App Spotlight: Ringya turns printed contact lists into smartphone contact lists

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Possible slogans for Ringya, a new contact-management app for Android and iOS:

"If you like it then you shoulda put a Ringya on it."

"One Ringya to rule them all."

"The postman only Ringyas once."

All terrible, I know, but they'll make a little more sense once you learn how Ringya works. This free app is designed to turn printed contact lists into smartphone contact lists. And it does so through the magic of photography.

Suppose, for example, your old-school boss hands out a printed table of all the members of the sales team. Or a list of all the department managers.

Typically you'd have to enter those contacts into your smartphone by hand -- not a fun task. With Ringya, you simply snap a photo of any printed contact list; the app converts it into an address book -- a "ring," if you will, but really just a group.

Those rings can be shared with other users, and if the sharer adds or updates a contact, it automatically gets distributed to other "ring-holders."

Likewise, if you share a ring with someone who's not yet a Ringya user, that person receives a personalized text message with a link for downloading the app. (It was initially an iOS-only offering, but Ringya just introduced an Android version.)

Ringya also lets you send a text message or email to some or all members of a ring, a great way to blast out news or requests to teams, colleagues, or even important customers.

Plus, the app offers something called contextual caller ID, meaning when someone from one of your rings calls you, the app flashes extra information about that caller -- like, say, his or her title.

Although Ringya doesn't integrate with your existing address book, it can copy contacts from it. You can also import names and numbers from a digital list, one stored in a PDF, Word or Excel file, or the like.

Based on my quick tests, Ringya rocks. It incorporates a simple, attractive interface, and it makes group contact management a breeze. I'm rather surprised the app is free, without so much as a premium option. Maybe that's coming, but for now I think many a business user can make very good use of this tool.

And speaking of handy contact-related apps, be sure to check out CallApp for Android and MailShot 2.0 for iOS.

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