Google Keep or not to Keep? That is the question

Google Keep

Google's stepping into the note-taking game with a new service called Google Keep. Announced late Wednesday, Keep adds a visual interface to Google Drive for memos, lists, and photo-based reminders.

Like everything in Google Drive, content stored in Google Keep is automatically synced and available on any connected device. A standalone Keep Android app lets you get at your stuff on the go, while the Keep website works (as you'd expect) from any desktop browser.

A lot of people seem excited to see Keep launch. Me? I have mixed emotions.

In the big picture, it feels a little strange that Google's launching a new supplementary service just days after announcing the death of Google Reader -- a death justified by the goal of achieving better focus within Google and preventing the company from becoming "spread too thin."

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It feels even more strange when you consider the fact that a Keep-like service called Google Notebook existed and was killed off before -- a mere year and a half ago, at that. Given the context, it's hard not to wonder: Is Keep actually a long-term committed project? Or is it another random service we'll become invested in as users only to find on the Google "spring cleaning" list a few years later?

Broad misgivings aside, Keep does have a sleek Android interface, complete with excellent home and lock screen widgets. The integration with Google Drive is also a nice plus for anyone who uses Drive already.

But the service doesn't bring much new to the table -- and it lacks some basic features we've come to expect in note-taking utilities.

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Absent, for instance, is the ability to organize notes with labels, tags, or folders. Also missing is a way to easily import existing notes from another service or even from Drive itself (short of manually cutting and pasting them in one at a time, of course, which isn't exactly a fun task).

All considered, I find myself asking why Keep is here -- and if it's something we can actually count on Google to keep around.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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