Google this week announced a new Android app and Web-based service called Google Keep. The idea behind Keep is an interesting one—it provides a single place for storing and organizing disparate thoughts, notes, lists, photos and such, and it’s synced between the Web and your Android devices. But it’s certainly not a new idea. I also wonder if Google Keep will be around in a few years.
Google Keep joins Evernote, Springpad, Catch and other apps in the digital scrapbooking/organizational category. Google says Keep is "a central place to save what’s on your mind," and it integrates with Google Drive, though apparently not Google apps, such as Google Docs. I gave Keep a quick try, and it works as advertised. But I have a few concerns.
1) As of this moment, there's no iOS version of Keep. You can bookmark drive.google.com/keep/ and use Google Keep in an iOS browser, but I’d rather have an app.
2) In its present incarnation, Google Keep isn’t nearly as full featured as Evernote, Catch or my personal favorite organizer, Springpad. Plus, those apps are available on iOS and Android, as well as on computers.
3) Google Keep requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher, so some older devices that haven’t been upgraded are out of luck. The lock screen widget requires Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean).
4) This isn’t Google’s first go at a digital-scrapbooking product; Google Notebook came before Keep. Launched in 2006, Notebook was an indispensable tool when I was gathering research for a book in 2008-2009. But Google halted development of Notebook in 2009 and shut it down in 2012.
Google killed off a number of its products during the past few years, most recently Google Reader. The Guardian writer Charles Arthur estimates Google services that were ultimately shelved lasted an average of nearly four years. But with its currently limited functionality and lack of native iOS support, I haven't even used Google Keep for four hours.
(Screen shot by Google.)