POSTED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 1:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 1:04am
CNN — Google Keep is a wonderful scratchpad with the potential to be so much more.
Before the arrival of Keep, which Google launched this week, there was no default note-taking app for Android. It was a glaring hole, considering that Apple's iPhone has built-in Notes and Reminders apps that can be powered by Siri.
Instead of just settling for a bare bones app to fill the void, the search giant took things one step further. Keep isn't simply just a place to bank whatever random half-thoughts come to mind: Users can construct to-do lists, stash photos, and color code your notes -- all in one well-designed and easy-to-use interface.
The second you log anything into your phone, it is accessible from a desktop browser via Google Drive. Alternatively, you can save things while working on your PC, and it will instantly appear on your phone, ready for use while on the go.
The design may not be as progressive as the to-do app Clear, but Keep makes up for that in its simplicity and efficiency.
Everything in Keep is presented like a Microsoft Windows Phone-esque stream of tiles. Swiping left or right will archive those notes you no longer need (but don't want to erase entirely). At the top of the app is a text entry field that serves as your main point of entry for all new notes. And when viewing any specific note, tapping any part of that note (title, body, etc.) will allow you to edit it. The entire experience is frictionless.
That said, it's not going to conquer the world quite yet. Organization options are limited -- color coding is your only choice, and you can't re-order your notes. Sharing with others is mostly limited to email and Google+, and the desktop features are pretty bare bones.
But that's more a function of it being new, rather than poorly thought out. Like most things Google, expect the company to flesh out Keep over time and really turn it into our personal internet junk drawer.
It's easy to foresee the day the when users will be able to send anything from their Web browser or Maps directly to Keep. The prospect of Keep incorporating features of services such as Pinterest or Pocket, or even making it easy to catalog streaming media, could turn it into something big. That should scare Evernote.
Keep is not the reinvention of the wheel in any aspect -- there are a plethora of third-party apps already available for Android. But it is a well-exectuted refinement.
In filling a minor, but important gap in its mobile ecosystem, Google gives the competition one less claim of superiority over Android.