Handwriting for the Android version of Evernote has arrived

Evernote has finally released pen capability for the Android app. The Evernote desktop version for Windows had this ability when they first came and iOS users of the Evernote app have had this capability through Penultimate for a while now. However, it was only recently that Android users finally got a version of the Evernote app that would support pen capability. This was big news for me as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is my primary mobile device – it’s the device that I use the most. Continue reading “Handwriting for the Android version of Evernote has arrived”

5 Must-Have Androids phone apps for June 2012

With the combination of having to had to recently do factory reset and new friends moving to the Android platform, I decided to write a quick blog entry about what I consider to be the 5 must-have apps on the Android platform for me.

Lookout

I’ve used Lookout since they were called Flexilis on the Windows Mobile (no, not Windows Phone) platform.  They’ve grown to be an authority on mobile security with applications on the iPhone, the Android and the Blackberry platform. They offer the ability to scan applications that scan apps as you install them. This is particularly useful for Android apps especially if you plan to install apps that aren’t in the Marketplace for whatever reason. This is often used for installing apps that are in beta stages. Other features include backing up information (i.e. photos, contacts, calls, etc) and a slew of functions that allow you to deal with a missing device such as locating your device, making your phone scream, remote locking and remote wiping your device. My favorite feature is the find your device followed by making it scream. It’s a really quick way to find my misplaced devices 🙂

Swype

It’s hard to imagine typing on a smartphone without Swype. It was the first keyboard that introduced swiping gestures as a means to enter information on a phone. Because you’re moving over more letters and numbers, it actually tends to be more accurate. Because you’re swiping, it’s actually a bit faster because you’re not lifting your finger up to type. When it first came out, it didn’t handle touch typing as well because it didn’t perform autocomplete. It now does that just as well as the swiping. The one thing though is that it’s a beta product and not in the Google Play Store. While there are other products that do something similar like Flex T9, Swype is still the best in market especially since being bought by Nuance. You’ll have to sign up for it and install it here.

Evernote

Evernote is probably the first app that I used that has a desktop client, web client and mobile client. It was one of the first truly productive web services available in the market when it started. Evernote has also grown to be a leader in its space. Although I do have Springpad and Catch installed, I find myself using it the most because of the desktop and web client availability. There are so many awesome features on Evernote such as OCR and speech to text translation which are extremely useful. The Windows client also supports drawing as well. However, the feature that I absolutely can’t live without is the offline sync and its rich multi-client application.

Pocket (Formerly known as Read It Later)

I use Pocket largely because it was the first official Instapaper-like app on the Android. I needed it to mark articles on my Google Reader feed to follow-up again later. Also, I use it to archive any bookmarks of links that friends send me. When Read It Later became Pocket, it also became a beautiful application to read links. This is a particularly powerful app when leveraged with Android’s Sharing capabilities

Dropbox

Dropbox is a well-known file sharing service so I won’t bore you with what it does. But there are two things about Dropbox for Android that are awesome. The first one is it’s ability to sync your photos automatically to your Dropbox account. This is especially great when I use multiple devices and it’s nice to be able to consolidate all my photos in one place. To encourage this, Dropbox will increase your free account with 2 additional GBs of space which is the second awesome thing I love about Dropbox for Android. If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, you can use my referral link where both of us can have an additional 500 MB of space. Here’s my link: http://db.tt/sIzRrr71

What are your 5 Must-Have Android phone apps today?

Missing Evernote

You never know how good you have it until it's gone – and I'm talking specifically about Evernote. Yes, Evernote has its flaws (well, actually only one real flaw for my use and that's the lack of offline synchronization for Windows mobile) but it works very well for me. I've been playing with a lot of Fuze ROMS lately and flipping between the Energy, PROven and At0mAng ROMS because of perceived instability on my part. I'm back to PROven but on version 3.0 and after 4 hours of "testing" it seems to work fine. I'm kind of hesistant to say it's stable though. It's far too early to declare it. I usually don't find instability until about 3 or 4 days from now.

 
One of the major reasons why I decided to go back to trying a different ROM was because I was having a number of issues with it. One of the more major ones was the ability to sync with Evernote. Evernote has quickly been a staple of the means to how I blog. Even though I'm writing this on my Windows notebook, I'm actually writing this on Evernote just in case I don't finish my thoughts tonight and decide to write this later. There is a certain amount of safety in knowing that it is going to sync with a server some where.
 
On another side note, I was quite surprised that support for Evernote was actually rather sparse. I tweeted about my frustration about not being able to sync as well as used their GetSatisfaction site. I never got nary a response from anyone. I have to admit that I was quite disappointed by that.

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Evernote – Initial Review

Evernote Logo

I started to use Evernote a little bit more over the Christmas break. It touts itself as the tool for you to “Remember Everything” and it doesn’t do a bad job of it. What I like best about it is that it has the potential to be used everywhere. My particular use case is that I tend to start my thoughts on my Windows Mobile device while in transit on the subway and save it as I exit the subway. If I have the time, I like to dabble a little bit more at work on my Macbook during the work day before heading home and completing it on the subway again. Sometimes I have ideas that give me restless nights so I like to try to write it down before I doze off and forget them at all.

