Here’s what I need in a notes app.
- Text Notes
- Snapshots (Photos of labels, serial numbers, parts, etc.)
- Basic tagging or category organization
- Mobile App
- Desktop or Browser App
- Cloud sync
Evernote definitely ticks all of the boxes and a lot more, but I don’t need fonts, highlighters. I don’t need to organize notes with categories AND tags and I don’t need to share notes or collaborate on them. Evernote’s desktop client feels more like a nicely de-bloated version of Microsoft Word.
Google Keep has the features I need and that’s about it! I like elegant simple applications and Google’s managed to do it with Keep. Sure, there’s room for improvement but it’s pretty good as it is.
My only real concern is that Google has dropped other services that I enjoyed, most notably their recent decision to scrap Google Reader. If they do eventually drop Keep, it should be easy to find another service, even if it means going back to Evernote and the bloat that comes with it.
Having a Smart Phone is great, right? But aside from telephone calls and texting, does it really make your average day any easier? When you’re done checking Facebook and playing Words with Friends, try out some apps that may actually make your life a bit easier.
Notes & Lists
For general note taking, I’ve found EverNote to be very useful. With EverNote, you can create plain text notes, checklists, snapshot notes with your camera and even record quick voice notes. Everything is synced to EverNote’s servers so you can access them from any mobile device, Windows PC, Mac or anything with a web browser. The free service is limited by the amount of monthly synchronization that you do. I’ve used it fairly regularly for several years on a free account and I’ve never come close to the limit. Microsoft OneNote is another app with very similar features.
Out of Milk focuses on lists. It was specifically designed for making shopping lists. Create a list before you go to the store by entering what you need, the app will even scan barcodes on your food items using the phone’s camera. Success with scanning can be hit or miss, but it’s still a cool feature. You can share lists among family members and update them on any device or from the web site so that everyone is working off of the same shopping list.
Documents & Files
Google Drive, the recently renamed Google Docs, is a full-fledged Office Suite.. It can create, edit and store documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Granted, working on a complex spreadsheet with a 4″ touch screen isn’t the best arrangement, but it’ll do in a pinch. The files are all stored on Google servers so they are available from any device. Drive can also be used to store almost any file even if you can’t edit it with the app. The service is free but is limited to 5GB of storage. More storage is available for a fee.
If you simply want to synchronize files and folders between all of your mobile devices and computers, check out DropBox. You’ll get a limited amount of space for free and more when you get friends to sign up. You can, of course, pay for more storage.
Shopping & Finance
Shopping is the main focus of Amazon‘s mobile app. But you can also scan any product’s barcode to perform a search against
Amazon’s online store. I feel a little guilty standing in a store, scanning products and buying them from Amazon, but I get over it pretty quickly
PayPal is widely accepted as the standard for online payments. By using the mobile app, you can easily pay someone back for lunch when you’re out of cash.
Almost every bank has a mobile app these days, use yours to check balances and transfer funds between accounts. Mint is a free mobile and web-based app from Intuit that allows you to monitor all of your accounts in one place. Mint can access most banks, investment companies and credit card companies. Use it to set budgets and remind you when you’re getting close to going over budget.
Manage your stack of rewards cards with KeyRing. Use the built-in scanner to enter all of your rewards cards. I’ve had very limited success with stores being able to scan the barcode from my phone, but they can always enter the number manually.
I hope that I’ve helped you make better use of the investment that you’ve made in your Smart Phone. Let me know what apps make your life easier and I’ll check them out!