iPad Experience: Evernote goes beyond super sizing

Some apps were made larger to run on the iPad while others had some optimization. Evernote went even further and brings an experience similar to the desktop with support for the multi-touch capabilities of the iPad.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Some of the applications that have been updated for the iPad are simply larger versions of iPhone apps while others are enhanced to take advantage of the larger display and user interface elements. And then we have apps like Evernote (iTunes link) that takes what you love in the desktop app, adds in support for the mobile user interface and turns out an application that almost gives you a reason alone to buy an iPad. A few select developers actually had access to iPads to test their apps so they were first out of the gate with highly capable apps. Amazingly, Evernote just used the simulator and a cardboard iPad cutout to design Evernote for iPad and I am VERY happy with the initial release. The exciting part is that Evernote now has the iPad in hand to create updates that will make the application even better.

I captured screenshots of Evernote in action starting on this page of the iPad Experience Series image gallery. You can also check out the Evernote created video below and some of my thoughts of the application and service. Evernote has an excellent blog entry that details the design process and many of the application's capabilities.

Quick walk around Evernote

When you first launch Evernote on the iPad you are give options to sign in or create an account. I have been using Evernote for a while so i simply signed in to my account. I was then taken to the All notes tab that show you all of your notes in a virtual scroll with the newest notes at the top and a timeline/scroll bar on the right side. This is much like the experience you are probably used to in the desktop version of Evernote. On the bottom there is an icon in the left corner for initiating a new note while the right side icon (a satellite receiver) opens up your synchronization menu options (sync now, offline notebook settings, Evernote email address (one used to send notes to your account via email), and monthly usage statistics.

Along the top of the application are tabs for the following; All notes, Notebooks, Tags, Places, and Searches. Over on the far right of the top is a search box. Below these tabs on the far right is the View options button and tapping that lets you sort All notes by date updated (default), date created, title, notebook, city, and country with details or thumbnails view.

Tapping on the Notebooks icon shows you your notebooks as virtual folders with the latest note on top. In the center bottom you can tap to sort notes by name or note count. The next tab over is the Tags option that shows your notes by tags and has a view very similar to the Notebooks view. Moving further right lets you view your notes organized by Places. Notes can be geo-tagged when you create or edit them and with this view you can view them on a map in map, satellite, or hybrid view. You can also tap on the icon to determine your location. The mapping is done via Google Maps. I do not see a way to create geo-location notes on the iPad though.

The final tab to the right is for Searches and on this page you can save searches for quick access/filtering of your notes. After searching, results appear in yellow highlighted text if the text is within the note body.

If you want to view a note you tap on it and then it opens up taken up about 2/3 of the screen. The other 1/3 is taken up by details or thumbnails of other notes with a timeline/scroll bar. I personally find using Evernote in landscape to be a better experience when viewing notes where the note takes up most of the right side with the details/thumbnails on the left.

When you create a note you will find you can combine text, voice recordings, and images into a single note. As soon as you tap the microphone icon recording starts with buttons to save, stop, or discard. You will also see a dynamic sound meter appear so you can gauge how clear your recording may sound. I was caught off guard a few times because I was expecting to see a record button appear after tapping the microphone icon, thinking that the microphone icon would just open up some recording widget. Recordings seem to be pretty decent too. Tapping on the photo icon lets you select from your albums and the cool thing is that you can add multiple photos and recordings in a single note.

You can tap the arrow on the right to select a notebook to save your note in. Multiple tags can also be selected to assign to your particular note. You cannot yet create new tags or notebooks on the iPad, but I am sure this capability will come in a future update. You should enter a title and text in the body of your note using the iPad keyboard. You can also shake your iPad to have the undo input pop-up window appear.

Feedback on improving Evernote

Before I list what I would like to see in an updated version of Evernote on the iPad, they have already stated the following on their blog:

Drawing: We think that making a quick sketch or jotting down a phone number with your finger will be a great experience on the iPad, but we didn’t want to try to put in this functionality until we’d actually spent some quality time with the hardware. Handwriting is just too much of a tactile-based experience to develop purely on a simulator.

Notebook, tag and search management: Notebook, tag and search management: You can’t currently make new notebooks on the iPad, and tag and search management options are limited. Of course, you can do all of this from the Mac, Windows and Web versions of Evernote and the results will be automatically synced to the iPad. The next version will include this functionality directly on the device.

Full screen view: So in addition to these things mentioned above I would also like to see the ability to either slide the thumbnail selector pane to be smaller or add a way to view notes in full screen mode. Evernote may be able to do this with a double tap or tap and hold. I don't mind too much zooming and panning, but with the large display of the iPad I would really like to view my notes in full screen mode.

Advanced note creation functions: Evernote for the iPad is so much more functional than on a smaller screen Android, BlackBerry, webOS, iPhone, or Windows Mobile device and as a result I want to see even more like a desktop. I create tasks lists in Evernote so I would like to have a few template options when I create a new text note. I also want to see the ability to create geo-tagged notes in Evernote on the iPad.

Final thoughts on Evernote for iPad

Even though there are a few areas that can be improved upon, I personally was very surprised and am pleased by the usability and functionality of Evernote. The application is one of the best on the iPad, IMHO, and will get better over time. You can use Evernote for free, but since I believe so much in the product I am a premium member that gives me greater monthly upload allowance, more support, and better security for just $45/year. Since most people can probably get by with the free version there is no risk in trying it out so go get Evernote now for your iPad.

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