14 days left in a 22-day challenge


The 22-day challenge was an inducement to write against a theme that had been collecting in my various and sundry notes apps for the past 8-10 months. So this will be the "notes" app review [partial, because there are new 'notes' and 'productivity' apps every day so there's not way this is comprehensive because you just can't use them all].

So I will stick to four today and give you the ins-and-outs, the pros-and-cons, why you even need more than one, and how to use them all differently to get the maximum benefit for referencing your plethora of notes, generated by the accessibility of the NOTES APP.

1. Evernote - you've all hear of it and many of you may use it. It's the ultimate notes keeping and organization app.
        • With smart search, endless tags for cross-referencing and Evernote's powerhouse at syncing capability, all of your quick notes, written on the fly, are kept up-to-date across devices. 
        • Evernote was also one of the first apps to use the four-key pad sign in which saved log-in time dramatically, and 
        • the auxiliary app FastEver is always available to you for quick notes that you need to jot down when inconvenient. 
        • The customization of tags, notebooks and presentation are reliable and functional.
        • The email your note function works well but the ability to send to a notebook with the right tags still seems glitchy (I've never gotten the notes to carry the tags that they say you can add in the subject).
        • The ONLY downsides: there is too much emphasis on the work chat sharing feature which isn't that impressive (like slack, which seems like a superior file sharing platform, no one in my industry will use it and to get people to set it up is not worth the service -- unless you require it as part of the job. But if you're freelance, trying to collaborate, it's just not that handy or relevant outside silicon valley.
        • The tags are too quick to 'save' and you end up with all these half-assed tags like edu or tod, and too many tags really doesn't seem to help the sorting as much as you would hope.
        • There are too many auxiliary apps that are quite frankly not that good. Skitch, I tried for a while but I just don't get it. The "scannable" app to scan is not as good as the Microsoft One Lens.
        • It doesn't feel like the app is updated that often, making its features seem cumbersome the more you use them and find out which ones don't work that well -- so you develop a work around (like adding the date and time and GPS in Fast Ever - that used to translate so I could keep a log of legal evidence that was occuring at the time; then it stopped working so I get notes with no links, no info, no time/date or location - just all the text jammed into the subject line (another thing FastEver could do better--tell you where to put your title so you don't have these long subject lines you have to adjust later).
  • 2. Simple Note
        • Just discovered this app and it's always readily available, NEVER crashes and syncs in real time -- it's amazing to see the notes available right away across devices.
        • But the reason for that seems to be its simple interface -- you don't want to post links here (you can but the best way to access links is other notes apps) and photos aren't an option. It's pure text, but I find it great for a back-up option to those cut and paste auto-fill annoyances that no security app seems to be able to access when you need it (Dashlane just crashed across all my devices for example, so all those passwords are inaccessible to me -- which means my quick notes in SimpleNote with key pass codes has become invaluable).

  • 3. One Note / Google Keep
        • One Note has its ups and downs. Requiring you to download ONE DRIVE as well kind of ticked me off at first but it's the drive storage for your notes. ONE DRIVE is very stable once you figure out how to deal with Microsoft's annoying log-in authentications and the fact that it never seems to remember you. The pages move easily and the notes can be moved by drop and drag as well.
        • The cons: very wonky sync, you never know what will be online and what will be off. The Polaris Drive is by far the best of its kind (Cloud and iCloud are just weird -- I don't understand what gets backed up v what gets ignored there) but One Drive is necessary to use ONE NOTE. I use it for a certain type of research notes and records that I don't want people to stumble across (because the log in is always so difficult, I've put more sensitive info there.
        • Google Keep is aesthetically the best. Your notes are organized in a mosaic fashion and you can easily swipe and re-arrange, so it resembles the layouts of the app PAPER 53, which I still have a love-hate relationship with, but more on that with the productivity and aesthetic apps.
        • Google Keep feels more like a thematic presentation notes app - where photos behind the 'card' of the note can suggest a theme or a design for the topic. It's not the app for writing freeform (SimpleNote), storing sensitive materials (the cards just pop up in mosaic fashion, not as notebooks you can filter easily) or loading up with all your thoughts in a day (evernote) including all forms of media.
  • 4. Wunderlist
        • I only got this app because it was pushed by Outlook and I was trying to automate how my email attachments could be collated and viewed more efficiently.
        • This app is a great list or to-do list tool. You can add subtasks (which you generally think of as you plan the primary task) and it's file attachment system is superior. They need to add more drives than just dropbox, though -- they need cloud drive, One Drive and others since the strength of this app is putting all your supporting documents in one place with your overall goal/over-arching objective broken down into sub-tasks with reminder deadlines. 
  • I am pretty sure there is one I am forgetting. I have iWriter too and it's fine, except the exit/saving function is hidden under the top menu bar so that's always more time-consuming that it should be. It's a decent program but I am not sure why you would upgrade and SimpleNote may replace it for me (as my memory 'almost full' light comes on the dashboard every day, I am looking for extraneous apps to poof up and destroy).

Evernote tops
SimpleNote close second
One Note - Google Keep - Wunderlist -- all great apps but for specific note-taking management and are best utilized in those specific area.
There's a new app via Dropbox for reminders and notes--and while some aspects of it are revolutionary (how you can move reminders by dragging not the endless back clicks and nerve-wracking, repeat copy/paste maneuvers -- I can't remember the name of it and I just started using it (dropbox is trying to develop integrated apps to support its main function as storage drive for your back ups) so I don't have an honest review of it yet.

This is not exactly how I envisioned these pieces to come about but when you have a 22 challenge for which you've only written 3 days of responses, on day 14, you decide to add that to your TO-DO list on each note app and see which one actually means you do it. 

It could be any of them with their reminders and algorithms of sorting words and prioritized sensibilities around action verbs that show up as awkward translations in the self-conscious code.

If you only need one, get two incase the other one crashes (like evernote has, like one-note has losing entire notebooks due to faulty sync.

I'd recommend Simple Note as it's the most stable, the simplest and as such, the most in line with keeping your notes updated and immediate for you, with tags that help you find all the notes related to some subject as you need them. So far, it's synced perfectly (it's the only one of all 4) across devices. Next best sync: Wunderlist.

Then evernote, then one note.

Let me know which you use if you read this -- and what you think is best feature and what would be the top 3 things you would change, absolutely, no wishy washy answers here, to streamline your favorite notes app.

Have a great day and don't waste your time because I already did for you!

Katherine Walker
content provider

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