Android SIP Call Contact Management is Poor

By | 2011-03-03

Google added native SIP calling to it’s latest release of Android 2.3.x, also known as Gingerbread.  The SIP calling works fine and is easy to set up.  However, it appears to be poorly thought out and implimented when it comes to contact management.

They have added a new field they call “Internet Call” to the Contacts app on Android.  They’ve also added this field to the contacts in GMail.  This is where you can add SIP numbers, for example “”.

On Android 2.3.3 in the phone app contacts, you can only add one entry.  That’s all they allow.  In a GMail contact entry, you can add multiple “Internet Call” fields.  You can then see them on the Android 2.3.3 phone app, and you can delete the extra fields, but you still can not add any more than what you see.

So we can add a single entry on the phone, we can add multiple entries in GMail, but there appears to be no other way to get that data into the phone, or get it out later.  I have yet to find a way to get Android 2.3.3 to import this field in a vCard.  And in GMail it is not included in a vCard or CSV export.

Based on my extensive personal research on Google’s implimentation of vCard 3.0 on Android, it’s my personal opinion that Google’s vCard functionality falls short of standards base and required full functionality to interact with Android contact data through vCards.  The “Import/Export” feature in Android is a mix of vCard 2.1 and 3.0, and possibly some personal preferences of the person or people that wrote the code.  It certainly appears to not follow the RFC standard.  It will only export a subset of the contact info in vCard 2.1.  And when importing you must design your vCard data not to the exact and complete RFC, but tweak it to allow for it’s expected design since it still expects some data in vCard 2.1 format.  And now we can add the lack of “Internet Call” field to that list.

There are various ways of implimenting SIP call fields in vCard 3.0, including the RFC4770, plus various forms of extended “types” such as “X-SIP:…”.

It will be a while before the average person, or even average geek will even notice the “Internet Call” shortcomings in Gingerbread.  And maybe only developers and tech geeks will care.  But I’m still disappointed in how slowing the contact management is evolving in Android.  To me it feels like a total after thought.  But what do I know, it’s only a phone operating system, who needs a great contact manager in a phone OS anyway?  Plus Google isn’t that big a company, we shouldn’t blame them for pushing stuff out that maybe isn’t complete or consistent.

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