Evernote: My Favourite App

by Ben Smith on 29th June 2009

If you haven’t heard of Evernote, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the last year or so…

What started out as a ‘just’ note-taking application grew in June 2008 into a cloud-syncing application with Windows, Mac and Web interfaces, enhanced by ‘clipping’ tools on all three platforms and text-recognition of any any images in notes.  It’s gained a huge following, announcing over a million users a few weeks ago (and anticipating over 2 million before the end of 2009) and I’m one of that million… I’ve even paid-up US$45 recently for a year’s premium membership (none of your PR glad-handing freebies for me thank-you!)

Evernote: OCR

All the images in a note can be searched for text including handwriting

Evernote doesn’t refer to itself as a note-taking app any more, although it does that well, calling itself ‘your external brain‘ instead… and this isn’t as weird as it sounds. Beyond notes, it is now a great place to store documents, pictures, bookmarks, lists or any of the stuff that would normally clog-up a desktop or sit in unsent e-mails.  Even better, their range of mobile applications allow thoughts and notes to quickly be added throughout the day, allowing text,voice and images to be captured easily.  I’m by no means a power-user, but all my SpinVox-transcribed voicemail is forwarded into my Evernote account where it can be searched and annotated.  I also snap pictures of business cards with my phone so I can later search for people or company names, scan most of my important documents and draft blog posts alongside useful links (including this post).

Evernote Web: Business Cards

Searching through business cards in my Evernote account

And it’s certainly the mobile applications that have made the difference… Although the original Windows Mobile app saw limited uptake, the first iPhone client gained significant popularity reaching ten times the number of Windows Mobile-based users within just a few days of launch growing to half a million recently, CEO Phil Libin told me recently.  Phil was on European tour timed to coincide with the release of their Blackberry client, swiftly followed by a Palm Pre client (to the frustration of some users who expected Symbian or Android might be next on the list, although they are promised).

Evernote Mobile Platforms

Evernote - available on several popular mobile platforms... and Windows Mobile.

I asked him why the firm was investing in native clients for all these platforms when a mobile web site was also available?  It was, he said, just a case of making note capture ‘low friction’ – native clients could make the process ‘one click’ and discovery through the various application stores was a great source of new users.  More than 50% of users went on to use two platforms and around 20% used three or more, an impressively high transfer rate of mobile users to full-clients.

Evernote: Geo-tagging

Images with geo-tagging (from handsets that support it) provide a link to Google Maps

The pace of development certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing either – notebook sharing was added this week with editing collaboration for premium users.  In the works, we’re told, an audio-themed client providing a dial-in number for the recording of audio notes, video notes, enhanced text recognition (including inside PDFs), calendar integration (providing an iCal calendar feed of notes alongside the current RSS), version-control of notes, ‘enterprise’ features and wider 3rd-party integration though the current 400-strong independent developers signed-up to use the service’s API.

Evernote: Notebook Sharing

The recently-added sharing feature

I’m a fan and I make no apology for recommending it whole-heartedly. Sorry to those who think I’m only here to slag things off.

Normal service will resume soon :-)

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