Copy2Contact For Android… So Close, Yet So Far

Please skip to the bottom if you’re interested in helping out with a quick little test, but aren’t interested in all the history.

The History of Copy2Contact for Android

Despite my recent not-so-pro-Android post about Android vs. iPhone, we have been working in the background to get Copy2Contact ready for the Android platform. It may seem like an easy task, and it may seem like we started this a long time ago, but there’s more below the surface.

When we started this project, we were gung-ho to get it done, and invested a ton of time and money into building the user interface and porting the Copy2Contact engine over. All went smoothly until we tried actually using the app, and found that most Android phones just didn’t have copy and paste from email at all. This is a big problem given that Copy2Contact works on data that you’ve grabbed from another app (usually email) and onto the clipboard.

I couldn’t believe that a modern smartphone and supposed iPhone competitor didn’t have such a fundamental feature, so I looked more closely. It turns out, some of the later versions of the OS had copy and paste, but it was implemented in a very awkward way, and it wasn’t clear how many users out there even had this feature since the Android market is so fragmented. So we surveyed some users who had expressed interest in Copy2Contact for Android and lo and behold, only two of them were able to copy and paste.

The project was shelved. Not only would it be unusable by most Android users, but the cost of supporting each potential customer to help them decide if they can even use it in the first place would be astronomical.

Fast forward to now, many inquiries later from customers wondering what could possibly be taking us so long. Since keeping watch on the fragmentation issue and the evolution of the Android OS, it was starting to look more likely that it might be time to get the project going again. Having been burned in the first go-around, we started with research. We hired an outside consulting firm to do a market analysis of the different phone models out there, their native email clients, and their copy/paste functionalities. Results were positive… copy/paste is now ubiquitous on Android devices!

So we started development again full swing. Dev tools had improved since the early days, and new capabilities had arisen. Still nothing like the Apple/iOS development environment, but pretty good stuff. I’m leaving out a lot of hard work and dealing with bugs in the tools, OS, or different phones, but that’s nothing new since we’re used to developing with Microsoft Windows, the gold standard for difficult platforms. You can usually get around everything that comes up, it’s just painful.

But guess what… we’re back to square one! The first trial of the new build of Copy2Contact on a real device failed miserably. Not because of any programming failure, but because copy/paste on the device doesn’t work properly! When you copy a signature from an email, the email client puts everything on one line, completely removing the key formatting needed to separate the data into its individual fields. Copy2Contact is smart, but it’s not expecting a zip code to run right into a phone number, for example. Even a human would have to look carefully to realize the jumble of numbers isn’t one big international phone number, or a big typo.

Talk about frustrating, it’s back to research time. The question now is, how many Android devices out in the real world have this bug in their email application? The Android ecosystem is still very fragmented, with about half of Android users out there using a positively ancient version of the OS. But it’s clear this bug isn’t necessarily OS version specific. There are a multitude of different email clients, carrier customizations, and user interfaces out in the real world as well.

How Can You Help?

So that’s where we’re at with Copy2Contact for Android, and we could really use your help! To find out how prevalent this bug is, we’re asking people to complete a little test. Please click here to enter your Android device’s email address, and we’ll send you a little email with test instructions.  It’s a snap to do, and is a BIG help to us. Thanks! We have all the results we need right now, thanks!

  • dylane

    Thanks for the explanation, I’m new to android and will try the test, but i expect that my Note 2 will also have this problem since copy and paste is generally impossible on this phone. Really too bad since it would have been really useful today. Wish that there was a good mobile OS that was available these days.

  • B12d

    I’m surprised to hear that. I use two email clients and my wife has a third one (I use Gmail for my gmail account and AquaMail for all of the IMAP accounts, and my wife uses K-9). I don’t think I’ve got a mail account set up on the Samsung Galaxy S3 native email client but I’ll have a look, if I find one, will log another request for your little message to test

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Thanks for your help!

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Thanks, will be very interesting to see the results with different mail clients.

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Thanks, Sean, definitely something we’re aware of and have looked into. However, it doesn’t allow you to just send a part of an email message, which is what Copy2Contact needs.

  • Kenton Johnson

    Why do app developers start with iPhones/iPads when Android, win 8 and OS is a much larger market?

  • Kenton Johnson

    Have you asked for $$ on

  • Nicholas Maddix

    I’d bet every app is different, but for the reasons outlined above, the Android platform isn’t ready for Copy2Contact just yet. On smartphones, we started with BlackBerry since it’s a very mature and full featured OS. iOS didn’t have copy/paste right away but we released Copy2Contact for iPhone as soon as it did, and now we’re waiting for Android to join the rest of them. On the PC side, we’ve had Copy2Contact on Windows for 12 years now.

  • Nicholas Maddix

    The key to a good kickstarter campaign is having a clear goal and clear reward. For this Android project, we don’t need money… we need the platform and market to join the 21st century.

  • dmcgregor

    I finally was able to try the test on my Galaxy Note 2 and am pleased (and somewhat surprised) to say that the copy and paste with line breaks seemed to work fine.

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Glad to hear it. Unfortunately, about a third of the results coming back from our test show their phones have the bug. We’re back to the drawing board on trying to figure this one out. Look out for another article soon with our findings.

  • Daz

    damn liked this app on iphone, was looking for it on android

  • Alan Mecklenburger

    As someone who used this software on Palm and Windows (and subsequently BlackBerry) I think as early as 2001, it’s exceedingly frustrating that I can’t use it on a modern Android device. That said, I have 2 comments:
    1. It doesn’t make sense to me that you would use copy and paste rather than share for this. With the former, the user has to take action in the source program, manually exit the program, manually navigate to and launch the destination program, and take possibly take action there. However, with the latter, the only action the user needs to take is in the source program. Additionally, using copy and paste means using the copy-clipboard as a middleman, adding to the risk of data loss.
    2. I just tested and haven’t been able to recreate the issue with copy and paste dropping returns. I’ve seen Android drop returns when pasting into a single line text field, but I’m able to loose returns when pasting to somewhere that supports returns. With the share functionality, I’ve also seen returns changed to HTML break tags, but that should be okay for your software.

    P.S. I copied and pasted this message in Android 4.1.2, returns and all.

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Thanks for your feedback, Alan. Believe me, the whole situation is more frustrating for us. As to #1: the reason not to use the “share” feature is that it shares the entire email with the target application, but Copy2Contact needs just the contact information. Additional steps would need to be added after the share to accurately find the text you wanted, negating any savings. As to #2: unfortunately, you’re in the minority. The results of our crowdsourced tests show that the bug exists even in late model Android devices and OS versions 4.x. We could find no pattern to it.

  • KJ

    Any update on C2C for Android? It’s been 2 years and several Android versions…

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Hi KJ- The situation hasn’t changed much, unfortunately. Newer devices seem to not have this bug, but there are still a huge number of people out there using older devices that have the issue, and it’s impossible to know who until they try it.

  • KJ

    Wouldn’t a minimum requirement of, say, Android 4.3 avoid those older devices?

  • Nicholas Maddix

    It would, but it would also reduce the number of potential users. Things are slowly changing as people adopt newer versions of the OS. 4.3 minimum would mean we could reach about 40% of Android users. It would not be worth it from a business sense just yet.

  • KJ

    Your call obviously, but if 4.3+ is 40% of Android, and Android is 85% of new smartphone shipments ( ) then it seems like the Android market should be bigger than the iOS market.

  • Nicholas Maddix

    Technically bigger, perhaps, but much more costly to support, with much more piracy, and with fewer serious business users. It just doesn’t make sense for a small company with a niche product… we would never make our money back.