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On Monday, we alerted you to the possible upcoming launch of Google Keep, a note-taking addition to Google Drive that appeared to be an Evernote competitor. If so, it was jumping in to a crowded field — Evernote dominates and OneNote has a healthy share due to its inclusion with Microsoft Office. (We liked Evernote better.)
As predicted, Google went through with the launch on Android and on the web. New geekery gets us so excited that we’ve already tested it.
Should the legal masses flock from Evernote? Lets take a look.
The Android App
Keep comes in two flavors for now, Android and web-based.
The Android app is extremely quick and responsive, with no lag issues -- truly impressive for an initial release.
As for the note-taking itself, it slaughters OneNote's Android app. Then again, OneNote's mobile app is limited to text, lists, and snapshots, all on a blank white page. When compared to Evernote, however, it's about even, feature-wise.
We also really like the interface here, even more so than Evernote. Just looking at the color-coded digital Post-it notes makes us happy for some odd reason.
Typing notes and lists is a breeze. Captioning a snapshot is too. The really fun feature is voice-input notes. Hit the mic icon, drop sick rhymes, and Google will translate it into text. We've dealt with their transcription before using Google Now's instant search on our Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, and it's pretty dang accurate in most instances. Even if it comes out with nonsense, you can always edit the text or listen to the recording.
You can also share the notes via email, images are turned into attachments, lists are turned into bulleted text, etc. We'd like to see a way to have collaborative Keep notes (like a To Do list for workplace teams) but this is an initial release.
One final neat feature. If you're using Chrome for Android, you can share a webpage snapshot into a Keep note. This would be handy for snippets of research or for saving personal things, like recipes.
Would we switch from Evernote? Not yet, but not because of the mobile app. The reason for hesitation is the web-based version.
The Browser Abomination
Quite frankly, it's awful. First of all, you can't find it. There's no icon in Google Drive. You have to type in the URL to use it. When you do arrive, it's not as pretty, doesn't operate as fast, or have the same features.
Case in point: the audio transcription and notes. You can't take a voice memo from your PC, nor does playback exist. You can download the audio note, but it won't play on Windows Media Player (bundled on most office PCs).
We'll chalk it up to a beta product released before it was ready and advise that you keep an eye out. The mobile app is brilliant. If the browser version gets 90 percent there, this really could rival Evernote.