While Caller ID is sufficient to tell you who’s calling, we like to associate pictures with our contacts so that we have a very clear visual of who’s just dying to speak with us. But what if you can’t find the perfect picture for all of your contacts? Enter My Face, an app by Paragon Services, that allows you to download pictures for your contacts that were personally chosen by those contacts. We really like the idea of what this app offers and tested it out to see how well it really works.
Note the requirement about the correct entry of the first letter of the first and or last name in a contact for the app to be able to pull a contact’s picture.
Setting up your own contact photo requires a few steps. You must enter your phone number, the initials of your first and last names, your country, and carrier in the Settings section. After this, you’ll be sent a text message to confirm ownership of your phone:
Once you’ve received this text message, you’re ready to select an existing photo or take a new one using the iPhone’s camera to assign as your contact photo for your friends to upload. Choosing Get Contact Pictures will search for pictures uploaded through the My Face app by everyone in your contacts list.
If you use Facebook, you can accomplish something similar with the official Facebook app, but if you don’t use this particular social networking service or simply don’t want to, My Face offers a decent alternative. However, while this app works as advertised, it has some significant hurdles to overcome before it really becomes useful. First, all of the people for whom you want to download a contact picture of their choosing must own an iPhone and buy this app and use it accordingly. Second, you must manually check periodically in case any new friends have started using My Face and in case any current friends have changed their contact picture.
If the app were free, we could see one barrier to more widespread use of My Space decrease and we’re a little surprised to see that it’s not free since it also incorporates Apple’s iAds. While we never begrudge a developer’s efforts to earn money for their efforts, both charging for an app and getting revenue from ads rubs us the wrong way – frankly, we prefer to pay for an app to have an ad-free experience and the presence of ads after paying for an app is annoying.
The app does offer a way to let your friends know about the app with a “Tell My Friends” link in the app that will generate an email draft for you to address containing a link to My Face in the App Store. This is where we see the (albeit low) $.99 price tag of My Face as a barrier – we don’t know about you, but we have some very frugal friends and not all of them will be keen on downloading a single-purpose app even if it offers them a way to ensure that you see a picture they want you to see when they call you.
Again, we really like what My Face does but we don’t see it being see it being used by nearly as many people as we’d like to make it as functional and interesting as it could be without a few changes, namely dropping the price to free (keeping the ads is fine as we would never want a developer to forego income for a good app) and a more automated way to find out if more contacts have started using the app or if an existing contact has changed a picture. Until the use of this app becomes more widespread, we think we’re going to keep ending up choosing pictures for most of our contacts manually, unfortunately.
UPDATE: Paragon Services has made My Face free in response to feedback, removing one of the barriers we saw to more widespread adoption of its use.