A new add-on for Firefox lets you take along one of your most valuable digital assets — your address book — wherever you travel on the social web.
The latest experiment to emerge out of Mozilla Labs, Contacts is a Firefox add-on that stores all the contact information for all of your friends on social networks and across multiple address books (both local and web-based) in the browser.
An experimental alpha was first announced in March with the ability to pull in your contacts from Gmail, Twitter and the Mac OS X address book. This week, Contacts received its first update, and can now import data from LinkedIn and Plaxo as well. There are also stability improvements, and some new discovery features that make it easier to find additional information about people who are already in your address book.
In the blog post covering Contacts 0.2, Mozilla’s Michael Hanson says his team is working quickly on adding support for other social networks, Thunderbird’s address book and the Windows address book.
All of us social web junkies have felt the pain involved with “finding friends” on new social networks, or of having to copy and paste e-mail addresses from one place to another just to communicate with somebody on a new web service, or on one we don’t frequently use. Because of this, systems which make your address book, buddy list or other “friend data” accessible across the web are becoming more vital. They essentially give you the ability to sync all of your address books — your own personal Rolodex, that vast store of extremely important data you’ve been cultivating for years, and likely the only social network it’s safe to say you’ll never abandon — and use them on any website you visit.
There are two key components to Contacts. First is an e-mail auto-completion engine, which will auto-complete e-mail addresses on any website you visit without sharing any of your friends’ contact information with the website. Second is an address book API which allows a website to access your own personal contacts database stored in the browser. Of course, you control which sites have permission to access your contacts, and how much of your address book each site can see.
It’s important to note that Mozilla Contacts is still in the early alpha stage, and will become more feature-rich as development continues.