Now this is a pitch I can relate to. I was talking to Phil Libin, the new CEO of Evernote, and he was selling me on the new Web-based version of the note-taking app his company makes. Libin was giving me the big picture: Evernote is "an extension of memory." It's an "external brain." But, he says, his company realizes that most people don't want to tag, categorize, annotate, or otherwise file their notes. They just want to jam information into a bin and be able to find it later. "I'm happy with the lazy slob market," he said.
The previous version of Evernote (which I used for about two years, before switching to OneNote), was very good at recording a "river of notes." Whatever you typed into the Evernote desktop app you could then easily find again. There was also a Web service, but using it cost extra.
The new Evernote, version 3, is a free suite of tools that let you access one synchronized database of notes from a desktop (PC or Mac), the Evernote Web site, directly off a USB stick, or from a mobile device. You can also dump data into it from e-mail. In other words, there are now more ways to dump your notes into the system, and more places from which you can get them out. (The product can't yet use RSS feeds as input, but this may be added.)
The app is still a great tool for recording text notes, either typed or written (on a tablet PC). Plus, you can clip text and graphics from Web sites or e-mails (there's a clipper tool that makes it easy). Finding what you've entered later is also easy, thanks to search that works as you type and good ways to narrow down your results by date (and eventually location) or by tag. That is, if you bother to use tags; if you don't, you still have the service's strong search tools.
What's really cool, though, is Evernote's affinity for visual notes. The mobile app lets you snap camera phone pictures and send them directly to Evernote. Or you can drag pictures from your computer into the desktop app. On a Mac, there's a fast way to grab snaps from your Webcam. Everything then gets synched up to the server, which then does text extraction on your photos, dumping the keywords into your search index so you can find things later. (Pro tip: When you take pictures of people you want to remember at a conference, be sure to get their name badges in the shot. Instant people find.)
I took some camera phone shots of whiteboards and it did a surprisingly good job of indexing the text. (See also: Scanr [review] and Qipit [review].)
The Mac client of Evernote is prettier than the PC client, but according to Libin it doesn't have the same categorizing features of the Windows client. But it has that slick tool for grabbing a picture from your Mac's built-in camera. It's a handy way to record receipts, business cards, and the like.
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