Note: This review was requested on the review request thread.
Search Dial is just that...a searching program for numbers to dial. But it adds a little more functionality into just looking through your contact list.
The Search Dial interface is very straightfoward. When you start the program, you are presented with a screen to select "call", "SMS", or "Email". You then start to type a persons name (first or last) and as your type, contacts that match the description start to appear. The more you type, the more specific you are, and the more it narrows down the contact options. Let's look at each of the options one at a time.
When searching phone number (call), you are given an individual listing for each phone number that a person has. To dial the number, you simply tap the persons name. This is a nice feature that differs from the normal contact book lookup, when you have to go into the contact the choose the phone number you want to dial. If you use the SearchDial program to dial the phone number, that number is stored in a "frequently dialed" cache, to act as your...well...frequently dialed list.
For the SMS message, when you start typing in a contact name, the mobile number appears. I tried to trick it by typing in a name of someone who didn't have a mobile number, and no phone number appeared. So it is smart! When you tap a person's name, you then can send them an SMS.
Lastly, the email button. Again, type in the name, and the person (and their email address) appear. I tried to type in a name of someone who had multiple email addresses, and they were all listed individually.
One nice feature with this is that you can actually type part of the email address, or part of their phone number (not just the person's name) and the contact will still appear. You can also search with intials, company name, etc. The normal contact book doesn't do this - there you need to use the persons name.
In all cases, when you hit a name to call, SMS, or email, the default program opens for the appropriate contact method.
When you first start the program, you have to refresh the information by syncing your contact list. If you make any changes in the contact book, you need to manually sync those changes in this program. It would be nice if you could schedule a sync when you start the program (say, making sure it has been updated once a week or so), but I am not sure how useful that would be since it can't sync in the background (nothing can, Apple doesn't allow programs to run in the background).
This is a pretty nice little application, if you want to use something other than the default contact list. And in my opinion, that is the biggest question. If you find the default contact book isn't meeting your needs (and for people with HUGE numbers of contacts, it may not), or if you have contacts with lots of multiple information (multiple phone numbers, email, etc) then you may benefit from this program. On the other hand, if you have 50 contact, each with one email and only a few with multiple phone numbers, this program doesn't seem like it would be that much benefit for you. Basically, this program is designed to cut down on time to find a contact...and the time only takes a while if you have a lot of contacts.
I will say that the search features are especially nice, and splitting up the contacts for each phone number or email address is nice as well. But with my measly 150 contacts (give or take), most of whom I only have addresses for, I don't think it would be worthwhile.
Some improvements I would like to see would include that ability to have an entire contact list, and edit contacts in this program (and sync them back). Then it could completely take over for the existing contact book (although Apple may not like that, so they may not allow it...and it may not even be possible!). Also, it would be nice if it could import the recent dialed and recent received call lists from the phone app, rather than rely on using SearchDial to make its own frequent call list.
Pros: Easy to use, delivers the results
Cons: Real benefit is when you have lots of contacts, or multiple information for each contact.
All in all, this is a nice app, that does exactly what it says it will do. And for some people, I could see a real benefit to using this. At $.99, if you think it might be helpful (if you spend too much time looking through your contacts to find the right name, phone number, email address, etc) it is worth giving a shot. 4 out of 5 stars.