Google Keeps adds features via update

Google Keeps adds features via update

Apr 20, 2016

Google Keep is getting better on the web and mobile.

How many times have you found yourself with a great idea, but no easy way to jot it down for later? Or maybe you’ve got lots of notes scattered around, without no central spot to find them. Having a single place to capture what’s on your mind and save your ideas and to-do lists is what Google Keep is all about, and today’s updates give you a few new ways to collect and manage the information that’s important to you.

Keep is ready when you are

The next time you’re on a website that you want to remember or reference later on, use the new Keep Chrome extension to add it—or any part of it—to a note in Keep. Just click the Keep badge to add a site’s link to a note, or select some text or an image and create a new note from the right-click menu.

Same goes for Android—you can now create a note while you’re browsing or tapping away in other apps—without having to open Keep. Just open the “Share via” window and choose Keep to create a new note.

Organize your thoughts with #Labels
One of your top asks has been for a way to organize and categorize notes, and now it’s as easy as using a #hashtag. This should help you keep track of to-do lists for a #trip or a collect your favorite #recipes, for example.

You’ll also notice that some of the menus have been moved around to group similar options together, as pictured below.

So whether you’re researching a project at work, putting together details for your Science Fair submission, or collecting inspiration for your upcoming home renovation, give these updates a try on the web, or with the Keep app on Android and for iPhone & iPad.

Google Keep Gets Doodling Feature

Google Keep Gets Doodling Feature

Oct 28, 2015

Google Keep, the note-taking application from you-know-who is getting a nifty feature: the ability to doodle on images.

The feature is rolling out now via an update on Google Play.

We had a chance to check out Keep when it first launched, and liked the clean, robust feel; it remains free on Google Play.

google keep

Notepad Reminder Review

Notepad Reminder Review

Aug 27, 2014

Smartphones are predicated on convenience. The best apps are simple to use and make people’s lives easier. But for some reason, app developers have not harnessed the convenient potential of widgets. At least, that is the concept behind Notepad Reminder, a note-taking widget that is easy to use and easier to access.

Rather than digging through menus and taking time to open an app, widgets offer a way to interact with an app right on an Android device’s home screen. This feature is typically used to relay emails or check sports scores at a moment’s notice, but Notepad Reminder takes it to another level, adding usability and productivity right to the home screen.

Notepad-Reminder-2Users can install the widget on one of the many slides that make up their home screen and access all of the app’s features directly from the widget. In fact, there is no app, making it the most simplistic way to take notes on an Android device.

Instead of a one-sized-fits-all widget, the Notepad Reminder widget can be customized to a users liking on the home screen. This approach allows each individual user to get what they desire from the app. While one person may need the widget to be as large as possible to read notes, another may prefer a smaller widget to take short, simple notes on the go.

After positioning the widget on your Android device, you can immediately get started leaving notes. A small bar along the top of the widget prompts users to add a note and select a priority. The widget is helpful for completing tasks such as creating a grocery list or a to-do file for the day. However, users in need of taking larger, more intensive notes will find the widget experience cumbersome. Longer notes will display on the widget, but there isn’t room for a lot of information and typing within the bar is unintuitive.

Despite its simplicity, the Notepad Reminder widget also has some features that are typically found in full-fledged apps. Users can set a reminder for each note directly within the widget. Once a task is completed, the note can also be deleted efficiently. There are no complicated menu screens or additional buttons to press; all of this can be achieved directly from the widget using understated yet obvious buttons near each note.

The straightforwardness of the widget is its greatest strength, but also is its biggest weakness. Users will find themselves creating lists on the app, but only one list at a time. There are no organizing features to create long-form notes or organize a list with a title. It would be nice if users had the additional option of using the widget to directly open specific notes within the app. Instead, there is no physical app, meaning some users will find little function for the widget.

Overall, the Notepad Reminder widget is a solid way to jot down quick notes or run down a grocery list without having to dig through menus. However, the app is almost too simple. The oversimplified user interface and lack of a full featured app will make users quickly forget about Notepad Reminder.

Notepad+ Review

Notepad+ Review

Aug 14, 2014

For the mobile-centric person, it helps to have a quick method of entering notes. Notepad+ looks to be a intuitive solution.

