After a year and a half romp with Evernote, I am kicking it to the curb. You may remember last year when I broke away from the Apple ecosystem and moved from an iPhone to an Android device. That’s when I added Evernote to the mix as it was one of the most notable cross-platform note-taking apps out there.
I came to realize that Evernote is way more than a note-taking app but my own usage is far from that of a poweruser.I hate the fact that Evernote does so much because I feel like they are half-assing a lot of different things instead of focusing on and perfecting just a few.
Evernote is not the Swiss Army Knife that it is for many of my peers. I need an app to jot things down, not an all encompassing hoarding app.
Where Evernote fell short for me and really got me thinking about switching was the constant nagging to upgrade. I can deal with being prompted to go premium after installing the app. I can even deal with it after minor updates. But every few days? That shit got under my skin and got me thinking about the alternatives.
My main concern running OS X, iOS and Android is that I want to have access to my notes on all of my systems, that’s what drew me to Evernote to begin with. Fortunately, there are many other cross-platform note-taking apps out there.
Interestingly enough, I did settle back on Notes.app even though it is not a cross-platform solution. More on that though, let’s talk about my pain points with Evernote, and my encounters with the alternatives I tried.
The incessant upsell attempts weren’t the only issue I had with Evernote. One of my main issues was how janky the synchronization was. Fortunately, it didn’t come up that often where I would add a note on one system and immediately need it on another system. Evernote’s sync defaults to every 15 minutes and can be reduced to every 5 minutes. In those dire situations, I had to manually sync both systems to get the note to show up.
The app itself, on every platform I tried it on, had a tendency of being sluggish and crash pretty regularly on me. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I found navigating between notes and notebooks and all of that to seem very cumbersome.
Attempting to give Evernote the benefit of the doubt and try using it for more than just notes, I attempted to use it as a replacement for Pocket and tried to use the Evernote Web Clipper. In comparison to Pocket, it took orders of magnitude longer to save the page and the pages that were saved looked really terrible. No reason for me to drop Pocket from my arsenal.
Still hell-bent on finding a cross-platform solution, I went ahead and gave Simplenote a shot. Right out of the gate, it looked brilliant and was more in line with how I expect a note-taking app look and feel. Synchronization between instances of the app on different devices was damn near instantaneous.
Even though Simplenote was an amazing app, I still wasn’t convinced. It looked a ton like a prettier version of Notes.app, functioned very similarly and didn’t provide any additional functionality that I needed or saw myself using in the future.
Simplenote’s pluses are being cross-platform, exceptional synchonization, tagging and collaborative features. The latter two I didn’t need.
I figured that since I have an Android phone, I could embrace Google’s note-taking offering. Nothing really wrong with Keep aside from being yet another opportunity for Google to profile me.
I’ve really enjoyed how Keep works on my phone, specifically with checkbox lists. Of everything I’ve tried, it’s by far the best app for my grocery lists.
Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time putting any more eggs into the Google basket. Still a bit stung by the discontinuation of Google Reader, I suppose.
Clean and simple. Solid synchronization. Oh and I don’t need an additional account as it’s tied to my existing iCloud. Aside from my Android phone, the rest of my devices are from Apple so it makes sense.
The latest Notes.app offerings from Apple in iOS 9 and El Capitan have shown that the app definitely hasn’t been forgotten. Notes can now have all sorts of attachments as well as drawings and checkbox lists. Slowly starting to creep into Evernote’s functionality it seems.
For the moment I am using a combination of Notes.app on OS X and my iPad and Google Keep on my phone until I switch back to an iPhone. What I came to realize in all of this, is that I don’t necessarily need to have all of my devices fully in sync. In fact, most notes I enter on my phone end up being used exclusively on my phone, and vice versa.
Will I stick with Notes.app? Probably so. Simplenote’s the most compelling alternative right now, but since I don’t have any need for collaboration or tagging, there’s no reason to switch.
What’s your favorite note-taking app? Comment below!