It has its own operating system, maps, browser, book reading app, book store, browser and a stack of other apps besides, but for some reason, Google has steered clear of note-making apps. Interesting, when you consider that almost every OS in town comes with its own app to allow users to key in those on-the-spur thoughts and points that cannot wait for an office suite to be launched – be it Microsoft’s simple Notepad or even iOS’ uber stark Notes. Well, that changes with the arrival of Google Keep, a note-taking app for Android which can also work off the Web.

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Currently available for mobile devices running Android 4.0.3 and above, Google Keep is a relatively lightweight app at 1.5 MB and in best Google tradition, comes minus a price tag. Installation happens quickly enough, and once done, places a yellow Keep icon on your Android device.

In terms of use, Keep is incredibly simple, once you have logged into your Google account. The “add a quick note” option is available right at the very top of the app, letting you get into note-taking right away. You can add a title to the note if you wish, or just type away in the main body copy. You can also add an image, record your voice and throw in checkboxes if you are making a to-do list with items that need to be ticked off. Note formatting options are limited to colours, which are seven in number at the moment.

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And the importance of notes of different shades becomes clear whenever you launch the app, because the default view shows you your notes in a two column view (you can change it to a single column one if you wish), in all their coloured view, making the landing screen look so much like a relatively well-organised Post-It board. You can archive notes, share them across mail and social networks and even access them from your Google Drive account on your browser. A handy widget for the app can also be parked on to your homescreen, letting you scroll through your notes and make new ones without having to head to the app itself. All this through an incredibly simple, clean and uncomplicated interface.

And that pretty much is it for the time being. Nope, no fancy formatting options, no folders and no notifications even. Google Keep is note taking at its elementary best, an app that starts up and works in a jiffy. However, there can be no denying that when compared with the likes of Evernote, it starts looking decidedly featherweight. There are no notifications, you cannot include images from your gallery (you can only take new pictures), and even the integration with Google Drive, which we think is likely to be its most attractive feature in the coming days, is far from smooth. There is no ‘Keep’ section in Google Drive and you actually have to key in http://drive.google.com/keep in the browser to be able to see your notes, which is definitely a tad irritating. Ironically, we could not find a way to view notes even in Google’s own Drive app for Android. And yes, we did not like the fact that images always ended up being at the top of the note and could not be moved around (at least not on our HTC Butterfly).

All of which makes Google Keep more of a work in progress than a compelling new app. No, we honestly cannot see the Evernote or OneNote crowd giving up their accounts and stepping on to Google’s note-taking ship yet. But these are very early days, with improvements and tweaks looming large on the horizon (we are already hearing of better integration with other Google services and the possibility of the app coming pre-installed on Android devices). As of now, Keep wins points for its ease of use and interface. It is not a disruptor, but a very note-worthy new entrant (oh yes, pun intended), and if you are a compulsive note-taker, well worth trying out and keeping an eye on. Pun intended again.

Download from: Google Play
Price: Free


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Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.