Yesterday, a new app called Brewster hit iOS to pull together all of your contacts from various services, including your address book, and make them more…usable. Sounded good to me, so I installed it and waited hours for the company to process my contacts.
Instead of posting something directly from the press release, I opted to wait a while. In the meantime, some journalists had some very interesting “insight” into how this app could change the contact game. I’ll share a few snippets with you now:
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From Venturebeat: “Imagine you’re on a business trip and making a pit-stop in New York. This app will tell you whether an old friend from college is living nearby and will remind you that you’re in danger of losing touch.”
From the NYT: “One of the niftier features of Brewster is that it assesses which contacts you are falling out of touch with, and gently offers a reminder in case you’d like to send that person a text message or e-mail, and plan to grab drinks or catch a film.”
Then I read this piece by TechCrunch, which brought a very serious bug to light:
Brewster, the hot, new personalized address book app for iPhone, launched to much fanfare this week. But it also launched with a concerning bug. Some users reported they had the ability to see the personal contact information for people they shouldn’t have had access to, including the likes of one Mr. Ashton Kutcher, for example.
Brewster says the bug is fixed. Too late, game over, do not pass go. I’ve just emailed the Brewster team to ask them to delete my account. I got a quick response back saying that this would be taken care of in just a few minutes. I then got another email saying this could take an hour. Pardon me?
You see, when it comes to contacts and address books, you don’t get many chances to do it right. In fact, you get no chances to screw up whatsoever. I uploaded thousands of contacts to the service, waited hours for them to be processed, and before I even got a real chance to use the service, I found out that the company already screwed the pooch.
During a testing or private beta phase, these bugs should have been found. Period, end of story. I don’t want to hear anything about how hard it is to be a startup or that “these things happen.” When Path went through its drama with contact listings, it was completely different, because Path wasn’t aiming to replace the address book like Brewster says it is.
In a blog post called “What happened”, the company says things that I don’t really care to hear. It ended the post with:
Brewster strives to be a trusted personalized address book for our users. We hope this serves as an example of how seriously we take issues of privacy, how candid we will be if issues ever arise, and that our users remain a top priority.
Sorry Brewster, no millions of contacts from me. You had one chance, and you blew it. I don’t trust you, and writing a “transparent” blog post isn’t going to change that. You didn’t properly test your product, you knew how sensitive contact information is and proceeded anyway, and you sucked in all of the hype that you got yesterday.
Now delete my account, and all of the data that goes with it.
UPDATE: My account has been deleted, and I’ve verified that this means all of the data and contacts pulled from my accounts were deleted as well.