Earlier this week, Google officially launched Keep, a new Android-based note taking app. Keep addresses a substantial absence within the operating system – the lack of a native notepad or similar notes application. The interface is very simple and is designed to make it easy to make lists, snatch pictures, record thoughts (with voice) or type notes.
Reviews are mixed, with some questioning whether or not it is worth getting attached to another Google app considering the recent demise of Google Reader. For attorneys on the go, Keep has both pros and cons. It may work as a an easy, quick way to jot down ideas, but it does not appear to be ready to replace more heavyweight apps like Evernote.
Here are some of the things Keep is good (and not so good) at.
Ease of use. Google Keep is very, very simple. By default, the app displays a single column list of entries with a text entry box at the top in which you can enter new notes. The display is reminiscent of Microsoft’s color-block design, and you can color-code your notes for better visual separation. You can save both pictures and text, and you can record notes. Clicking on a note allows you to edit it and swiping it to the side will archive it. Its simplicity is one of Keep’s most helpful features. Not everyone is interested in complex functionality, and Keep is perfect for those who simply need to keep track of items that are of immediate or pressing interest.
Sync with your PC via Google Drive. When you log anything with your phone, be it a note, list or picture, it will be available online. This is handy if you think of something on the fly that will later need to be fleshed out and edited in a document. Quick ideas, lists or agendas can be started and then elaborated upon from a laptop, tablet or desktop machine.
Voice note taking. The voice recognition capabilities of Keep are somewhat impressive. If you are not in the position to type, you can speak a note into your phone and it will be transcribed instantly and added to your list.
Difficulty organizing. Keep organizes things in reverse chronological order, and that is it. You can search by word or phrase, but not by color, which makes the color-coding just a visual perk for now. You cannot group items or change their order in the list. In this respect, Keep really is like an online version of a post it note – simple, and not made for permanent storage.
Limited sharing. Keep does not currently support Google+ integration, which limits sharing options to Drive or email. In contrast, Evernote allows you to share a note via a public url or to organize a shared notebook that can be seen by selected colleagues, even if they are not running the app. The ability to share through tapping, from app to app or within a network like Google+ would add some helpful functionality for those working in groups. However, Keep is focused on simplicity, so it is unclear whether developers will have an interest in adding anything beyond Google+ integration (if they are working on that at all).
Android Only. Unless you want to use the online version, Keep is limited to people who have a device running Android 4.0 or higher. It is unlikely that Google will put effort into creating an iOS compatible version.
Will Keep last? That probably depends on the degree to which Google connects the app with their core product. There is potential for Keep to be work in conjunction with Google Now, which would give the search engine even more information about you (and thus the ability to serve even more target ads). There is also the potential to use Keep with Maps or Calendar. For example, you could make a note of an appointment that would automatically be synched with your Calendar. Then you could have directions sent to you through Google maps. If Google decides Keep is helpful within the scheme of its overall business model, it could be here to stay.