My phone recently updated to iOS 17, which includes the new “contact posters” feature. You can create and share your name and a customized poster with your contacts. On its own, they are kind of fun and a bit whimsical, but they aren’t actually useful in any real way. It offers you some personalization. It is dynamic and centrally located, so it can be remotely changed on the end user’s phone. But why does it stop there?
Why can’t I share my actual contact details along with my name and poster? This would actually solve a real and enduring problem with contacts.
With the addition of my actual, up to date contact info, I could maintain a fully verified contact card in my phone and be able to share it with who I choose.
When looking at my contacts, I could see who of my contacts is verified. I could then decide if I wanted to share my contact info back.
I could also then decide what information I want to share. Maybe I only want to share name, email, and LinkedIn with someone I meet at a conference. Or maybe just name, number, and Instagram for someone new I meet socially.
It would do wonders for my existing contacts too. We’ve had iPhones for over a decade, and I have hundreds if not thousands of contacts that are likely old and out of date. I have friends who routinely switch numbers for some reason (idk what’s wrong with these people but that’s a separate post). I have like 4 numbers for them, and I don’t know which is correct. In both cases, they could update their contact card with their new info and push it out to whoever has their verified contact card. The handshake ensures I always have the most up to date info.
Plus Birthdays! Facebook used to be my go to, but I haven’t used that in years. I would love if the birthday was a shareable component of the card. I would get a notification on the day so I could send a message to my friends – it could even prompt me to do so.
As a matter of privacy and safety, I could also revoke access if I didn’t want someone to have my info. This would be great for limiting or eliminating contact from unwanted people. It would also allow me to remove my official contact info from someone else’s phone. I’ve had the same number for over 20 years, so who knows where my number is still floating around. This would fit in really well with Apple’s stated values around Privacy – you get to control who can contact you, and how.
It has security benefits as well – if a contact is verified, I can be sure who is texting me. This would help keep me safe from not only unwanted texts, but lately I’ve been the target of phishing attacks. I would know for sure if it was really the CEO texting me. Apple has recently released a new feature called contact key verification which is a version of this, but it’s currently an opt-in security feature and quite cumbersome to set up.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks at Apple had already thought of these ideas, and maybe the posters is just them testing this system in a low stakes way.
Messaging is already the new social networking, so this would continue to give Apple a toehold here. It could even be the basis for a larger, much needed identity system.