The opening interface is fairly simple, and the developer does a good job of making the app feel intuitive off the bat. After installing, the huge plus (+) sign within a larger rectangle rests to the top left of the screen, and tapping it opens the main notebook/album page. Here, one can choose to enter a note by handwriting by finger or typing entries via device keyboard. The notebook title can also be selected, along with paper style from several offered types.

The handwriting feature is great for quick entries with a minimum of prior touches, and is quite easy to note1manipulate. It allows for several different colors and line thicknesses to be used, so one can “write” with different colored “ink” too. As most hand/finger-writing tools, block lettering is probably easier to decipher than cursive. Of course, one can draw objects with this entry method as well.

One unique feature is said method of entering typed text. When the text icon is selected, the user is prompted to tap on a free part of the screen, and, when performed, an adjustable text box appears in which the typed text can be placed. For customization feens, Notepad+ covers the bases: text font and colors can be adjusted via the adjustment tools that appear above the keyboard.

A notebook or album can have multiple pages within; to enter a second page, just swipe across the page to start a second note, and so on and so forth. This is useful for blocks of ideas, or categorized groups of entries. As an added bonus, notebooks can be assigned a four digit password for privacy.

The app provides share functionality, and incorporates the expected tools: email, bluetooth, messaging and more. It gave every share possible app on our test device as an option to send with.

The app is pretty good, but this leads to my biggest gripe: the lack of sync functionality. It begs to be used across devices, and I would have loved a common repository of notes. The share functionality somewhat alleviates this concern.

As a standalone app, I works well, and feels quite worth the $1.99 asking price.

StackNotes Review

StackNotes Review

Aug 27, 2013

A good, mobile note-taking app is essential these days, and that is what StackNotes is banking on. Its developers clearly want folks to depend on it, and the simple, clean design seems to attest to that.

In the free stack, there are a few customization options. Starting with themes, you can select from Jellybean, Classic, Safari or Princess, with a few more available to Pro users.

The truly refreshing thing about this application is the design. The filing structure stacks… virtually, that is. This “stacking” style was interestingly intuitive, and works quite well within the gestural precepts that govern the app. To create a basic note, you create a folder (or tap one that is already created) and go to town. From the main stack1interface, existing folders are presented, a swipe to the right reveals the menu, from which new folders can be created. The parent folders have a number count beside the text listing which indicates the number of notes stacked therein.

To create a note, simply tapping on the folder invokes a slide-to page from which a new note can be added. The new note can be titled, and there are buttons to toggle emoji and even simple alarms. From the in-note menu, it is possible to add in audio, handwritten (or stylus-written) text in five possible colors, or a picture from gallery. It’s nice that if one is feeling especially artistic, it is possible to invoke the device camera from within the app and work from there. Such seemingly little features add up to increase the overall functionality of the note taking app.

The elephants in the room occupied by any note-taking app residing in Android-land are probably Evernote and Google Keep; a big part of the effectiveness of those apps is arguably the cloud syncing they offer. StackNotes provides this as well; there is a web portal that provides access to notes synced to its servers. The application offers a Pro set of features, which allows for unlimited sync and an extra batch of themes, but does feel quite useful in the free iteration.

StackNotes is a fine option in a stacked field, and earns big ups from for minimalist effectiveness.

Google Keep Adds Chrome Compatibility

Google Keep Adds Chrome Compatibility

May 8, 2013

Admit it: we were all a bit enthralled with the introduction of Google Keep, Google’s mobile note-keeping solution. It was clean, fairly lightweight and nice to look at.

A problem for power users such as myself (I do say that with full modesty) was the glaring lack of a desktop companion. You know… for the times that the mobile warrior is obligated to go so low as to get on a laptop our desktop. Having a note application that is accessible on the fly is practically the only real reason to use one. So, we whined about it (and by “we” I mean I did it on your behalf). Google clearly puts a high premium on what I have to say; I don’t mean to brag though.

Thankfully, Google has somewhat addressed the problem by introducing Keep for Chrome, an extension that, well, extends the functionality of the mobile dream catcher. To use it with Chrome, the user will have to be logged into a Google account.

Of course, we’d love for Keep to possibly work with other browsers, but Chrome browser users like myself are happy to be the favored children. In my testing, the extension worked well and reflected compete sync with mobile app. I would like tighter integration with Google Docs; how about a fixed icon link from within Docs settings instead of a URL? Some folks will probably crave a local desktop companion too. Some issues still remain, such as the inability to categorize notes with tags.

