App review: Evernote

Welcome to Evernote

The Evernote load screen.

If you’ve never heard of Evernote, this post might CHANGE YOUR LIFE (a little). If you know about it, read on for a review and some suggested uses.

App name: Evernote

Type: note-taking

Description: Evernote is a cloud notebook that syncs with all your devices and is accessible from any computing device

Evernote options

Evernote options menu.

Evernote is an app that is so beautifully constructed and intuitively designed, you’ll find it hard to believe it’s free across all platforms. But it is, and I’ve tried it on an iPhone 4S, an HTC Evo 4G, a laptop running Windows 2007, a Mac Pro desktop, and a 2010 MacBook. It’s one of the apps I know most thoroughly, and it’s flawless no matter how you access it.

Evernote in Notebook view

Evernote in it’s simple, efficient Notebook view

Evernote is a notebook that allows the attachment/insertion of a variety of file types, but it’s defined by it’s quick, user-friendly syncing options and deep feature set. Choosing a good note taking application comes down to identifying the essential features you need from a virtual notebook. If your priorities are access and price, look no further than Evernote, a free cloud notebook that, like Dropbox, is available from any device once you create an account.

An example of an Evernote notebook

A research notebook created in Evernote.

As an example of Evernote’s flexibility, the image to the left is a research notebook I created while working on the book. I was able to drag PDFs directly into the program on my MacBook and Windows laptop. I was also able to open PDFs through Evernote on my iPad, but only after temporarily deleting several other apps. For whatever reason, Evernote’s Open In… priority is really low, so it didn’t initially appear as an option for opening files. The problem here appears to lie with Apple’s iPad user interface, not Evernote, so don’t hold it against them.

Evernote works well as a component in a cloud classroom. You can share notebooks filled with course content with your students, or they can share with each other as part of research projects, study groups, and resource pooling. Creating organized student work spaces is one of Evernote’s hidden features. The flexibility of Evernote’s format handling is also great for students, since they are often working with a variety of file types.

The Evernote app and website work together seamlessly, but you can easily use one without ever signing in to the other. And no matter how many notes you take, syncing rarely takes more than a few seconds. You can use Evernote to provide space for students to collaborate on notes, and entire notebooks can be shared, so no more concerns about missed classes meaning a missed work. Attaching pictures, audio, documents, even recording audio from within the app are all remarkably simple to accomplish.

The app and website are both designed with simplicity in mind, and with a user interface that mirrors a basic word processing program, Evernote might not be the favorite amongst the student body. The same probably won’t be true of teachers and administrators.