Managing your address book on an iOS device has never been easy. The default Contacts app is robust on the iPhone, but updating profiles and user information is laborious. It’s far from seamless and often feels like a chore, similar to keeping on top of your email or calendar.

Reach Network is the latest startup looking to solve this problem with digital business cards that update automatically. The idea is that similar to About.me, each user has a profile with links to various contact information and profile pages, such as LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram. Whenever you update a section, other Reach Network users see the change in real-time, side-stepping the need to update everything manually.

How it works

Creating your profile is pretty straight-forward, following the usual registration process either via a Facebook account or email address. If you opt for the former, Reach Network will build your first card based on the information already available on the social network, such as your profile picture, email address and location.

reach1 Reach Network is an address book app for iOS that updates your contacts’ information in real time

The app will then ask to draw from your existing address book in the Contacts app, ensuring that all of your friends, family and colleagues are there from the outset.

Reach Network gets a little tricky, however, when you have to start thinking about multiple cards, and who you want to share them with. The ‘Me’ tab in the bottom left-hand corner reveals all of the profile cards that you’ve generated so far; a common setup would be to have one for friends, work contacts and strangers.

They’re all completely configurable, with support for a background image, short bio, multiple social networks and other contact information, such as Skype and AIM.

reach3 Reach Network is an address book app for iOS that updates your contacts’ information in real time

Tapping the ‘Share’ button at the top of the screen will push the card to other people, either via email, SMS, or new Reach Network users. It’s an improvement on Livecards, a similar feature offered by Cobook, which is useless unless other people are using the app.

There’s also a method of exchanging date to a nearby device via a customizable code. I wasn’t able to try this out during testing, but I can see it being incredibly useful during conferences and networking events; a digital alternative to business cards, if you will.

Hitting the Contacts button at the bottom of the screen reveals your existing address book available through iCloud. It works well enough, but does little to improve on the default Contacts app.

reach2 Reach Network is an address book app for iOS that updates your contacts’ information in real time

Swiping right at the top of the screen, however, switches to Reach Network contacts. These will update automatically, provided the user has chosen to connect with you. Changes appear as notifications back in the ‘Me’ tab, but the joy is that everything works without user input.

There’s an option to set your card to public, so that anyone on Reach Network can find your contact information. Privacy is a key concern here, so double-checking what details your sharing is paramount. However, if you’re looking for a particular contact outside of your network, it could be an invaluable feature.

The bottom line

Everyone wants an alternative to business cards. Few people keep a Rolodex these days, which results in a drawer full of unnecessary and undervalued cards.

Plenty of companies have tried to create a digital alternative, but none have managed to create the kind of traction needed to become the ‘go-to’ service.

Reach Network is one of the best address book apps available on iOS right now. It’s a tough call between this and Cobook – I still prefer the latter due to its ability to synchronize with the Mac OS X companion app – but the way that Reach Network treats profile cards is admirable.

➤ Reach Network | iOS

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