Evernote: Redesigned and Improved

Evernote is one of the most popular digital notebooks services, and it has been very popular with iOS users for some time now. There have been many complaints (mostly plain text fanatics) about Evernote’s export ability if you choose to leave the service, but I feel that Evernote is better fit as a digital archive rather than an ongoing list of notes. What has brought people to using Evernote in the past is how easy it is to save info from the web for reference and items to remember later. Have a great meal? Save the image into Evernote along with the recipe for when you would like to cook it.

While features are not touted as the main new items in the new Evernote, the redesign is. The old Evernote seemed to suffer from an identity crisis. On iOS, the app was not uniform and looked completely different when using the iPad and iPhone. With the new redesign, the app and service has become more uniform and looks consistent, with extra features on the iPad due to screen real estate. Let’s take a closer look after the jump. 

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The New Homescreen

The biggest redesign users will notice is the redesign of the homescreen. Instead of opening the app and seeing stock UI elements within the app, users are greeted with a subtle gray undertones and prominent green labels.

Which one would you prefer to use?

Which one would you prefer to use?

Launching Evernote will reveal a listing of all notes much like in the old version. The redesign really shines here. Notes can be sorted in a list or by tiles. On the iPad, due to more screen real estate, a recent notes section is available for quick reference. I thought I would find myself wanting this on the iPhone version, but then realized a listing of notes sorted by date is basically the same thing.

The new homescreen allows for quick access to all sections of the app, even the new places feature.

The new homescreen allows for quick access to all sections of the app, even the new places feature.

The best redesign feature, in my opinion, is getting rid of the standard UI boxes with options to access notebooks, create a new note, tags and search. Now these options, with the exception of creating a note and search, are available under the Evernote mascot, the elephant. Creating a new note is available on every screen in the upper right corner, or by swiping down in the homescreen. I really like the move from the bottom toolbar in the old design. Search is also easier to access by scrolling up in the list of notes in the notes listing.

Notebooks, Places and Tags

The previously mentioned items which used to populate along the tab bar on the iPhone are now available under the Evernote elephant with the addition of a new iOS feature. Notebooks allow for a collection of similar notes to be grouped together. Examples of uses for ideal notebooks would be one with recipes for cooking, notes for a class or even a collection of all of your favorite iPhone.AppStorm post.

The notebook listing was really shown some love in the redesign.

The notebook listing was really shown some love in the redesign.

Tags, while similar to notebooks in the sense that it groups similar items together, have a redesigned view as well. The tag listing list the current tags in alphabetical order with a search box at the top of the listing. Tags are editable and if you select a tag, a new note can be created within the tag view using the tag currently selected. In the example of the cooking notebook, tags would be very useful to tag Thanksgiving recipes.

Places is a new feature in the iOS version of Evernote which showcases notes by the location where it was created. This can be great to view notes related to trips, as all of the notes will show where the trip occurred, and the user can easily see all the notes associated with the trip.

Creating Notes

One of enhancements in the new Evernote is the repositioning of the new note button. It seems to be located in a better spot where it makes more sense (in the top right corner) while viewing all notes or another category. Once the user is creating a note, Evernote, with the user’s permission, will grab your GPS position and auto populate the note title with the current location. Evernote, also with the user’s permission, will look at the iOS calendar and grab an event if it falls during the current time and use that as the note’s title. Grabbing the calendars entries is really useful, and I find it nice in scheduled meetings. The auto populating helps take away extra typing that might be needed to write a note title.

If the suggesting of note titles becomes aggravating, there is a setting to turn the suggestions off.

When writing a new a note, the user is able to enter pictures, a voice recording and add formatting, if so desired. The formatting options can be accessed by pressing italics A button next to the keyboard button. Once the note has been created, a user can share it with the built-in iOS sharing menu.

The built in formatting options are great to add structure to your notes or you can record them as a voice note.

The built in formatting options are great to add structure to your notes or you can record them as a voice note.

Notes are not just text, though. I think this is the part of Evernote that makes it stick out; since it is a digital notebook, it can have text, PDFs and images. Above the different sections of the app are three different ways to get notes into Evernote from the homescreen. To the left is the Create New Text Note option. The middle choice allows the user to take a picture to save to Evernote. The right option is the page camera for taking a picture of a piece of paper to upload to Evernote. The page camera will detect the edge of the paper to crop the image to just the size of the document.

Premium

For most users, the free features of Evernote will be enough, but if you desire more or if you like directly paying for the items you use, then Evernote Premium would probably be a better fit. Some of the benefits of premium include the ability to add a passcode to protect account information. Premium also includes access to notes offline, note history, bigger upload capacity and more. With the redesign the premium features have become more prominent in the app which might upset some users, but I feel Evernote has a right to do this and wants to make sure that every users knows premium is an option.

Premium subscription options are now prominent in the app while the page camera is extremely useful for saving copies of receipts.

Premium subscription options are now prominent in the app while the page camera is extremely useful for saving copies of receipts.

Conclusion

The new design of Evernote makes solid improvements in unifying the iOS apps and making them into counterparts instead of separate apps. I think users of Evernote will like this update, even though it might takes some getting used to. I think the new design will help attract some new users as well. The app looks very polished.

Evernote was already a powerful name in the digital notebook competition. With the redesign and implementation of new features it seems they have shown why they have been a strong competitor. While the design may push some users away due to the significant change, I like the innovation and plan to keep using the service for a long time.


Summary

A digital notebook which can save notes, images and content from the web to bring together all areas if your life.

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