STOP comparing Google Keep to Evernote

Pun intended, but please take note: Google Keep is NOT an Evernote killer. Hell, I can't even say it is competition against Remember The Milk with a straight face. What I will say is that it is a nice, simple, straightforward note jotting app that synchronizes with the cloud. One of my initial thoughts however was that Google Keep could make an interesting alternative to "Secret" Pinterest boards.

Google Keep was recently released on March 20, hot on the heels of the Spring Cleaning of other apps, some of which are much lamented, like Google Reader.

I've done some playing around with Google Keep and here are my thoughts -- straight from the app itself.

Things Keep does right

  • Google integration. So long as Keep isn't sunset before its time (*cough* bitter about Reader *cough*), this is a plus.
  • Dictation. Finally! Take a voice note and it will transcribe it for you.
  • Search feature. Duh. It is Google. But let's integrate this deeper.
  • Keep is primarily an app, and as a result, it is very simple, and has a mobile-friendly UI. This makes it very easy to use right from the start.
  • Swiping to archive. This is smooth, and again speaks to the nice UI.

Things Keep needs in order to be viable

There's no comparison to Evernote. Period. Here's a list of things that if added would make it a better note-taking app.

  • Text formatting. Seriously? I can't even italicize, underline, or bold anything? At least make a single button for formatting that can expand out. I understand the simple approach, but if you can't format, this will never be anything more than a jot pad. (I guess that's the point.)
    • I'm not talking full on formatting. That's what Google Docs are for.
  • Sort by/filter. Kind of a no-brainer. Sort by Title, date added, date modified, etc.
  • Categories and/or tags. Seriously. Color-coding is just not cutting it.
  • Drag-drop ordering -- add this to the web interface and KEEP it on the mobile app. This is something Evernote CAN'T and likely won't do (seeing as how many folks have requested it and we still don't have it.)
  • More than just Android apps. I happen to have an Android phone, so I'm cool with it. But if Google wants this to be successful, make an iPhone app.
    • The promo video says it "syncs across all your devices". Yeah, just your web browser (*cough* Chrome *cough*), Android phones and tablets, oh yeah, and those Chromebooks, I expect.
  • Web links. Separate from the "formatting" issue, but could be handled by the same stroke. Allow us to paste in live web address URL links. Sure I could paste them in, but then I have to copy them out to use them.
  • Ordering your checklist. Really? I can't re-order my check list? What if I am writing a step-by-step guide, using the handy checklist feature, but after writing some steps I realized I missed a step. Or have a step out of order. Best you can do is insert a step. And copy/paste to reorder.
  • Search integration. If I am logged into Google, and I do a Google Search, I want you to search my Keep Notes! You should do this with Google Drive, too. Just sayin'. Again, Evernote has you beat on this front.
  • Speaking of Google Drive. So the hype is that these Keep notes are synchronized in my Google Drive. Maybe they are, but you can't SEE them in your Google Drive. This seems like an oversight. How about at least a link on your Drive to your notes. Right now it really just seems like a separate feature that just happens to be stored in the cloud.
    • What would be wicked is if Notes were just another type of Document in your Google Drive. Why are they separate, or worse, apparently hidden away?

Things that would make Keep powerful

Evernote has nothing to worry about right now. Here's a few things that if they just added them to Keep, would make them a strong contender.

  • Groups. Not just notebooks/folders either. Give me the ability to nest them and order anyway I want.
  • Bookmarklet. Evernote excels in letting you bookmark sites you find online. From just a URL to part or all of a webpage. I cannot tell you just how supremely valuable this one feature of Evernote is for gathering research. Think of this as +1 Plus Plus!
  • Graphic bookmarking. Like "Pin this" on Pinterest. Without this, Keep will not even be a competitor for Pinterest "Secret" boards. I think Keep might have a shot at this, but it never will if all you can do is attach pics from the web or photos from your phone.
    • I imagine that Google Image Search could eventually have this feature baked in. Searching for an image? Want to "Keep It?" If Google *doesn't* do this, they are stupid.
    • OK, so that's harsh, as we cross some copyright/free use boundaries. But hasn't Google Image Search already crossed that line by displaying those images on a site other than their original page? I guess blatantly letting you paste them into your notes goes too far. But then, see Pinterest.
  • Attachments. First, a little consistency. In the app, I can only attach photos from the camera -- to attach an existing image, you can browse the gallery then share. On the web, I can at least attach images from the PC. The next step is to attach other documents. Again, if Google does not immediately start with docs in my Google Drive, they are stupid. These could easily just be links. In fact, it might be best if it was links rather than actual attachments. But if I want to, I should be able to attach a document like a picture, and have a note about it.
  • Search graphics. OK, so yeah, this is a pretty neat trick that Evernote does right now. A killer feature. Snap a photo of something like a sign or even a white board. Evernote can scan the graphic and find the text in it. You can then search all your notes and if that term is IN A PICTURE it highlights it. Google, make this happen for Keep. You're welcome.

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