Still, sounds like this app is definitely worth taking another look at, and it’s good to see Google working on increasing the functionality of new apps, especially with many still shell-shocked by the shuttering of Google Reader. Keep might not yet have the raw power or cross-platform appeal of, say, Evernote, but its minimal design is a plus.

KickStarter Spotlight: HabitRPG

KickStarter Spotlight: HabitRPG

Jan 16, 2013

I just wrote an app review about an app that really helps me keep my life organized called Catch Notes. In that post I talk about the struggles I – like millions of other people – have with remembering events and to-do items. Apps in this space are generally very similar and are just slightly different iterations of the same thing; the idea stays consistent and there is very little motivation to pay attention to them. This is most apparent when trying to work on bad habits or trying to start new good ones. This is not going to be a cheesy New Year’s post, but the best way to change for the better is to work on the small things instead of trying to make large drastic changes. Since the biggest problem with existing apps is that there is a lack of motivation to continue checking them, and the medium that has most mastered this addictive motivation are video games, it was only a matter of time before there was a hybrid love-child of the two. This chimera is one of the more creative KickStarter projects we have done here, and it is called HabitRPG.

For all those who are confused, do not worry, for it is a very strange concept at first. But after thinking about it for a while the concept is startlingly simple: give the user a RPG avatar who levels up and earns new gear based on how successful set habits or reminders are completed. My first reaction upon hearing this, however, was that it is kind of strange that people would be needing this. HabitRPG is like playing an objective based video game of real life but through an avatar.

This concept would probably lead many people to shake their heads and declare the end of the civilized world entirely, but I can really see a set of people that this project would work. In fact, HabitRPG has been a fully working website for quite some time now, but the bugs are starting to mount and demands for a mobile app are rising. To fulfill these needs, developer Tyler Renelle needs to make HabitRPG his full time job which means a steady source of income. That is why he is seeking out KickStarter like so many others to help offset the cost of making these apps. While I do not think that I need this much motivation, those who are having trouble making those small lifestyle adjustments might want to give Tyler and his very inventive app the funding it needs.

Catch Notes App Review

Catch Notes App Review

Jan 14, 2013

Seeing as I am an inherently disorganized person, finding a way to keep tabs on my life is something that I have been searching for a very long time. I have tried a myriad of solutions for both my smartphone and laptop, but I always have a hard time sticking to one; lack of features and limited connectivity between devices tend to be the problems that frequent my life most often. A big problem is that I run Apple’s OS X on my laptop and have an Android smartphone, obviously two devices that do not play well together. So my solution was to look for something that had a web-based service in addition to their standalone app that anyone could access from wherever they were, no matter the operating system. My searching brought me along a great app company called Catch who has an incredible note-taking app for Android that also syncs to an online web-app.

The app is, fittingly, called Catch Notes and connects though the traditional logins of Twitter and Facebook as well as an optional login. After downloading this app, the first thing that I noticed was the simplicity of the styling. Out of all the note apps that I looked at, and I looked at quite a few, this one was by-far-and-away the most attractive and intuitive. The main screen has a list of “spaces” which are basically user-created, pastel colored categories for notes. At the bottom is a small, gray half circle button to add a new note which quickly toggles a wheel to add different kinds of notes. Catch Notes can handle alarms, photos, text, voice, and checklist notes which really make this app incredibly flexible and useful. The add button is persistent throughout the whole app which makes quickly adding notes a cinch and the intuitive interface is a joy to use.

The online web-app is not as tightly styled as its mobile partner, but it is still very functional nonetheless; especially when paired as a shortcut on a desktop which is a great way to quickly add and sync notifications to a computer. It is important to note that Catch does not sync with any existing note app such as Google Notes or Apple’s Reminders, but it does allow sharing of notes and spaces with other users. Anyone looking for a great note taking app should look no more because Catch Note is the best, and most attractive, note-taking app for Android that I have ever used.

MyShelf Review

MyShelf Review

Aug 28, 2012

People collect notes. Back before computers were popular, notebooks and post-its were all the rage. Now people use note taking applications. There are a lot of these applications out there. Evernote is popular but kind of bland looking. MyShelf is a more visual information keeper.

