Evernote for Blackberry Review

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 10:41 am By BigLig , In

First off, if you're not familiar with Evernote, it's a software notebook, allowing you to keep all the little scraps of information you collect in one computerised (and hence searchable) place. Evernote stores your data in the cloud, so you can access it from any web browser, or by using client software on your PC or Mac. You can get a free account with discrete advertising, or pay a little every month to get more storage and no adverts. I got into Evernote after both the Microsoft solutions I'd been using to keep notes in failed me miserably. (OneNote destroying all my data was the last straw!) With a cloud based product, I have copies of my data not just in the cloud but also cached locally in the client software. You can also do neat things like sending an email to your notebook.
Evernote have had an iPhone client for some time now, and we Blackberry users have been eyeing it with longing.
Although using the Evernote web client on the Blackberry works well, one of the most interesting features in Evernote is that it can store pictures as notes, and will transcribe any text in them. You can upoload photos you've taken with the BB using the web client, but it requires quite a few steps. In the iPhone client, you start Evernote, press a button, and take a photo. Hence the longing from the Crackberry addicts.
So, how does the Blackberry client shape up? They've made some unexpected design choices, and it suffers from RIM's hideous process for installing software, but it does exactly what I need it to, and I'm really glad to have it.
When Evernote announced the BB version yesterday, they provided a link, but just a link to install RIM's new app store, the Blackberry App World. Since I already have App World, it took me a minute to figure out that I was going to have to search for it myself, especially since such a search failed to find it. A search on the messageboards found that some people could find it and others couldn't - new software seems to comes onto App World slowly. (Which is deeply wierd from a technical perspective. Maybe they push it to one server and it takes time to replicate to the others?)
After an overnight wait the software appeared in my instance of App World, and I hit the download button. Evernote downloaded, asked me a technical question about trusting the app. I ran the app, and it asked me if it could use the network. Then it said there was a newer version, and took me to Evernotes web site to downlaod it OTA. So I downloaded it again. It asked me an even more technical question about overwriting the old app. Once it was downloaded, I ran it again. It asked me if it could use the network. I said yes. Then it asked me again. Then again. Then, for variety, it asked me if it could use Location services. As I said, hideous.
I suspect that RIM, like almost everyone else, thinks that the iPhone sells so well because of the big screen, without realising the real reason: if the Apple App Store had a user experience like the Blackberry App World, Steve Jobs would have fired everyone involved, and indeed anyone else who passed his office that day.
Once the client is installed, though, it works well. Interestingly, it is not a full client like the Mac, PC, or even the iPhone version, but a sort of intelligent front-end to the web interface. Capturing a new note happens in the client, but reading an existing note takes you seamlessly to the web client. If you're blackberry is offline you can't read existing notes, but you can capture new ones, which will sync up to the cloud once you reconenct to the network. This might be a deal-breaker for some, although in my case I also have the iPhone client running on my iPod Touch, so if I'm offline but desperately need some info from my notebook, I have a cached copy.
Apart from that, it just works. It suffers a little from that common problem with Blackberry software, in that parts of the user interface are hidden until you press the menu button. I spent a while when creating my first note baffled because I couldn't see the button to say "I'm finished, save this note" until I remembered it was a Blackberry, pressed the Menu Key, and saw the Save option there.
As I mentioned above, my main reason for wanting the Blackberry client was to make it easy to create photo notes. This is certainly the case - taking and uploading a photo couldn't be easier.
I hadn't realised - because I run the iPhone version on my 1st generation Touch which doesn't have microphone support - that Evernote on phones supports Audio notes as well, which could be very useful. The BB client can even upload PDF or other documents, a feature present in the regular client. I'm not sure how useful that is in a mobile device though.
Overall, then, I'm very pleased. My various complaints above are minor inconveniences compared to how much more useful Evernote now is for me.
Evernote is at evernote.com


the little nothing said...

I use evernote all the time, but I can't seem to figure out how to upload a snapshot photo note. I use a blackberry 9700 bold. It takes me to the camera - I take the photo, but then when I go back to evernote there's no sign of where I've been. I can't find anything on this issue.

4:50 am