Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gadget Goodies 6

I thought it was time to revisit one of my “go to” apps.  Actually, I should probably call it a system.  Things have developed that far.  It’s about a month shy of two years since I originally wrote about Evernote.  I thought it was due for a revisit.  As you’ll see, I was right.

If you’ve never heard of Evernote, it’s likely you were just born or have successfully avoided the internet for a very long time.  Just in case that’s true and you’ve never heard of Evernote, it is a cross platform system for creating and/or storing information.  When I say cross platform, all the major phone OSes are supported, including Blackberry.  There’s software for Windows, Win8, and Mac OS X.  Plus add-ons for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers, as well as Dolphin browser for Android.  And a web version for anything not directly supported by software.  All of those are free.

My original review mentioned these features for Evernote:
  1. You can organize by multiple notebooks and stacks of notebooks on the computer.  The phone apps (at least for Blackberry) don't do this, but will now recognize all the notes you've created.
  2. There is a webclipper add-on for most computer browsers that allows copying web content directly into an Evernote note.
  3. Your Evernote account includes an Evernote email address.  That allows you to create an email to your Evernote account that goes directly into a note.  Have you ever been somewhere and wanted to keep notes for future use, possibly on a different device than you might later want to access the info from?  Email it to your Evernote account and the info will be available on all the devices you use Evernote on.
  4. The Biblereader phone app can send your personal Bible notes to your Evernote account.
  5. There's a function called myEN that connects your Twitter and Evernote accounts so that you can send selected tweets to your Evernote account.
Let’s take a look at the changes to those.
  1. All the phone apps now include notebooks and the other ways of organizing notes that are available for computers.
  2. The webclipper is still there.
  3. You can still email things to your Evernote account.
  4. Biblereader, which covers most of Olivetree’s software on most platforms, now uses its own sync system for notes, etc.  Bible+ for iOS apparently can still use Evernote to sync info.
  5. As far as I can tell, myEN still exists and works, but I’ve never tried it.
Beyond that, there are several things that help define Evernote’s ever expanding usefulness today.
There’s a growing number of associated apps, some from Evernote, some from third party developers to make Evernote even more useful.  Some of those are specific to one or two platforms, others cover a wider variety of devices.  For example, there’s Skitch, which allows you to mark notes on documents and images.  That’s available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.  There are a number of typed, handwritten, and voice note taking apps that sync with Evernote.  Android and Apple devices also have Pocket, an app for saving articles, videos and web pages for later reading and can be synced with your Evernote account to  be viewed anywhere, any time.

One of the things that really has me sold on Evernote is the almost omnipresent availability.  I can jot some notes down or dictate to my phone, as I’m riding,  access that very information on my home or office computer, go to a café for a relaxed working lunch while adding to that note via my tablet.  Total flexibility.

Let’s say you’re one of those who likes pen and paper to typed input.  Moleskine makes a line of journals that can be digitally copied to Evernote via your device and categorized by the included “smart stickers”.

There are two paid levels, as well.  I’ll just hit on some of the features.  You can explore those optional services further, on your own, if they’re of interest.

The premium service has higher upload levels for individual file sizes and monthly quotas.  Along with that there are enhanced search features and priority support.  My favorite is the ability to download entire notebooks for local use when there’s going to be no internet access.  Also, you can allow others to collaborate.  That’s $5 a month, discounted to $45 a year, if paid annually.

Beyond premium, there is an Evernote Business account.  Companies can control who in the firm has access, there’s an even higher level of support.  There can be corporate notebooks available to all, while keeping individual notebooks private.  The cost is $10 per person per month, with a number of different payment options.

I’m not big on cloud computing options.  But Evernote is one of my exceptions.  You can sync your notes to your device and the EULA clearly states that what you store on Evernote’s servers remains your property.  Both of those are huge features of the system!

What can you use Evernote for?  When you include the support of add-ons for other software and by apps that use Evernote’s system, the uses are limited to your imagination.  Prayer journal?  Writing notebook?  Copy articles you want to read later or use as reference?  Business meeting notes?  Shared diagrams?  You get the idea.  And there are lots of books, articles, and on;line resources to learn how to use Evernote.

We’ve spent a long time on Evernote.  It’s not the only app of its kind, but it’s usable on a wider variety of devices, has greater support and use from third party apps, has a longer history of development and improvement, and has more written about its uses than the competition.  If you have a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer, it’s worth trying.  If you have more than one of those and work on projects on several of them, Evernote is your friend.

We’re going to stop, here.  But, if you haven’t tried Evernote or haven’t given it a full workout, we’re going to suggest you put it through its paces.  It’s free, there’s no obligation to stick with it if you don’t like it.  But I’d be surprised if it doesn’t end up getting used daily.

More tech gems, next time.

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