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.
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.
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 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!
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