Google Launches Notes Service, Google Keep – Lookout Apple, Evernote?
Need to jot down quick notes to organize your information? That company which aims to organize your information, Google, has a new service designed to help: Google Keep.
For Android & The Web, For Now
Currently, it’s only available for Android 4.0 and higher or through the Web, the service offers to sync your notes across devices, plus take in written (typed) notes or transcribe them when you talk.
From Google’s blog post:
With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.
Here’s how it looks on my Nexus 7, after I experimented with making a few notes:
As you can see from the picture, you can do a variety of things with notes:
- Give them different colors
- Speak to have a note transcribed, which also contains a link to your spoken audio file
- Take a picture and build a note around that
- Create list
- Share notes
Surprisingly, you can’t use existing pictures in your camera roll to make notes, as best I can tell. You can only make notes around new pictures you take at the time of creating a note.
Here’s how the sharing option appears, where you pick from one of several registered services on your device:
After you select one, such as Google+ below, the native application comes up to turn your note into a post:
When you share, you aren’t sharing a link to the Google Keep “page” on the Web but rather, turning the entire note into a post. You can see how this worked for the above example by looking at my share here on Google+ or a similar share here on Twitter.
If your note is too big for Twitter, you’ll need to edit it. If you share an audio note, the transcription will appear but the actual audio file isn’t included. The same is true for photos. Any captions will be shared, but the actual picture won’t be (as best my limited testing shows).
Google Keep Across Devices & On The Web
If you have several devices, the Google Keep notes will sync across all of them (though this was spotty, at launch). In addition, they’ll also sync to a new Keep area on Google Drive, so you have Web access to them. Here’s how it looks for me:
You can see that notes I made on the Web, on my Nexus 7 and on my Galaxy Nexus all flow into one place. Disappointingly, my blue-colored note on my Nexus 7 only gets a little blue strip above the top of it. My list example doesn’t look like a list, either, until you click into it.
Also disappointing, there’s no “Keep” menu option when you’re in the main Google Drive area. I’m sure this will come, but it’s odd to be in Google Drive and then have to type a URL to reach a sub-area of Google Drive.
Rival To Apple, Others?
One thing the service does is immediately help bring Android up to the useful functionality that Apple offers with its own Notes service. With Apple, Notes work across iOS devices, as well as Macs and are available on the Web.
Android has lacked such a native feature, until now. It’s also been an issue for Android users who use the Mac. There’s no easy way to sync your notes from a Mac into your Android device, not using the native feature, as I wrote about last year.
There are many third-party services that do this, of course. In fact, this potentially puts Google in competition with some of these, like Evernote. But, I see Google Keep as much more bringing Google into stronger competition with Apple, especially if it launches an iOS version (and if Apple allows such a version).
Consider that as popular as Evernote is, it’s still only currently ranked 10th for free productivity apps with Apple and doesn’t crack the top 100 list for free apps overall. Indeed, no note taking app that I can see is there. I suspect this is because most people simply use the native notes app in iOS devices. That’s an opportunity for Google, to build the same habit on its own Android devices and expand.
Of course, one lurking question in my mind is how much Google will stick with this service. It shuttered a similar Google Notebook service in 2009. That remained supported through mid-2012, but it wasn’t maintained. Less than a year later after the final closure (and migration into Google Docs)… now everything is fine for Google to decide to do a notes service again?
Google explains the service more in a new promotional video: