One of the first productivity apps I used on a smartphone was Evernote. Needless to say it blew my mind away – the simplicity, ease of use and the sophistication too.
Then came along a product by Google called Keep. I tried this and never looked back – except when I needed to check for older notes on Evernote.
Three years later, Keep has evolved from a minimal note-taking app to a minimal note-taking app with useful features. Evernote, on the other hand seems to have simplified their user experience more while retaining all those advanced features. So is it time to take a look back at the two apps?
I love features such as swipe to archive. Also love the toast that says ‘undo’ when you archive or delete a note, just like on gmail. Makes the app feel intuitive and forgiving.
Next, we have the ability to add color to our notes, giving it some life. This also makes the whole experience way better – like sticky notes inside your browser.
When using the app, you do not need to be online. The same on the browser – it continues to work when disconnected and syncs your notes once you get access to the internet.
You are not limited to plain old notes. There are lists with checkboxes that get crossed and go out of your way once checked. Useful for shopping lists and tasks (if you don’t use Wunderlist). Notes can have reminders too – time specified or location specified.
You can have audio notes that are automatically converted to text and stored – works really well. The same with photos. Add an image and the app uses OCR to extract out the text – works even better than audio. You can also add drawings and sketches by using your finger or stylus – I don’t use it but could be useful for some.
Another neat feature is the ability to have real-time collaborations. I can create a note and share it with my team and all of us (who are given permission) can edit and see the changes in real time. Didn’t work as fast as Google Docs but gets the job done. Very useful for projects.
Finally the big advantage here is you get all these features for free.
However, some people might miss format text feature or having folders like on gmail.
To avoid repeating myself, I will be talking about what’s more and different in Evernote since this app already has most of Keep’s features.
Web Clipper is a tool for Evernote (a browser extension) which allows the user to save content from websites to Evernote automatically. Keep also has an extension now but with very limited options.
The other big feature I love is the text formatting that is available here. This includes different headings, bold, underline, italics etc. as well as numbering for your prioritized lists. You can include images within the document unlike Keep which does not allow that. In essence, you can create a word-document style notes.
Evernote allows to organize your notes using notebooks – similar to storing them within folders. Moreover, you can attach different types of files within the notes including videos.
It also allows you to search for hand written notes within the notes collection – a feature missing on Keep. In addition to collaboration on a note, the participants can chat with each other while doing this, just like on Google Docs. This is called Work Chat.
Another useful feature is the ability to scan paper documents and turn them into notes. This can be a big feature for busy professionals who want to keep things organized.
However, this app does not support different color notes like Keep does.
Although you can get started with Evernote for free, this version only gives 60MB of storage. If you want more, you will have to opt for a premium subscription. This is not the case with Keep.
Both apps have a clean and intuitive user experience. Both apps have an easy learning curve and both apps are overall well built. And both green and yellow colors are easy on the eyes.
Which is the better app
Think of Google Keep as an organised collection of sticky notes and Evernote as a personalized journal. Both applications have their strengths and are great at what they offer.
If you are getting started into notes app or need a simple and easy to use application to take notes on the fly, go with Keep. However, if you want advanced web features or you are a student who likes to take notes in an organised way with text formatting and images within your notes, Evernote would certainly sound better.
Since coming back to Evernote, I use Keep as the primary note-taking app and Evernote for study related work.
What is your pick? Is it one of the above or OneNote or a good old notebook made from trees?
Choose well. Stop being busy and get productive.