Note-taking apps help organize your life

Mobile devices, like tablets and phones, have transformed the way interact with our daily lives.

While games and multimedia apps for these devices are fun, the most valuable apps are often those that make our lives easier and help us more efficiently move from work to play.

Note taking apps are designed to help users organize their physical lives through a digital medium.  These apps are especially valuable on mobile devices, since they provide an always-available index of personal information to store to and read from.  Instead of storing information on sticky notes or legal pads, which are tied to physical locations, ideas, tasks and shopping lists can be saved digitally to the cloud, where they are accessible anywhere or on any device a user has web access.

This week, Google launched Keep, an app aiming to help users collate small notes, thoughts and pictures they run across throughout their day.  They aren’t the only option, though, as several other companies also maintain excellent apps and web services designed to organize small bits of data.

Here’s a look at note-taking apps and services that can help users digitally index their ideas and multimedia:

Evernote

The most popular note-taking app, Evernote allows users save and view notes, text snippets, images, voice recordings and more.  The service’s tagline is “Remember Everything” and its breadth of features allows it to basically do just that.

Evernote lets users tag notes by location and organize note sets into notebooks, providing extra collation functionality.  Data can also be shared with other users, for collaboration.

Evernote is available on almost every possible platform, including Windows, OSX, Android, iOS and Windows Phone. The free version of Evernote provides basic functionality, but the usage limits can be removed by subscribing to their premium service, which starts at $5 a month.

For a closer look at Evernote, view their introduction video at http://evernote.com/video/.

Google Keep

The newcomer to the note space, Google Keep offers light note and photo saving functionality.

Like most Google products, Keep has a simple, minimalist interface.  Users can enter notes, pictures, or lists, which are saved to the cloud through Google Drive.  Notes can also be saved to Keep from other Google products, like GMail or Chrome.  Keep definitely isn’t as full-featured as Evernote, but the “less is more” approach keeps the service light and easy to use.

Keep is currently available for free on Android devices via the Google Play Store (http://bit.ly/Ym3uts) or via a web browser at http://drive.google.com/keep.  The browser version of Keep does allow access to the service’s core functionality, but the experience is better through the mobile app.

For more inforrmation, view Google’s blog announcement of Keep, which can be viewed at http://bit.ly/13cIQn9.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote allows for the basic note and multimedia storing found in other apps, but integrates well with Microsoft Office, one of the most popular productivity platforms.

Originally, and still, a feature of Office, OneNote collects user notes, drawings, Office snippets and stores them in a central location.  The service is easy to use and can sync to a variety of cloud services, like SkyDrive and Dropbox.

OneNote’s collaboration features make it particularly well-suited for collaborative education tasks.  Users with school-issued Microsoft accounts might find this environment the most familiar, if they’re used to the various Microsoft cloud and desktop services.

OneNote is available as part of Microsoft Office (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/), or separately as either a standalone product or web application (http://bit.ly/Yp4wog).  OneNote apps are also available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, among others.

These aren’t the only note-taking services available (Catch, Springpad and Simplenote come to mind), so be sure to shop around if you’re in the market for an app to collect ideas.


Like note-taking and organizational styles themselves, app preferences are personal.  Since most are free to try, give a few a test run and find one that fits you.

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