing heavily from the company's new Material Design aesthetic. The contacts are grouped together in stark white bundles, which pop out from the light gray background. 

contacts preview 1.5 Official Gmail Blog

The new Contacts page looks very similar to the new Inbox email app.

When you click on a contact, it pops to the foreground while the rest of the page fades into the darkness. 

From here you can view and edit any of the contact information. When you hover over a detail like a phone number or home address, an icon will pop up indicating where you got that information. If you added it in yourself you'll see a contact card, or a Google+ icon if it's from Google's social network. 

The best new feature is the ability to merge all your duplicates. Just click the Find duplicates section from the left and then the merge all button. It blends all the redundancy entries together rather well, cleaning up the unnecessary details.

Another great addition is a clearer display of your past conversations, which are snippets of previous email correspondence with that contact. 

The contacts reorganization also significantly de-emphasizes Google+, which has an uncertain future anyway. You can still look for contacts by your circles if you wish, but the main organizational structure is centered around your favorite and most-often used contacts.

As is often the case with new products rollouts, Google announced that its Apps customers can't get access yet, but will at some point.

The impact on you at home: If you use Google as your main repository for all your contacts, this is a much-needed overhaul. Sometimes it's more convenient to add in a new phone number or email address on the computer instead of searching for your phone. Now you don't have to deal with an interface that was designed for the era of Netscape Navigator.

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