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Monday
Jun072010

The Future of Evernote in 2010

A couple of months back Phil Libin (CEO of Evernote) did another public Q&A session on the Evernote blog.  During the course of this session he set out a range of updates that would be carried out in the Evernote-sphere over the course of the rest of the year.  I've finally managed to get a few hours to filter the whole question-response set and categorise them into mini-road maps of what's coming for Evernote users.

Obviously in the interim many of these things have already been implemented, but where possible I'll highlight this too.

All Clients

  • Inclusion of light image editing - including annotations.
  • Printing enhancements.
  • Addition of a due date field to notes - exposed for integration with third party reminder apps.
  • OCR for Japanese characters.
  • Handwriting OCR within attached PDFs.
  • Better table handling.
  • Better drawing.
  • Increased note/file size limits.
  • Improvements to saved searches.
  • Toggle PDF view - in-line vs. file attachment.
  • Depending upon costs SSL transfer of notes may be expanded into free accounts by the end of 2010.
  • Voice transcription and audio searching through API integration.
  • Improved styling of the clients.
  • Note history.

Note history was added to the Evernote service back in a mid-April update along with doubling of note size limits to 50 MB for premium users.  A week later and the major note structure update was released allowing better style and rich text support in Evernote notes.  This introduced improvements to tables as well as the ability to support enhanced note editing such as strike through (as mentioned for specific clients below).  It didn't introduce ways to edit the styling of rich notes on all of the mobile clients, but it has laid the foundation to do so.

Web Client

  • Revamp of tag management.
  • Major revamp is in the works.

The web client has been relatively quiet recently, but there have been improvements to clipping from the web with the advancements in the Chrome and Safari web clippers.  I'm not hugely fond of the existing web client (being spoilt by the other clients), but the shared notebooks feature and access anywhere option means I'll keep coming back to it for small bits of use and any improvements will make that experience that much better.  I guess HTML 5 might go some way towards opening the door to making the client more "app" like and functional.

Windows Client

  • Maps for geo tagged notes.
  • Recording audio whilst typing.
  • Shared notebook access (Fall 2010).
  • Improved OneNote importing.
  • Revamp of tag management.
  • Text strike through.
  • Blurry fonts fix - relies on update to Microsoft's Window Presentation Foundation (WPF).
  • Full screen note viewing.
  • In PDF search highlighting.

The latest Evernote for Windows update is the 3.5.4 client.  This included improved table support and options to hide unassigned tags.  The strike through of text feature became available in the global note styling update.

Mac Client

  • Maps for geo tagged notes.
  • Recording audio whilst typing.
  • Shared notebook access (Fall 2010).
  • Revamp of tag management.
  • Text strike through.
  • Full screen note viewing.
  • Performance improvements.
  • Shortcut key for new tag.
  • View tags in column view.

The Mac release from the 25th May was focussed on improving the synchronisation performance.  This probably forms part of the performance improvements, but I would imagine from the context of the Q&A that there are more to come.

iPad Client

  • Full screen viewing of notes.
  • Shared notebook access (Summer 2010).
  • Sketching capabilities.
  • TextExpander integration.
  • Notebook creation.
  • In PDF search highlighting.

The April iPad update provided improvements to maps and the full screen note view.  It also made improvements to note synchronisation on both the iPad and the iPhone/iPod (including the resolution of the "U2" sync bug.

The May iPad update included improvements for managing tags and searches.  It also included performance enhancements that were propagated to the iPhone/iPad versions too.

iPhone & iPod Touch Client

  • Will get notebook and tag browsing.
  • Enhanced note editing - rich text.
  • Multiple attachments (including images) in a note.
  • Recording of audio whilst typing.
  • Shared notebook access (Summer 2010).
  • Less intrusive tips (like the iPad).
  • New note button available everywhere.
  • TextExpander integration.
  • Notebook creation.
  • Sketching capabilities.
  • In PDF search highlighting.

Much of the iPhone / iPod client development is rolling out of the iPad development.  So whilst it is lagging behind at the moment, within a few more months it looks like the iPhone / iPod client could be catching up.  If the new iPhone and OS 4 release date are put out at WWDC later today then Evernote may even refocus on this client (the iPad OS 4 release date is expected to be after the iPhone / iPod release).

Android Client

  • Local note storage.
  • Bypassing the menu to access notes.
  • Grid view of notes.
  • Support for ink note entry.

The May update to Android seems to have been a significant one.  The  search bar has been revamped along with improved camera use and a number additional languages. The main aspect of the update though was probably the bug fix for the pervasive java.lang.IllegalStateException error.

Blackberry Client

  • Local note storage (some time after Android).
  • Push-API implementation.
  • Grid view of notes.

