Evernote Review: Organizing Your Life on an iPhone

by Reads (31,211)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 10
      • Performance
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 8.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Extends your organizational reach to a smartphone
    • Synchronizes to your desktop Evernote
    • GPS-tags your notes and photos
  • Cons

    • Sluggish on old iPhones
    • Crashes on old iPhones
    • You could turn into an organizing fanatic; many have!

Overview

Among untold numbers of users, Evernote has a following so devoted that it’s practically a religious movement. As you might (or might not) already know, Evernote is a clipping-and-organizing tool for iPhones and other mobile devices, along with Microsoft Windows, Apple’s MacOS, and various Web browsers. Is the app worthwhile for anyone other than the true organizing enthusiast, though? How well does the current iOS version work for iPhone users who haven’t yet upgraded to a 4/4S phone? We’ll delve into the answers to these questions in this review.

On Windows PCs, Evernote pops up on command and copies selected portions of your screen, or Web pages if the browser plug-in is installed. You can then tag these copied snippets with keywords, organize them into notebooks, and find them again in a variety of ways.

Evernote’s free client apps for Apple‘s iOS, Android OS, BlackBerry, and other mobile gadgets operate in much the same way. On all platforms, items you’ve clipped can be synched to Evernote’s cloud service, so you don’t need to lose any of the information that you’ve organized. The cloud service is available in two flavors. With the free ad-supported version, you can download 60MB of date per month. The premium version — which I haven’t tried yet — boosts downloads to 1GB per month while speeding image recognition, dropping the ads, and adding the ability to search within PDFs. Premium pricing is $5/month or $45/year.

On iPhones and other mobile devices, the Evernote app gives you some extras. You can snap pictures and save them to Evernote. On iPhones, you can also grab photos from your Camera Roll and save them to the app. You can apply GPS tagging to notes, audio notes, and pix. There are also companion apps such as Everynote Hello, which helps you to remember the people you meet.

Evernote seems to have created a bottomless world of being organized. In videos on Evernote’s Web site, users brag about how Evernote has allowed them to create a filing system that lets them (finally!) throw away their paperwork forever. Two users claim to be running a restaurant with its help.

According to the Web site, one cute trick with the mobile app is to park at the airport, snap a picture of your car, GPS-tag the photo, and then use the phone’s GPS to walk you back to the automobile later.

Yet theoretically, at least, the iPhone edition of Evernote can be a valuable app even for those who aren’t all that ardent about organizing. It allows you to take written notes, voice notes and photos while away from your desk, and then synch them to your desktop.

Performance

I fired up the iOS edition — which also works on iPads — on my iPhone 3GS to see how it would function. I like the attention to detail in the app. It takes advantage of the additional capabilities of a smartphone vs. a desktop PC, such as the GPS tagging and photo snap-and-file.

Familiarization was easy, and I never got in so far that I got lost. However, I did find that I had to tap my way through a few icon buttons at first to feel my way around. I also wished sometimes for a few less steps in capturing and tagging my notes.

On my iPhone 3GS, the app would crash occasionally, usually on startup. Also on the iPhone 3GS, the app couldn’t fully handle any Web page clippings I’d made on my desktop that Evernote considered too complex to be synched to the phone. Fortunately, instead of just crashing at that point, the app popped up a request to “simplify” the captured screen.

When I accepted, the app stripped out most of the irrelevant Web-page graphics, leaving me with the text and links, which was fine as far as that page was concerned. If I had wanted the page for a particular graphic on it, though, I would have been out of luck. (In addition, when the app synched, my desktop version got stripped of its excess graphics. I wasn’t so happy about that.)

Evernote was also a bit sluggish on my apparently underpowered iPhone 3GS. It took patience to wait for it to respond to each requested action.

One hopes it would act snappier on one of the newer iPhones. My carrier contract will be running out soon, and I’ll be upgrading to a new phone. So maybe I’ll find out.

Conclusion

For the ultra organized of the world, Evernote is a welcome addition to the arsenal in the war against paper files and forgetfulness. I am not that kind of person. When I feel like getting things super organized, I generally just wait for the feeling to pass.

Still, even for those who aren’t organizing enthusiasts, Evernote can come in handy for snapping, saving, and then finding random items that appear on the screen.

For example, I keep forgetting how to do a screen capture on my iPhone. So I brought up the instruction page for that and captured it in Evernote. Now I can locate this page quickly and easily, whenever I need it.

This is light duty in comparison to how real enthusiasts use Evernote. Still, I’m finding Evernote useful enough to be worth the space on both my PC and my iPhone.

Pros

  • Extends your organizational reach to a smartphone
  • Synchronizes to your desktop Evernote
  • GPS-tags your notes and photos

Cons

  • Sluggish on old iPhones
  • Crashes on old iPhones
  • You could turn into an organizing fanatic; many have!


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