I’m taking another look at Evernote, which has recently added three big features:
- Task support
- Google Calendar integration
- Home page/dashboard
The left sidebar has been tuned up, so it isn’t such a confused mess.
As far as I can tell, these features have not been adapted to the browser version, just the desktop version (I haven’t checked out the iOS app yet).
They’ve shuffled the feature deck on their free and paid plans. The least expensive paid plan is $72 per year, which is almost twice what Notejoy’s Solo plan is.
(As you read this, keep in mind that I use Apple products for my personal computing, and a Windows PC at work.)
Which apps is Evernote competing with?
This is not a universal question. It’s a personal one. That is, which note-taking apps would I use instead of Evernote?
Here is my very subjective analysis:
Notejoy presents a bland, but standard view of my notes across all its apps. It provides the most flexible methods of organizing my notes, with nested folders and nested tags. It does fairly frictionless linking and back linking. I can embed most any type of file I need to. Notejoy is not the place for me to manage my tasks, although it is possible to create checkbox lists. I can email any note right from within Notejoy, which is a nice feature. Notejoy does not have a daily notes feature.
The drawback with Notejoy is that I just don’t find the experience of writing in it to be all that inspiring. It’s hard to put my finger on why. Part of it is the lack of margins in the text editor when it is not inf focus mode. But I don’t think that’s the only reason. I tried using Notejoy for my morning pages writing and it just didn’t draw me in.
Mem is a strange application. Or I should say it is very different. As far as taking short, quick notes, it presents what feels like the most frictionless experience. Just start typing and the editor opens up. All notes are captured in the timeline, a rolling chronologic view. I can provide some structure and context with hashtag links. I can ensure I see important notes two ways: add the note to the inbox or star it. Mem also does modest task management. I can add tasks to notes, then see all my tasks across all my notes with the tasks feature. Mem has plug-ins they call Flows. One of these allows integration with Google Calendar. It shows upcoming events and allows me to create a mem for each event. This compares similarly to the new Calendar integration in Evernote.
But, just as with Notejoy, I don’t find Mem an inspiring writing environment. It is great for quickly capturing events and various data I want to remember, but it isn’t where I’d write a long piece like this. It also isn’t a place for capturing research.
Clover has a lot of potential, but isn’t ready yet for prime time. I think it handles tasks the best of any of these apps. And the writing experience is pretty good. I can access elements to insert into the note with a quick keystroke (like Notion). The big problem with Clover is the organizational structure. There are no folders, just nested pages, which can be documents or surfaces (whiteboards for diagramming). The big question for any note-taking app is how well it holds together when you’ve got it stuffed full of notes. Clover’s approach feels very claustrophobic to me. But the developer seems very open to suggestions, and has already said they would look into adding folders.
Hypernotes had me most excited when it first became available. Each page is like a Roam Research document, as an outline. But pages can be sorted into topic-specific notebooks. It handles tasks similarly to Mem and Clover, but does reveal ugly markup coding when creating the tasks in my notes. And that makes it feel unfinished… a feeling that gets amplified by oddball behavior in the documents. For example, sometimes the outline bullets remain visible and sometimes they do not and there is no rhyme or reason to why. I think there remains potential here, but that app needs maturing, and it doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention from the Zenkit team.
Unlike Hypernotes, Amplenote feels very mature for a relatively new app. It has strong task management and a solid daily notes feature (called Daily Jots). The developers have added thoughtful features, like a way to add notes to words and phrases. The linking is solid. But the only way to organize my notes is through tags. This feels too limiting. And, worst of all, the interface feels crowded. In short, it doesn’t inspire me to use it.
Of all the apps on this list, Craft provides the best writing experience. It feels more like a word processor than a notes app. It isn’t universal, however. The Mac and iOS apps are full featured, but the web editor is still very limited. That prevents me from making it my go to notes app. When the web editor catches up to the desktop app, I will likely use Craft as my main notes application.
Notion is really different from the other apps in this evaluation. It is an information tracker, not just a note-taker. As such it really should fall outside this evaluation. I have included it in order to exclude it. It is certainly possible to keep notes in Notion, but it is not optimum. I do not like writing in Notion. The notes are simply not granular enough (though I don’t value granularity as much as some do). I will use Notion for keeping certain data.
Apps I Am Not Considering
There are note-taking apps that are very popular, but which I have already made up my mind:
- Roam Research – Too expensive, too granular.
- Obsidian – Too reliant on plug-ins.
- Organizedly – I like this app, but development seems slow and it is too opaque.
- Dynalist – I love Dynalist, but it is a list app, not a note-taking app.
- Noteplan – I like the approach of Noteplan, but it is only available for Mac and iOS.
So what is the verdict with Evernote? As far as clipping info from almost any source and saving it, Evernote is unsurpassed. It is also ubiquitous. The new, cleaner and more standardized user interface is an improvement. Still, the writing experience is not optimal and export options are limited. It is more expensive than other apps that I’ve already paid for. All those reasons add up to me keeping my free personal account, but not relying on Evernote for my note-taking.
The Bottom Line
So which app am I using? Well I am using all of them to some extent or another. Mem is growing on me, though I’m not sure it is the place I want to write and organize long notes. That will be Craft when the web editor catches up with the Mac app, but is currently Notejoy. I’ll keep my eye on Clover and Hypernotes. And I use Notion for welding together all the information I need for more complex projects.