There hasn't been a lot of output on the Blackberry front as yet, but Evernote were recruiting a while back so there will certainly be something in the pipeline that should surface in the next few months.

Web OS Client (Palm)

  • Local note storage (some time after Android).

With the acquisition of Palm by HP and the recent suggestions that HP aren't currently interested in developing smart phones the future of Evernote on Web OS may seem somewhat shaky.  However HP are interested in Web OS so I would guess we'll maybe see it surface on some HP tablet device(s) in the future - which would potentially be a great platform for Evernote.  So whilst I expect it may go quiet on the Web OS development for a while I would guess it isn't dead just yet.

Windows Mobile Client

  • Local note storage (some time after Android).

The announcement of the Series 7 Windows mobile device had Evernote working on their Windows mobile strategy some months back and everything has been quiet on the Windows Mobile front.  I've seen nothing further since, but the first Series 7 mobiles are alleged to be shipping in 2010, so I would expect that Evernote might have an updated client to launch with them.

As well as updates to specific clients, Phil also highlighted some third party developments

  • Linux client development.
  • Universal product code and barcode integration.
  • Third party templating through the API.

Linux was mentioned several times, and the response continued to be that there's an API and if someone wants to develop a client they can.  It seems odd given how varied the platforms supported are, that Evernote isn't interested in pursuing the development of a Linux client in-house.  Still it was alluded to that there were some beta programs out there so perhaps we will see something this year.  It would certainly be helpful for anyone running one of the popular little Linux net books.

Phil also mentioned a few other points that didn't quite fall into any of the sections above that I thought might be worth pulling out too.

  • Books.
    • There are a couple of how-to books out in Japan and a couple more coming out.
    • There is an English how-to e-book coming out soon.
  • Links between notes are coming.
  • Official support for portable Evernote (on a USB drive) may reappear soon.

These are all really very exciting.  I personally prefer the dedicated clients over the web client wherever possible, so an updated portable Windows client would be really quite nice.  The ability to link notes is also a missing piece of the puzzle for me.  I migrated away from a personal wiki to Evernote and being able to link related notes would restore that missing functionality for me.

I'm a little intrigued by the Evernote book.  I try to keep up to date with Evernote and I use it on various platforms.  I even listen to the podcasts and subscribe to various online user groups.  I have a reasonably good understanding of the power and flexibility of Evernote so I'm intrigued to see if there's anything in the book for more experienced users.

Finally it must also be worth mentioning that after persistent requests, it sounded like Phil eventually conceded and sub-notebooks made it onto the Evernote drawing board.  There's no mention of when this might appear only that it's a big change.  Personally I can live without them.  The functionality that grouping notebooks would give is already there with tags and actually give a much more flexible solution.

So in all 2010 looks to be an amazing year for Evernote development and releases.  The new hardware being released (e.g. iPad) is driving an lot of innovation and if the updates in the last few months are anything to go by, it looks like Evernote are on track to deliver something really cool on a platform at least once or twice a month.  What still intrigues me though is Phil's answer to one of my own questions...

Me
"What feature release are you most looking forward to in the remainder of 2010?"
Phil Libin
"The *second most* important thing that I’m looking forward to in 2010 is accessing shared notebooks in the downloadable clients. This is coming to iPad / iPhone first, then to all the other ones. The *most important* thing that I’m looking forward to is still a seeekreet, for the next few months, but stay tuned."

I'm guessing (and hoping) we haven't seen the most important thing yet, but I can't wait to find out what it is!

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Reader Comments (3)

For me the most exciting addition is voice transcription for the iphone app. I currently use Reqall and have it send the transcribed note to Evernote, but would obviously be a much better and more elegant solution to have it done directly in the Evernote audio recording.
Furthermore, the ability to type notes while recording (on all clients), combined with "syncing" the written notes to the audio, would catch Evernote up to Livescribe.

I hope it happens, and the sooner the better!
Thanks for a great blog, by the way. Just discovered you.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavidW

I agree - I think it is transcription - It sounds like one big thing - I'd rather see a range of smaller things - folders etc.

July 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRichardF

My current hunch is that the announcement on July 14th may be something to do with voice transcription, though I recall that this will be achieved through a third party partnership and hasn't been *that much of a secret (ref. above).

Nuance (who make the Dragon range of dictation and transcription software) would be the best of breed option as a partner and they've already established that it is practical to carry out reasonable transcriptions using their iPhone app and server service. I haven't tried it myself as it isn't available in the UK but the US reviews have been complimentary. The only other transcription service provider that's close to good enough that I know of is Google ... and I just think that's a little unlikely.

July 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterStephen Millard

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