Evernote vs. Springpad

As you know from reading my last post, Arc the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Sony Ericsson! I’m still looking for a good note taking and task management application.

Evernote for Android screenshot

Evernote for Android

I figured I’d be using Evernote since that’s what everyone else is using. But a comment from a co-worker made me take a second look at their terms of service and what else is out there. Thankfully there’s nothing in the terms of service to make me rip the internet connection off the wall. Both Evernote and Springpad assure users early on that the data belongs to the user – always has and always will. Although they both muddy that up later in their TOS it remains certain they’re not trying to steal your data.

So the TOS aside, which one should I choose to organize my life? Both allow you to take notes, create to-do lists, add pictures and images. Apart from the Android app both have web apps to access your content from any web browser, and even hosted Chrome apps to launch in a special tab in your Chrome browser.

Evernote

The Evernote logo reflects their app very well: a big monolithic grey elephant because everything in Evernote is a note. Pictures, drawings, rough drafts of blog posts, shopping lists, everything, even a task list is just another note containing tasks (albeit with a special mark-up so there’s actually check boxes and special search operators to find incomplete tasks.

Evernote also has a thick client for Windows and Mac, but not Linux. It has an API and there is a third party client called NixNote (written in Java) but obviously it’s not the official client.

Springpad

Springpad is much more colourful. There are notes, but there’s also plenty of other types of objects, from tasks to recipes to check lists to favourite restaurants. To each object you can also add other notes, links, photos, videos, and files. The things you store in Springpad are structured with fields to identify certain types of information. So a recipe will have ingredients, directions, cook time, and servings. But at this point you can’t add things like nutritional information for example (well, you could as an attachment in a note for example). Having this structure inspires you ask for more; so it would be great if Springpad allowed the user to add arbitrary fields to any object (besides un-structured Notes). Springpad also has an API so there’s the possibility of third-party extensions.

I’ve had some issues with the Springpad app though. When I created a shopping list on my Android phone I could edit items until after I save the list and re-opened it to edit it. There are other quirks like this too here and there.

There’s also some pretty cool features, like built-in barcode scanner and product look ups, automated alerts that integrate with your Google Calendar.

One thing that I couldn’t believe about Springpad though is there’s no way to share with other Springpad users. You can share the link to a note so others can view it, and there’s even buttons to share on Facebook, Twitter, by e-mail, and anything else support by Add This!

In Conclusion

I can see how Evernote is the ideal solution during a meeting or brainstorming session when you want to capture things quickly and throw in the occasional task. Evernote is also the more popular tool so there’s a much larger eco-system, things like xobni and IFTTT integrate directly Evernote but not Springpad.

And I see how Springpad is great once you’re sitting down and can get things organized. So when you want to impress with the perfect wine you can quickly look-up your favourite wine list and the restaurant to go drink it at.

I like all the different objects in Springpad and how they structure their information, and the built-in barcode scanner and other integrations is pretty cool. Aside from some of the quirks I’ve run into I have to admit I find Tasks in Springpad to be narrowly constrained – each one is a separate object and you can a lot of information to one task but you can’t create a series of linked tasks.

Evernote can obviously do everything I want, but without the structure of Springpad there’s always the risk of having a lot of messy notes that aren’t really useful.

So the jury is still out, but we’ll see which ones helps me through my Christmas shopping the best! Unless of course Google revives their Notebook project – in which case I know exactly what I’ll be using!

Cross-posted to Schultzter’s blog at Evernote vs. Springpad

  1. Jeff Janer, Springpad co-founder here. Thanks for the review; just wanted to let you know that we’ll be addressing collaboration and sharing in a big way in the next 30-60 days.

  2. Thanks for the comment.  I really look forward to sharing and other enhancements in Springpad.

    I’ve been using Springpad side-by-side with Evernote for a couple days now.  And I’m sure I’d prefer to use Springpad, no doubt about that. But I’ve also run into a lot of little issues (like not being able to add a Contact or Business to an event even though we’re given that option; or trying to create a Business from selected text on a web page and ending up with a Note instead with no way to convert it – although when I use the Chrome extension Springpad correctly picks up it’s a restaurant but doesn’t grab the address, hours, phone that I’ve highlighted). 

    It’s very frustrating on the one-hand to have Springpad which offers to do exactly want I want but has lots of little bugs; and on the other-hand to have Evernote which does nothing (everything’s a note) but does it perfectly.

    AAAAARRRRGGGGHH!!!

  3. I have both and use springpad most often for new notes/lists/etc. Used to use Astrid till the sync between phone and tablet and website and google ended up duplicating everything 4 times. Moved those notes to Evernote. So I use both. Notes I have had for 4+ years in Evernote and daily stuff in Springpad. Dont know if this is the best way to handle it, but works for me. Actually cant decide between the two. I guess a future feature will decide, so I wait.

  4. The answer is simple (atleast for me :P) you got Springpad for your personal stuff, for example i use it for remembering book names, tv shows, xbox games, Homework, and any random idea i have, then for everything else (School mainly) i use Microsoft One Note. Evernote is a hybrid of the 2. Not as good for lecture/class note taking and not as good for using as a personal diary. So in the end, Springpad vs evernote, i’m gonna have to side with Springpad, and they update regularly so that is a bonus.

  5. Great blog post. I prefer Evernote, but I will see Springpad for myself tonight. I love the eco system as you described, and I do agree that Evernote should add another layer of objects or gmail integration. Also, why are there more IOS addons than for Android? That’s annoying for me. Great info, and prosperity to our blogs and businesses.

  6. FYI, I’m just out hunting for a replacement for Springpad, now. I have gotten frustrated with it for the last time, and I’m looking for a better alternative. All I want to do is simple note-taking, and checklists. I’ve found that Springpad is highly unreliable about tracking changes, though. Example: I keep a grocery shopping checklist in Springpad. I wander around my home, add things I need to the checklist from my desktop web browser, and head out to the grocery store. At the store, I pull out my phone (Android), and find that the items I added are not there! Minutes ago, I just went through this process, since I’m paranoid about it now, where I click the shopping list name from the list of All My Stuff to verify if it’s keeping my changes when it refreshes. It keeps changes I made a short time ago, but the one change I’m making now fails to show up, even after a half dozen attempts of Add New Item >> Type item name >> refresh list. I was thinking I had a reason a LONG time ago when I chose Springpad over Evernote (I think it had to do with Springpad being a cleaner, simpler program at the time. Oh, the irony!). Anyone else have other suggestions / experiences?