Did you know that you can open Android, click the mic in the upper right corner, say “Note to self,” and – get this – save a note? Apparently Google didn’t, either. Which is why it launched Google Keep.
Launched on Wednesday night, Google Keep apparently was released to remind people that those errant scraps of digital data taking up space in other apps could be used more usefully – and more profitably – by Google itself. And why in Sergey Brin’s sweet name would you ever want to archive a photo in another app? That’s what Google+ is for!
It’s a bit difficult to understand why Google launched Keep, given that one of its more highly touted features, transcribing voice memos, has been around since forever. You don’t need to use Google’s speech-to-text services for everything, but most apps within Google’s Android contain the microphone icon, which is a handy way of entering input when your hands are (or should be) otherwise occupied.
But this is not the first time Google has tried out note-taking, of course. In 2009, the company announced that it would stop active development on Google Notebook By July 2012, the service shut down and all Notebook data was transferred to Google Docs.
Still, it’s not like Google is cracking a new market here. In fact, there are a number of apps already in the market supplying virtual Post-It notes to any who need them. We’ve provided a few in the next few pages. In general, most of these apps have been ported to several platforms, with a few optimized apps (like those for the iPad) that we’ve specifically noted.
Evernote is a note-taking and syncing service with apps for a variety of platforms, including iPhone. The iPhone version is shown here, in version 5. Basically, when it comes to staying organized, keeping track of ideas, and writing things down, Evernote Premium does the heavy lifting for you. Integrate it with one or two other apps, and you can’t do better.
Awesome Note (+Todo/Calendar) is among the best multi-purpose task management apps in the Apple App Store. It gives serious list makers and task masters utilitarian tools to help them keep track of ideas and chores, and graphical customizations at nearly every turn.
Available for Windows Phone, OneNote is Microsoft’s own version of Google Keep, and what Keep is really responding to (in addition to the other apps on this list). OneNote is terrific and integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem. If you’re a Windows Phone user, we doubt you’d ever want Keep.
The primary functions of Moleskine are creating new notes, typing, drawing or sketching, importing images, and assigning categories and labels to notes. The visual instructions thoroughly map out everything the app has to offer. It even provides a key that explains what all the icons represent. But there’s no search, which really is disappointing. All platforms are supported.
Note Taker HD for the iPad brings flexible, feature-rich note-taking to the iPad in the form of a $5 app. Packing a wide array of note-taking options, such as variable line thickness, color, typeface, point size, finger-drawing input, plus the ability to import PDFs and insert and crop photos, Note Taker HD is certainly one of the best note-taking apps.
Penultimate is fast, friendly, flexible, and a bargain, at just 99 cents. If you’ve ever doodled in a notebook, using the app should be second nature. When it comes time to share, you can email a sketch or an entire notebook without leaving the app, or pipe your pad through a projector for group collaboration.