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Hands on with Google Keep: Can it slay Evernote?

Ian Paul | March 22, 2013
Evernote who? Google is taking on the perennial digital note-taking favorite with Google Keep, a service that lets you store quick notes, checklists, Web links, and photos for things you need to remember or keep track of.

Evernote who? Google is taking on the perennial digital note-taking favorite with Google Keep, a service that lets you store quick notes, checklists, Web links, and photos for things you need to remember or keep track of.

Rumors of Keep first surfaced on Sunday after the service briefly went live for some users, but it wasn't until Wednesday that Google officially introduced its Evernote challenger. Keep is currently available as an Android app for Android 4.0 (and up) users, and in your browser at drive.google.com/keep.

Even though Google is offering a way to get at your notes from your PC, don't be fooled into thinking this app was designed for both the desktop and mobile devices. The current version of Keep is all about creating notes on your Android device and then accessing them from anywhere. You can certainly create new notes using Keep on the desktop, but the Web version for PCs comes with limitations the mobile version doesn't have. That's not to say Keep works fantastically well on Android, but the mobile app is far more developed than the current Web version.

Into the Keep

Google is billing Keep as a digital replacement for the swarm of sticky notes strewn 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-dandy 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 and a rumored Play store revamp. 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.

 

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