Google Contacts for Android adds ‘Highlights’ tab

Aside from the new icon, Google Contacts has seen quite a few changes over the past year, and the latest is a new “Highlights” tab.

“Highlight” appears between “Contacts” and “Fix & Manage” in the Material U bottom bar. Below the search field, you find a grid of “Favorites” that fit four icons in a row. It’s more compact than the Phone app’s “Favorites” tab, and you can quickly “Add” from the top-right corner.

The grid coexists with a list of favorites at the top of the main tab. So, now there are two ways of looking at it.

Then there’s “Recent,” which is a two-tab list that starts with “Recently Viewed.” Each contact is accompanied by a visible date, and the overflow menu lets you clear that history. “Recently Added” completes the list, and is the most useful part of this new UI.

With this change, which rolled out recently, Google Contacts is now a three-tabbed app that also has a navigation drawer in the main list view. The app is getting a bit busy.

“Fix and Manage” was a nice addition to highlight the various tools the app offers, but it’s unclear whether it warrants the whole-tab approach. If anything, the new Contacts grid should just be added to the top of the main list and replace the Favorites list, while the Recents section can go into the existing Manage tab.

That said, in theory, this new Highlights tab could be the primary way people use Google Contacts. Instead of scrolling, they could only search, whereas a grid is more visual and friendly than a list.

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