Like many of the other note taking applications for Android, importing more than text is possible. The option to add images, either from the picture gallery or by taking a picture, is super useful. Think of it like this, using an image to store the type and wattage light bulb is in the livingroom lamp or the tracking number of a package is much easier than having several notes to look through later.

The information MyShelf stores is local. The first time MyShelf is opened, there is a choice of storage location; either the microSD card if there is one or internal storage. MyShelf is a stand alone application for all platforms but there is the option of syncing with the desktop version. The directions are on their site

Sorting the motes and images will help make things easier to find later. So instead of having one big list of stuff to sift through, using tags and creating what is called an Element. An element is a folder to group notes and images.

Speaking of grouping and using tags, here are a few ideas to of how to use MyShelf:

  • An Element for each project.
  • A common tag for each type of project (e.g. web design, marketing, sales proposal) to make it easier to find like items.
  • Household items in an Element and tagged with each room or area.

When using any note taking application there really isn’t a set way to use it. Sure there are options and suggestions, but they work best when they are easy for the user. If it isn’t easy to use, it will feel forced and the user will abandon it. Try more than one note app. If it feels wrong, move to another one and another one.

Make Notes Out of Everything with Note Everything

Make Notes Out of Everything with Note Everything

Aug 24, 2012

I’m always wanting to find more interesting new apps for Android. Recently, I was alerted to the existence of an app called Note Everything. Its goal? To let users make notes of just about, well, everything! Need to jot something down? Use the text note functionality to note something quickly. Use paint notes to make a quick sketch. Just do a better job with drawing than amateur fresco restorers do. Record some quick thoughts with the audio note. The app can also integrate with Barcode Scanner to make notes from QR codes, and with a Google Drive (nee Docs) plugin to make notes from documents. The core app is free to use, with a Pro plugin available. Pro features include photo notes, checklists, and even encryption. Those photo notes must be kept secret from the world! Note Everything is available from Google Play, and various other plugins for the app can be found on the store as well.

BugMe! Stickies Pro Review

BugMe! Stickies Pro Review

Jul 31, 2012

When it comes to note-taking, I can be very picky. I tend to gravitate towards having too much functionality than too little. But sometimes, as it is with all software, simple is better, and that is where I needed BugMe! Stickies Pro from Electric Pocket to fit the bill intelligently.

Or, I wondered, does it just hide some serious artillery beneath the guise of simplicity? I decided to find out.

BugMe! took me back to a less cluttered time… the UI was great. It invoked stickies (obviously) and corkboard. The program allowed me to create stickies by writing on squared yellow “paper” and to populate these newly created stickies on my device home page.

The ease of entry is where I think BugMe shines. I could enter data with the installed keyboard, but also had the option of writing with my finger. Now for me, this is huge; it put back the “impromptu” into impromptu note taking.

In addition, I was able to set alarms to my notes. So, I could take a quick memo and transform it to a task on the fly. Also, it has a built-in Share functionality that I tested by sending a note, which the program sent as a .png image. I could also share via major social networks.

I found the program to be pretty customizable, as I could change background and digital ink color. In an interesting twist, I found that I was able to use personal picture as a background for a note (or take a picture on the go). I was able to create a personal note about my kids with an image of my kids as the backdrop. I liked that feature more than I thought I would; it allowed me to further personalize reminders and notes with a unique touch. In this specific regard, BugMe! provided me with an almost limitless amount of templates.

All in all, I thought BugMe! packed a lot of punch into its sub 6 MB frame. What I would have initially considered a disadvantage (lack of cloud compatibility) I would actually consider to be a part of its simple charm: localization. It is effective, handy and easily accessible, which makes it the perfect ode to an era when productivity was measured in square, yellow stickies.

ColorNote Review

ColorNote Review

Dec 6, 2010

Ahh, the sticky note. That quintessential reminder tool that allows us to free up brain cells for more important tasks like playing Angry Birds. The older I get the more I find myself needing some sort of reminder/to-do list to help me remember the important stuff. ColorNote by Note is a simple yet creative notepad app that brings these famous sticky stationary pads to our powerful Android devices. Instead of your average boring notepad app ColorNote gives you a colorful and fun way to ensure you don’t forget the eggs or to feed your mothers cat while she’s away. Now don’t confuse fun and colorful with unproductive because ColorNote is full of all the necessary tools to make sure things get done. On that note (pun intended) I believe a rundown is next on my list of things to do.