Since my mobile device of choice is Windows Mobile, I use the WinMo version the most. By default, there are multiple note types that can create – text note, ink note and audio note. You can also initiate a web clipping but I haven’t had the need yet. For the most part, I use the text note the most to start my blogs but last night I used an ink note to doodle an idea that I had. Worked well but I haven’t yet edited it. The thing that frustrates me most about Evernote is also the thing that I like most about Evernote. The concept of being able to write any notes and then sync them to a web site is brilliant. My frustration stems from the times when I have to use it and have no access to internet like when I’m in the subway. In this case, it doesn’t work consistently. Creating a new note offline works flawlessly. Saving a new note gives you an error but it still queues it up and then uploads the note when you’re back online. In order to edit a note, you have to be online to download the note and invoke the edit command even though you may have a previous copy of the file. Saving an edited note offline just causes you to lose the note.

 
The desktop versions are underwhelming in general. I can’t say that anything really stands out. The cool thing that I like about the Mac version of Evenote is that it has the ability to create an iSight note. However there are quite a few things missing with it. For one, I can’t email a note using Entourage. It only supports the default Mac Mail application and there is no ink support for Macs  yet. The Windows version feels a lot fuller than the Mac version. There’s the ability to do Saved Searches, gives me a quick preview of my monthly data usage and the ability to create and view ink notes. This is espcially important when my Windows notebook is a tablet PC :D. Having the web version is a nice option when I’m working on my Ubuntu desktop. I wish they also had a non-AJAX version of the site so it would work better on my Nokia N810. The formatting of the site on my N810 is just unworkable as I found out.
As I use it more, the couple of features that would make Evernote even more powerful as a product would be the ability to share my notes with someone. As I’m using it more, one of the nice thing about this would have been the ability to share it with another Evernote user to update it. Another feature that would be useful in the future is the ability to archive it. While I can tag it, I can see the long flow of notes being overwhelming and cumbersome and I typically like to keep my notes and not delete them. The product has some flaws still but the ability to synchronize it to a central place is still quite useful to me at the moment. The key question is that will the flaws overwhelm its features to make this a long term product viable product in the future.
 
Update: Evernote has failed me again. I’m no longer as gung-ho about Evernote as I was when I started out. I lost another blog entry that I so dilligently wrote in the subway this morning.

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Maturing web products

Lately I've been playing with more and more web applications like Newsgator, Evernote and Task2Gather. All of these products are good at what they do but no where to being the best products in their individual category. What sets them apart in my mind is the ability to be accessible through different platforms such as desktops, mobile devices and web. As the web continues to mature and "web 2.0-esque" products become capable stand-ins for desktop products combined with mobile devices that have both the computing capacity and network accessibility, the demand for products to be accessible at all times through multiple devices will increase. Another outcome of the evolution of this maturity is the ability to integrate with other web applications. An example of that is the integration of Remember The Milk with Google Mail for instance.

Google is by far the leader in the web platform space. From the point of productivity applications, there really is very little need for anyone to leave the Google domain. For most, Google Maps is the defacto map product. Google Docs is a decent product. I am more than happy to use the word processor and spreadsheet to do simple stuff on the web. People either love or hate GMail and there is nothing better than Google Reader on Firefox with Greasemonkey scripts running on it. Most of these apps also work with Google Gears making them capable desktop stand-ins. I thought it was a bit strange that Google didn't seem to invest that much effort into the mobile space. Outside of Maps, it's approach seemed minimal; limiting it's offerings to mobilized versions of their web sites or a litter of small and clunky Java applications that no one really wrote about. I hope things will change with the emergence of Android as I believe Android will give Google a devastating advantage to integrate into its already vast set of web services and APIs.

I am currently a heavy user of Newsgator and I've started to use Evernote a bit more. Having the ability to have my RSS feeds synchronized and bookmarked or "clipped" has made me a more productive reader. I also like the fact that I can publish my bookmarked articles to Twitter through an RSS feed. What impresses me most is how natural the flow is. I don't have to do anything extra to perform these steps. Another product that I'd like to see integrated across multiple platforms are something like Mint.com.Technorati

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Minor problems with Evernote

One of the problems of trying new technology is sometimes things fall apart in the attempt. I’ve been trying to use Evernote as the primary means of writing blog entries but I’ve run into some issues doing so. You can bet your money that Evernote is in one of my upcoming posts. Overall, a good product idea but with some minor issues partly because of how I use them. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to catch up over the next few days. I’d like to try to top the number of entries from December. From a non-blog perspective, we’re on a full court press at Zoocasa. We’ve got some big plans for Q1 2009. It’s so weird writing that year still.