WhitePages Mobile for iPhone

One of the joys of the Mac community is that if you find something--a program, a method of doing something, what have you--there usually isn't a shortage of people willing to suggest alternatives. That same sort of "Hey, did you consider this?" spirit seems to be emerging in these early years of the iPhone platform as well.

Take my recent , an iPhone application that looks up phone numbers and addresses for people who aren't among your Contacts. People is... all right--it works as advertised and it's free, so it's a perfectly acceptable people finder for your iPhone or iPod touch. But I noted some general interface flaws--specifically, no way of easily clearing search fields if you wanted to look another phone number and the inability to selectively purge recent searches.

One reader posting in suggested giving WhitePages Mobile a try. Like People, this free app looks up names, addresses, and phone numbers from . But in this case, the application is actually made by WhitePages.com, so you're going directly to the source. More important, WhitePages Mobile eliminates some of the interface quirks of People that I found particularly bothersome while expanding the app's searching capabilities.

As with People, you search for phone numbers on WhitePages Mobile by typing in a last name and a street address, city, or state. However, as you type in a location, WhitePages Mobile proposes city names that look like what you're typing, much in the same way that offers suggested search terms as you type. So as you start typing in "San Francisco" to look up a phone number for that city, WhitePages Mobile offers you the option of tapping on San Diego, San Antonio, San Jose and other options that keep adjusting as you type. ("San Francisco," in fact appears by the time you type out san f. Tap on a suggestion and WhitePages Mobile fills the field, saving you typing time.'

Even better, each search field has a gray X at the far right of each entry. Tap that, and the field clears of any data. This saves you from having to repeatedly tap on the backspace button when you want to run another search, as you would have to do in People.

Once you have a search result, WhitePages Mobile functions much the same way as People does. Tap the phone number and, if you're using an iPhone, the phone will dial up the number. Tap the Create New Contact or Add Existing Contact to add the newly found name, number, and address to your address book. (Contacts never actually launches, so it's hard to tell at first that you've updated your contact list with this new data.) The WhitePages search results page also includes a map image showing a thumbnail of the address listed; tap that, and the Maps application launches.