Google Keep first look: An underwhelming app; Microsoft OneNote and Evernote leave it in the dust

Google has released its note-taking Google Keep app, and it's not much more than a mildly useful app that doesn't come close to the capabilities of Microsoft OneNote and Evernote. I've put it throught its paces, and it's clear that unless Google considerably beefs it up, it will remain an also-ran.

The app was announced on the Google Drive Blog. It's designed to let you quickly jot down notes, take photos, transcribe voice notes (and keep the original voice file), and keep them all in the cloud and synced and available to your devices.

I've tested it on a Google Nexus 7 tablet and on the Web and found it underwhelming compared to Microsoft OneNote and Evernote. If this is all Google Keep is going to be, don't be surprised if it turns into yet one more project that Google kills.

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It's simple and straightfoward to type in notes, record and transcribe voice notes, and take photos and store them with notes. I found the voice recognition software solid; my transcribed notes required little editing. The app keeps your original voice note, which is useful. You can also choose to delete the original recording, but keep the note if you'd like. You can color-code notes, archive them, and change the way that they're displayed. Notes are synced to your devices and stored on the Web. You can share them on Google+, Gmail, other email services, and Twitter.

And that's pretty much it. It doesn't come close to the capabilities of Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. So, for example, you can't capture Web pages and other information from the Web, something that Evernote does exceedingly well. It's not structured for larger projects like OneNote, which lets you nest tiers of information. It's not much more than a simple, cloud-friendly, sticky notes app: Simple, straightfoward...and underwhelming.

Will some people find it useful? Undoubtably some will. But if you're looking for a robust information-grabbing and note-creation tool like OneNote or Evernote, you'll be extremely disappointed. I certainly was. I've recently blogged about ways in which OneNote beats Evernote, and I was hoping that Google Keep would be a worthy competitor to both. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Unless Google improves it considerably, it could well be another project that Google abandons.

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