I hate Flexibits. First, with Fantastical, those jerks made me enjoy using a calendar app so much I actually show up for meetings and appointments. Infuriating. Now, with Cardhop, Michael Simmons and Kent Sutherland have also made me enjoy using a contacts app. Sorta. Cardhop is by no means a traditional contacts app. It's more of a connection launcher. And that's what makes it magic.
Apple is often accused of "Sherlocking" indie apps by building them into the core OS. Some indies, like Flexibits, show how Apple can be Moriarty'd right back by fundamentally improving the built-in OS experience. That's what Fantastical did and that's what Cardhop does as well.
Cardhop lives in your menu bar and you can invoke it with whatever key combo you assign. (You can also detach it, move it, and even expand it full screen if you really want to.) Set up is super simple — just grant Cardhop permission to access the macOS contacts database, and you're good to go.
Once open, Cardhop presents you with a well-manicured list of recent contacts. Not a junk drawer of every partial, fragmented email address you've picked up or duped over the years, but a short, highly glanceable list of people you might actually want to contact next. If anyone has a birthday coming up, that's highlighted too.
Most of the time I don't even see the list, though. Because I'm already typing. That's what makes Cardhop so damn great. If you're familiar with Fantastical or some of the text-based launcher apps, including Spotlight, then you'll be familiar with power of typing in Cardhop. Otherwise, just start hitting the keys.
Type a name, get the contact. Type a fragment of the first and last name, get the contact. (I love that, because I'm too lazy to type full names.)
But you don't just type to search. You type to act as well. If I type "Ser Cal", I get Serenity Caldwell. If I type "Ser Cal email@example.com", I add that email address to her contact. (I can even type "work" to specify the kind of email address I'm adding.) Same if I type a date for her birthday. If I type "Call Ser Cal" it'll place a phone call to Serenity using call relay or BT pairing, your choice.
In addition to Call, you can also just type Copy, Directions, Email, FaceTime, FaceTime Audio, Large Type, Message, Skype, Telegram, Twitter, URL, and VoIP, and get access to all of those actions as well.
Copy is brilliant because it removes the tedium of extracting and sharing a contact out of a typical database page.
When you put it all together something profound happens. In traditional computer workflows, you think about a person, figure out how you want to contact them, open the app that will contact them in that way, then find their contact within that app. It's circuitous and leaves you open to multiple distraction and friction points. With Cardhop, you think about the person, hit the hotkey, start typing their name and how you want to contact them, and you're on your way.
It's so powerful that, once you get used to it, you'll never want to go back to the built-in Contact app again. And that's what makes a great indie app truly great.
Cardhop will eventually run you $19.99 but you can grab it on sale now for $14.99.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.