This week, Google quietly launched Keep, a simple, note-taking mobile app. It's not as full-featured or multiplatform as Evernote, the leader in the revived personal organizer or "external brain" category, and currently only works on Android and Google Drive. Google will likely make Keep available on Apple's iOS, as it has with its other apps, and add features, such as the ability to attach files and embed video. Nonetheless, the press and other observers are questioning the company's commitment to its apps after the recent notice that Google Reader would cease to exist.
The reality is that Google has discovered that note-taking, unlike an RSS reader, is as core as Docs, Maps or Calendar to its integrated suite of apps, especially in the context of mobile usage and Google Glass. Keep's simplicity, sharing and voice transcription-to-text capabilities will come in handy when the primary interface is voice, as with Google Glass, and the content is memos and checklists rather than documents or e-mail.
Imagine having Keep tuned for Google Glass, with voice commands and integrated with the Internet of things. You are standing by your smart refrigerator and it sends you a Keep checklist with what groceries you need to restock. You add or subtract from the list via the Google Glass interface and then share it with your grocery store, which will have the items sent to your door. Keep could also serve as a repository for random-access daily thoughts. With a collection of Keep notes or lists for various parts of your life -- such investments, movies and to dos -- you go through the day adding and deleting items as they come up while you are walking, hands free, down the street.
Of course, some users will prefer Evernote or another application for their Google Glass, smartphone or tablet experience. Google showed Evernote's Skitch app working with Glass at SXSW Interactive this month. But with Keep, Google has officially acknowledged that it plans to compete and will make every effort to keep users' data flowing through its servers.