Since Google launched Keep yesterday, the question on everyone’s mind seems to be how does it measure up to Evernote. Well, don’t think the newcomer is going to suddenly oust Evernote as the best service for interweb jotting. It’s just way too barebones.
Google Keep is lightweight fast — almost to a fault. By Google’s own description, it’s meant to be a substitute for your sticky notes. It’s supposed to be an unfettered and simple way for you to get momentary ideas from your brain into a single location. Maybe it’s just because Google Keep is new, but it’s missing a lot of very basic features that make Evernote such a joy.
1. Keep doesn’t play nicely with others
Google Keep is designed for your eyes only, whereas Evernote has lots of social sharing options. Google Keep lets you scribble down your idea and hold on to it, but if you want to share that idea, link, image or whatever, you have to copy and paste it on your computer. Want to share it with someone else? Too bad.
The Android app allows you to share your notes, but, sadly, it’s not as clean as sharing on Evernote. Evernote generates a public link that can be shared so you know the experience is the same for everyone. The note-sharing on Keep’s Android app just dumps whatever was in your note into an email or a tweet or a Facebook post. That’s technically sharing, but it would be nice if you could share Keep notes with a link the way you share a public Google Document.
2. Keep is terrible for storing links
Once you get the Evernote browser extension set up, taking notes on what you’re reading is a piece of cake. Highlight the text, click copy and Evernote automatically creates a note with a link from the text you highlighted.
This feature isn’t unique to Evernote — Everything from Instapaper to Pinterest will grab content and store it for you. That makes its absence in Keep even more noticeable. Instead of clicking a quick save link and moving on, I’ve got to highlight a link in my browser and copy it over to Google Keep. Then I have to go back and grab the text and copy that over too. What a pain.
Interestingly, this is easier using the Android app than it is on your computer. By using the “…/share” action that’s baked into basically all Android applications you can send a link with a headline and a screenshot to Google Keep. Why there’s no way to do this from your computer using a browser extension or a clever bookmark bar link is absurd.
3. Keep won’t import images from the web
Let’s say I found a good diagram of how to organise guitar pedals. (This actually happened to me yesterday.) The only way to get it into Google Keep is to download it to my computer and then upload it. Why can’t I just drop in the image URL and let the Google Keep backend import it, as is possible for millions of websites across the web.
4. Keep doesn’t have rich text
Google Keep allows you to change colour labelling for your notes, which adds some life to the service, especially in the Android app where the whole note gets a coloured background like a Post-It. But that’s where the formatting in Google Keep ends.
Granted, as an extension of Drive, you could always open a Google document and format it if that’s what you feel like doing. But wouldn’t it be nice if some of the more robust editing features from Drive were available in your notes location? Yes.
5. Keep doesn’t help you organise your thoughts
Evernote lets you organise your notes into different notebooks, whereas Google Keep is just a huge torrent of your ideas organised by date. This is a biggie. Let’s pretend you’re hoping to keep track of a bunch of research for a news story, school essay or work project. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could organise all of those notes into a single location? Yeah, well, you can’t in Keep.
6. Keep doesn’t have a way to work offline
Both Evernote and Keep’s daddy, Drive, have desktop clients that you can use to jot things down from your computer when you’re offline or simply not using a web browser. Keep is stuck on the internet.
Google Keep is wonderful at what it does, but it doesn’t do much. Keep and Evernote are different animals that are good for different things. It’s possible that Google Keep isn’t meant to be anything more than the simplest of notepads. But most people will find this notepad limiting. In an effort to make Keep lightweight and simple, Google left out a lot of glaringly obvious features that make Keep just feel unfinished. Hopefully, it will get some of the plumbing from other Google products that’ll make it more useful down the line.