Sunday, May 19, 2013

Google Keep - is it better than Evernote?

Google Keep - is it better than Evernote?

Recently Google pulled out another hare out of the hat, named Google Keep. Its a simple note taking app for android available on Google Play store and there is also an web version available. While there are a number of note apps for android, the real question is, is there any real need for a new app from Google? Or, is it better than the previous ones?

Google Keep is a digital replacement for the sticky notes stuck across your desk, monitor, and refrigerator. The major digital advantage, of course, is that you can access your notes and reminders from anywhere you have Internet access since all your notes are synced to Google Drive. Once you’ve got the Android app installed, creating a note in Keep is straightforward. At the top of the screen you have an icon menu allowing you to create a text note, checklist, audio note, or snap a photo. One handy feature transcribes audio notes into text, with the original recording being embedded in the body of the note. Photo notes include a spot for adding text if you wish. You can also add a quick text note by tapping the “Add quick note” area above the menu icons. Every note you create is searchable and displayed right underneath the menu bar using the card metaphor that Google utilizes for Android services such as Google Now.
By default, your notes are displayed in a grid view, but a single column view is available as well. Tapping on a note opens it up in full screen view, and swiping a note to the left or right in the main screen archives it. You can view your archive by tapping the three-square icon in the upper right-hand corner and selecting “Archived notes.” Each note can be color-coded by tapping the color palette icon when viewing notes in full screen. This can be helpful if you want to separate your to-do checklists from general reminders, or you just want to identify photo notes at a glance. There are currently eight colors to choose from, including basic white. Pro tip: If you change the color of your note when using the “Add quick note” option that will permanently change your notes’ default from white to the new color.  
Android users can also share their notes with others by selecting the share icon inside a note while in full screen. Keep's sharing function works similarly to the general Android sharing options, allowing you to share notes using the apps installed on your device. 

But our question was is it better than Evernote or other note apps?

Pros of Google Keep / Cons of Evernote

  1. Easier to make and manage checklists. Checklist is a note type. You can easily drag-and-drop to reorder items.
  2. Easier to dictate a note and have it transcribed.
  3. Possibility of deeper integration with Android and the Google ecosystem.
  4. Set note colors, perhaps as a way to categorize your notes.

Cons of Google Keep / Pros of Evernote

  1. No rich-text editing. No ordered or unordered lists, no hyperlinks, no bold or italics, etc.
  2. No ability to clip web pages.
  3. No ability to attach documents like PDFs, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc., though I imagine we’ll see Drive and Docs integration eventually.
  4. No OCR-like functionality.
  5. No notebooks or tags or similar tools for organization.
  6. No integration with Google Tasks.
  7. No collaboration.

So is Google Keep better than Evernote? For me the answer is clearly a no. Does it have the potential to get there? Perhaps, but it’s not clear what Google’s long-term plans are for it. For the Google user looking for very basic note-taking functionality who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles that Evernote offers, Google Keep might be the better choice.

Google Keep won’t be replacing Evernote for me anytime soon—at least not without addressing most of the issues mentioned above. But it does look like a nice app worth keeping an eye on. And the competition in the note-taking space means we all benefit.

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