Saturday, May 15, 2010

Evernote Hits all the App Bases

Evernote is a great app and a great example of the evolution of apps. Check out their time log here. It started back in 2006, and, in 2008 became a web service (remember web services?). Then in 2008, a little blip appeared on the horizon: iPhone. Today, Evernote runs as always in The Cloud as well as on other devices, with total and immediate synchronization.
What I find particularly compelling about Evernote (other than the fact that it became essential to me in about half a day) is that it is so small. One of the things I talk about in Get Rich with Apps! is the fact that apps live in a rich environment that provides great functionality so that the app needs to do only what it uniquely can provide. And that's what Evernote does so well.
In the past, we had these monstrous accumulations of features in our applications. Today, most of those features (security via SSL in the pro edition, for example, as well as databases, standard user interfaces) are just part of the environment in which an app lives.
Evernote really has only three concepts:
  1. You can create notes (text, video, or image). If you need to type something in, standard editing tools are right there along with cut-and-paste.
  2. Notes can go into folders. It took me a little fiddling to get a structure I was comfortable with. I use To Do, Done, and Personal which seems to cover most things in my life.
  3. Tags identify notes so that, for example, my To Do notes are tagged with projects.
That's all Evernote implements on its own. The synchronization works behind the scenes with standards, and the export is XML. It's a simple app that fits into the modern infrastructure.
And it's free. There's a pro edition for $5/month or $45 a year that drops the small ad in the lower left of the window and allows SSL transfers as well as higher cloud storage limits.
And, as I point out in the book, using all of these common interfaces, standards, and functionalities lets the app focus on what it does. There are some usability tips, but no manual. There's no need for one.

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