If you’re running stock Android, you know the frustration of not having contact photos for most of your contacts. Although many hardware manufacturers’ versions of Android have the option built-in to sync your friends’ Facebook profile photos with their contact photos, stock Android is somehow still missing this feature.
Let’s remedy that. Here are three awesome apps that will keep all your contact photos synced with Facebook so you never have to see that little placeholder head again.
This placeholder head is just ugly.
When scrolling through your contacts, text messages, or receiving a call, no one wants to see this. But this isn’t 2006, and we don’t need to snap a photo of each and every one of our contacts to have a contact photo for them. We have Facebook. We have technology. We can fix this.
Hang in there and you’ll see the finished product at the end.
HaxSync works by creating a HaxSync account for each of your contacts and connecting that to the phone contact. The photo from the HaxSync account overrides the placeholder head from the contact. However, if you already have a custom photo for that person, it will override the HaxSync photo. This means that if you uninstall HaxSync, your photos disappear.
You can sync Facebook photos, birthdays, and events through HaxSync as well as set up how often it syncs, choose if it uses WiFi or has to be charging, and even set the degree to which it matches names (only exact matches or loose matches).
There’s a manual sync option, which is useful for people whose names might be different on Facebook and your phone, like mom or dad or friends with nicknames.
Annoyingly, if you’re running Android 4.1 or higher, you’ll have to install this workaround. Everything works fine after it’s installed, though, and HaxSync gets the job done.
With the nicest user interface of any of these apps, Sync.ME is really made to be simple and easy to understand. And it succeeds.
Unlike the other options on this list, which work by connecting their own account to your phone contact or Google contact, Sync.ME actually replaces or adds a photo to the contact without connecting it to anything. This means that even if you uninstall Sync.ME, your contacts will still have their last synced photos.
It also means that if all your contacts are saved as Google Contacts and backed up (since you should be backing up everything), you’ll be able to access the photos from your Gmail Contacts or have the photos if you switch Android devices.
Sync.ME has birthday syncing as well, but its standout feature is the “In-Call Experience”, which allows you to scan through a person’s Facebook timeline while you’re on a call with them.
UberSync, though not the prettiest app, is simple and minimal. You choose two options upon startup: when to sync high-res photos, and if you want to sync all your Facebook friends or just your existing contacts. There are no levels of matching as there are with HaxSync, and no manual matching, which means that your only option for manual syncing is to input a user’s Facebook ID into the notes section of their contact.
That’s far too annoying to even consider. That would take so much time for the average user: tracking down people’s IDs and entering them into the contacts. UberSync is definitely for those who want to set it up and leave it alone — no manual tinkering.
It’s ad-supported, but the ads can be disabled without paying anything. It has some useful options like choosing the frequency of syncing, if it can only sync on WiFi, and the size of synced pictures — but it’s noticeably lacking several others like birthday and event reminders.
Still, for someone just looking to set it up and let it do its thing, UberSync is a solid option.
You saw the placeholders at the beginning of the article, so how does the contacts app and receiving call screen look after syncing your photos with one of these apps? Like this.
Now, when texting, scrolling through your contacts, or receiving a call, you’ve got nice high-resolution photos of your friends and family. All of the apps delivered on this, even if they got there in different ways.
My favorite was Sync.ME, which easily has the nicest interface, the most features, and the ability to actually replace contact photos rather than just linking accounts.
This is one of those rare instances where hardware manufacturer skins like Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense have stock Android beat, but thankfully we have these third-party apps to help level the playing field.