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So after setting up Google Apps for a small business, I've been amazed at how it fills the role as a simpler Active Directory.

However, how can I access these contacts on a mobile phone, e.g.,an iPhone? As far as I can tell, it doesn't sync to my phone.

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It seems the contacts doesn't sync, but you should be able search them from your iPhone. This means you have to be on-line to find them. From support.google.com:

How to search your Google Apps Directory and Global Address List on iOS

  1. On your iPhone, launch the Contacts app.
  2. Go to the Groups selection screen.
  3. Select your_account Global Address List, where your_account is what you've named your account on the device.
  4. Search for a contact.

All of the matching contacts from your directory should show up, such as users in your domain. You can search for users in your organization using this method even if they're not listed as contacts on your device under My Contacts.

This presumes you have set up your Google Apps for Work/.edu/.gov account as an Exchange Active Sync account on your iPhone. See Google's documentation for that.

I just tested this for myself. I'm able to search the global contacts, and for any result I can choose to add it to my local address book, or update an existing contact.

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  • Yes this is how it works with Exchange Accounts at least. If I try this with a Google account, it shows as empty(no contacts are synced down to the device). So I'll try adding the Google account as an exchange account and see if it does this :) – Kenny Bones Jun 9 '16 at 11:04
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At this time, there isn't a cross-platform Google Contacts mobile app. iOS users could use the native Contact app (see Use Google Apps on iOS), Android 2.1 - 2.3x users could use Google Apps Lookup.

End-Users can access the Global Directory by using Gmail or Google Contacts desktop web apps. They could try to use these apps from the mobile web browser, but at this time the Google Contacts web UI is not responsive, in other words, could be hard to use it in a small touch screen.

If users only want to access people on the same organization and Google+ is enable for the organization and the users, they could try to use Google+ mobile app. An alternative that could work for people from a small business is to move the Directory contacts to "My Contacts" by using a desktop browser in advance of trying to search for contacts on the users mobile devices.

A hack that you could try is to a add your Google Apps for Work account as it was an Microsoft Exchange account by following a similar setup the resulting one by following the directions given by Google on Sync Calendar, Gmail, and other Google Apps with your iPhone

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  • Yes I'm aware of the desktop functionally. I just assumed there was a Google Contacts app as well for iOS and Android, like it has with sheet and docs. The copying of contacts is exactly what I do not want. I want contacts to be controlled from my Google admin application, and have that information spread down to all devices. So each employee don't administrate these contacts at all. – Kenny Bones Jun 9 '16 at 10:51
  • Please consider to update your question with the additional information from your comment. – Rubén Jun 9 '16 at 10:56

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