Apple’s Notes app got me thinking: why is it Apple’s app insists on significant limitations? Evernote has tags, notebooks, and saved searches. Notes only has manual search. Because it seemed so ridiculously stifling and for no clear reason, I thought maybe—just maybe—Apple genuinely thinks this is a great way to manage all of your notes; in one lump sum with very little to help sift through them. Could it be possible that we nerds are just pretentious?
So, I challenged myself: for the next 30 days I would only use Evernote like it were Apple’s Notes app, and see just how ‘genius’ or ‘impossible’ it is to manage all notes without control and organization—full on search mode only.
What I’ve found so far is an appreciation for the simplicity in Apple’s method. It’s nice to know I don’t have to think about note-booking, tediously organizing them, and finding simple yet powerful tags that relate to each note. Could it be that less is simple more productive?
Of course, Evernote, even when used like Apple’s Notes, is more powerful than Notes. Notes is only getting image support this summer with the release of Mac OS Mountain Lion (presumably, Apple will support the photos on the iOS devices at the same time). In my self-made challenge, I’m keeping the images I already have in Evernote. I cannot afford to lose them—that’s why I saved them to Evernote. I want those images there for records. For instance, Evernote is a great way to store away receipts and business cards you collect. Presumably, when Apple offers images as a feature in Notes, it would be possible to stash away the same collections in Notes come this summer with the release of Mountain Lion.
But Evernote goes one step further: you can search text within Evernote. This is significant so I will say it again: Evernote smartly searches for text in your images. No, this is not a ‘pro’ Evernote users feature. I thought it was till I searched for some notes and came up with results based on text recognized in some of my receipts and business cards I’ve collected. If you want to search text in your images in Evernote, all you gotta do is add the image to a note and wait for Evernote’s servers on the others side of the cloud to process the image looking for recognizable text.
Notes for Apple’s app doesn’t even let you reorder the notes manually. The order of notes is manipulated by date last updated. This means the most recent notes you have edited will show at the top of your list. In my case, the list is over 130 notes long. I manage to easily change my settings in Evernote to imitate Apple’s date-based order. Personally, I prefer to keep them in order of name, but I see the benefits of both.
But there is something I had not considered before using Evernote in this challenge. Evernote lives and breaths lots of meta data to append to each note. Since Apple’s Notes skip the title, notebook, and tag fields altogether, it is easier in Notes to concentrate on what you want to write in the note and less about the categorization each note warrants. This is bad for organizational purposes, yes, but it’s great for real note creation. After all, isn’t the note got something to record? I’d rather get that info down than categorize the note before I even know what is to be written. The point of a note is to write something relevant down—not organize that note to the Nth degree.
Because each new note in Evernote begins with a name for that note, then if you tab through the note’s detail fields you’re taken to the notebook field and tag field, it encourages you to sort this organizational stuff out before you write your note. What if you change your mind half way through creating the note? In the iOS Evernote it is cumbersome to change those details. It requires more taps to reach the title, tag, and notebook fields. On Mac OS, it’s easy to edit the meta data, but it still distracts you from the point of your note: to note something.
Meta data fields aside, Apple’s Notes is still overpowered by Evernote. Using these apps with essentially the same organization method of ‘search only,’ Evernote reads the images in addition to text. That’s a great feature! And I have a feeling that the first time Apple adds the images feature to Notes they are not going to support text recognition within images.
On the other hand, Evernote takes more time to start note creation. Apple’s app is more often quick to start, and quick to create new content. Syncing in Evernote at times can be a chore.