Google is making it easier to find your contacts and help you keep track of messages

Google contacts app on smartphone
(Image credit: Future / James Ide)

The Google Contacts app is getting an update that'll streamline its user interface, as well as a new widget that could help you avoid missing important messages by placing them front and center.

According to code deep dive by AssembleDebug, the update includes a widget that will show messages from contacts on your phone’s home screen. This should make them harder to miss, even if notifications are off and the phone is silenced.

Users will still need to allow permission for such alerts by tapping the notification icon on the top right of the widget. This will then prompt a dialog box that will explain the feature and request permission.

It’s thought that the widget will only show messages from a single contact, and will include the options to allow users to reply or call them back.

The update could make it easier to find contacts. Changes to the Contacts home screen have removed the ‘Phone contacts’, ‘Email contacts’, and ‘Company filters’ from the top of the screen. This declutters the page, and these options have been moved to the main menu (three horizontal bars), and appear at the bottom of the screen, so they can still be accessed if needed.

Screen captures of the changes to Google Contacts from the The SpAndroid blog

(Image credit: AssembleDebug / TheSpAndroid)

Another UI change simplifies how the app shows calls and contact details from other apps like WhatsApp, and Telegram. Instead of displaying a confusing list of entries, including missed and connected calls and messages, the new update adds a 'Connected app’ section that lists the third-party apps with drop-down menus for users to pursue notifications about calls and messages.

The changes aren’t just limited to WhatsApp and Telegram contacts, as more messaging apps will also appear in this list if they are installed.

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The image on the left displays the more cluttered, older interface while the image on the right displays the newer more organized look.

Google Contacts is a free, built-in app for many Android phones including the Google Pixel lineup that allows users to manage their phone numbers and contacts, so any changes will affect a significant number of users.   

It’s not known when these features will roll out – assuming Google decides to release them – and they’re currently hidden behind flags, meaning they’re unavailable for the public until implemented on Google's server side. However, you’ll likely need to have the latest version of Contacts, version 4.26 to see the features, and after that, you should receive the update as soon as it is rolled out.

While the updates aren’t exactly revolutionary, any changes making our phones easier to use are welcome. However, if you want to try something completely different then take a look at our best iPhones list. 

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Staff Writer, Mobile Computing

James Ide is a writer for TechRadar specializing in phones and tablets, having previously worked at The Daily Mirror since 2016, covering news and reviews.  


James loves messing with the latest tech, especially phones due to their incredibly rapid pace of development.


When not surrounded by various devices and/or tinkering with gadgets while putting them through their paces, James has a love of handheld consoles.


He is almost the textbook definition of a geek, who loves sci-fi, comics, games and of course, all things tech. If you think you have a story for him or just want to challenge him at Smash Bros, get in touch.