SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Google announced it would take on popular note-taking app Evernote with one of its own variety, Google Keep last week. The digital memo app allows users to jot down notes, make lists, record voice reminders and save photos to the app. The main advantage to this is once uploaded, they are stored on Google Drive and synced between all Google linked devices so you can access them anywhere.
Using a Sony Xperia Z smartphone running Android Jelly Bean, we took Google Keep for a spin, just for a day, to see how easily first-time users can adapt to its functions, navigate around the app, and how the app feels when using for a longer period of time than just a few minutes.
Google Keep aims to abolish the need for hundreds of sticky notes littered around your desk, monitor and forehead, prompting you of the things you need to remind yourself to do, but usually forget just moments after thinking them.
Visually, Keep reflects this notion. Every time you add a note, you can choose which colour you'd like it to be from a paint palette icon, each of which is reminiscent of a traditional office sticky note: pastel yellow, pink, orange, green and blue. This means you can sort each colour according to your own theme depending on the memo, orange for work notes, green for shopping lists, for example.
These are added to a dashboard in blocks underneath the main navigation window, and take up space depending on the amount of content written inside them, or whether they have an image attached or not. Short notes display text larger, and vice versa.
Ease of use
In initial tests, we found Google Keep was extremely easy to just fall into and use. We had no need to read any instructions or tutorials before using all features, which are clearly presented. Loading it up for the first time, we found Keep was very intuitive. There are five main controls at the top of the app, these being: add quick note, add note, list item, add voice note and take photograph.
How each of these functions operates is self-explanatory, with 'list item' allowing you to produce a to-do style list with tick boxes for tasks, which can be crossed off as and when you've completed them. Unsuprisingly, 'voice notes' allow you to record your reminder via the magic of your own voice.
Simplicity is really at the forefront of the Keep's design and this stayed true through using the app for a full 24 hours. We didn't encounter any unusable aspects while using it, though the voice memo function didn't seem as fun to use as first thought. Seems hearing yourself remind you of something isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nevertheless, writing notes instead will suffice, and you'll probably find yourself not taking much notice of the voice record function.
If preferred, users can also choose to put Keep in 'single column view'. Although this mode shows more information within your notes, it doesn't look as nice and takes longer to scroll up. It's perhaps best used for people that like to make more lengthy reminders.
The Keep app can also function in landscape mode, if this is favoured by users.