After plenty of leaked pictures and speculations, Google has finally rolled out Keep, it’s quick note taking application for everybody. The application is available to download from the Google Play Store for absolutely free here. You must be running Android version 4.0.3 and plus for the application to work on your device. Google Keep is directly in competition with the likes of Evernote and Springpad as your go to app if you want to quickly jot something down. And Google has most definitely given it a right pump so that you do not go back to using your Flipnotes and a pencil to quickly note some information down. The application has features galore, so let’s dig in and find out if it does what it was designed to do.
The UI on the Google Keep is extremely simple. The application uses a Holo Theme based design which we have already seen and liked on the likes of Google Now or even Google Plus. It indeed looks like an in house Google designed product.
Things are minimalistic and very clean. Walking around the application is rather simple and you do not have to learn a whole set of gestures to be able to work on it. In fact thanks to the ability to use plenty of colors for notes which we will talk about in detail a little later, the application scores very well on the looks. We like the design consistency that Google seems to have embraced with it’s apps and long may that continue. We tested the application both on a phone (HTC One X) and a tablet (Nexus 7) and came out very impressed.
You can select between a single column or a multi column view based on how much information you want to be displayed. Doing this is simple, just tap on the menu button on the top and you can choose either Single Column mode where all notes are displayed one after the other or column mode where they give a more billboard sort of a look.
Entering Text Notes
Google Keep is an incredibly basic application, but it does what it is designed to do, that is take notes. Opening the application for the very first time will lead you to the screen where at the top you can add in a quick note.
Just tapping the text field will let you enter a text note, but if you are feeling creative you can also enter in a Voice Note, an Image or a Check list. We will talk about all these different notes too as we go along. Once you are done entering the text, you can also change the background color of your note to make it a little bit more prominent. And since mind registers colors more than text, chances are if you select the right color you would remember the note that you took down.
Choosing colors is extremely simple, when you are done entering the text on the top right hand corner of the field you will see a color pallet, simply tap on that and choose the color of the note that you wish to use or feel suits right with the note. At the moment, there are about 8 colors available, white, red, orange, yellow, grey, cyan, blue and green.
If you feel that the small inline field is too small for you to enter the text in and you would like a larger box so you can read through what you have entered, you can simply expand the box by clicking on a boxed arrow that is on the lower right hand corner of the quick note taking field.
Often we find ourselves in a situation where we hear something and quickly want to record that down. We grab for the sound recorder but in all of that, usually end up missing out on the audio. However, Google Keep ensures that you do not miss out on such any more. You can take voice notes easily now on Google Keep by tapping on the microphone icon in the text field. The voice note, not only records your voice but also deciphers what you are saying and writes that down in a note form.
It is a feature we really like, because often when an idea strikes you, maybe you are too excited to write it down completely and you would rather speak it out, Google does the job of writing now. And to our surprise even with a not so perfect American accent of ours, the recorder very well understood what we said and transcripted the same very accurately. You can once again change the color of the note by tapping on the color palette or alternatively share the note too by clicking on the share icon.
Not just this, you can also add on a picture to your Voice note so that you remember when did you take the voice note by clicking on the small camera icon at the top. This feature is available not just for the voice notes but all across Google Keep. You can add on pictures, or even check boxes to your note irrespective of the type of note you are taking.
Not only can you attach images to existing notes, you can simply make a multimedia note where you have an important picture that you feel you should remember. For this, from the quick note field tap on the camera icon which would fire the camera on your device and you can take the picture and write a note about the picture.
Not just one, you can add add more than one picture to your note by tapping on the camera icon once again. This feature too works really well and accurately displays the time of the last edit of the note so that you know when was the picture taken or note added.
There is no editing of images allowed at least as of now, so if you want to crop a certain section out or even change the brightness in case you took a bad picture, you are left helpless, so that is a feature we did miss while taking picture notes on Google Keep.
It is also possible to add checklist as your quick notes in Google Keep. This is particularly useful for those who have got a series of errands to do in a day. Even for us as bloggers this is a cool feature as it lets you take down different topics you wish to write on, and once you are through with the job, just simply check the box as job done. Definitely Google Keep would be checked off too when the article goes online.
The checklists feature too is very basic so far, and you cannot really change much from the basic UI. You can though add colors to the notes just like you can do with all the other notes too.
We did like the feature that when we did check an item in the box, the app automatically made a strike through link across that entry meaning it was successfully completed. Even after exiting the note, the strike through and the check box stayed updated so that just opening the application you knew the check tasks that you have achieved.
Another feature that is really interesting and very well implemented by Google on Google Keep is the ability to archive the notes. Simply swiping the note across from the main page would archive the note, very similar to how it is in native Gmail application.
You can also open the note, click on the menu button at the top right corner and archive the note from there. Immediately after archiving you get a status bar at the bottom that lets you undo your action in case you made a mistake.
It is also possible for you to view all your archived notes by simply tapping on the menu button on the main page of the application and tapping on “Archived Notes”. This would take you to the section where all the notes are archived.
It is extremely simple to delete the notes that you not wish to keep in Google Keep. All you need to do is simply select the note that is of no longer relevance to you and long press it.
After you long press, on top you will see three options come up, to share the note, to archive or to delete it. Select the bin which indicates the option to delete the note and your note would be deleted. Unlike archiving, there is no way to undo this and once you have deleted the note it is gone.
Sharing information from within an application is one of the big strengths of Google and the story continues with Google Keep too. You can share your note across different applications from the application by long tapping the note and selecting the share button from the menu bar that has popped up at the top of the screen.
The note can be shared across apps such as Google Plus, Gmail, Picasa or Whatsapp depending upon the apps you have installed on your Android device.
You can even Tweet the note that you have just made, and the Tweet comes up with a little signature saying that the above tweet was sent through Google Keep. Interesting way indeed especially if you want to share across an image to your twitter followers.
Not just from Google Keep, but you can also share images from across your device or some other URL from your device to Google Keep. Simply when you come across anything you want to share from your Android device to Google Share, click on the share button and select Google Keep and the application will automatically make a new note for it. Extremely handy way to remember things.
This is perhaps one of the very best features of Google Keep. It asks you for the Google account you wish to keep your notes sync’d with and as a result whenever you make a Keep note, it is sync’d across all the Android devices which have the same account activated.
Not just Android devices you can also view all your notes when you are working on your desktop. This is because Google Keep is sync’d with your Drive account so you can simply have all the data on both your Smart Phone as well as your desktop.
To view your notes on your desktop simply head over to your Drive page using this URL and you will find all the notes already sync’d without you having to do anything. Obviously the key here is that you should be signed into the same Google account on your desktop.
To conclude, we really like what Google has done with Keep. Yes, it is incredibly basic but having said that it does just about everything you want from a regular notes taking application. It does not have any fancy features of editors or too much playing around with text colors etc, but in our usage of the application we never felt the need for it. The sync across all our Android devices and desktop worked seamlessly and if you are into the whole Google Ecosystem of using Drive or compose your documents on Google Docs, you are going to really like Google Keep. The UI impressed us and the learning curve was pretty much non existent in the application which we obviously appreciate. We do hope though that Google would announce an iOS version of Google Keep too so that our Apple devices could also be syncd with all the notes on Android devices, but till then, Google Keep is definitely an app that deserves space on your Android device.