Mar 22, 2013
A lot of people — the whole wide world, seemingly — are not too happy with Google’s decision to discontinue its popular Reader application.
If Google Keep (it’s newly unveiled cloud-supported note taking app) is supposed to be a mea culpa, Google might already be back in our hearts.
The Android note-taking space is not sparse by any means. There are plenty of note apps, and the competition creates a very high bar. Google’s last offering, Notebook was okay, but lacked oomph. Thus, even Google needs a pretty good offering to stay abreast. Keep, I think, does that.
Simplicity, Google’s oft-repeated mantra, is clearly at work here. The interface is clean, with minimalist undertones that seemingly beg to be filled with information. The default light grays and whites combined well. Per user interface, the app allowed for dual panes or a single line of notes, and I was also able to personalize notes by switching background color.
The “simple” looks translated to the on-screen controls as well, with the developers opting for a regular entry button, a check box marker, a microphone for dictated text and a control to invoke the camera for imaged notes. In real-world tests, the entry sequences were smooth and intuitive. The audio functionality worked very well, which was key for me; many of my note entries are dictated, so accuracy is important. I liked that i could archive notes by swiping and toggle check boxes on the fly.
I think the true strength of Keep is it functionality. Google makes the app sync to Google Docs, which is a positive if you have already started using Google Docs. I love the ability to look up and access and/or edit files on the go. It worked well with my device’s share functionality; it pulled in actual text from the note into the my calendar app, instead of a link to the note url as one leading note app does. Now, I would loved to see it pull information from the app, liked entered dates, to create a true calendar entry. Street addresses entered into the app became clickable links that automatically invoked the map app; phone numbers pulled up the dialer. A resizeable widget adds to the overall appeal.
I would have loved for a filing convention of some sort, but barebones is barebones.
Time will tell if Keep will develop a following. It has plenty of upside, but the cool thing is that it seems to be so useful already.