Keep - impressions

I used OneNote but switched to Keep - just for a try, and because OneNote for Android is weak - I had liked it on WP7.5 though. Keep is great for what it does, if you want a sticky-note style (simple) notes app with the best of Google's always-synced-ness. In fact, Keep embodies Google's roots and ethos better than any recent app (that I know of). By allowing Google to be unambiguously on the same side as its users, it makes a persuasive billboard for the motherlode of G+ and G Drive.

There's a few themes you could tease out as to why Keep is a welcome and modest project from Google, relating to some of the company's other dilemmas: the limitations of Chrome OS; the limitations of total sharing and privacy. It's the tension between depth vs universality. It's the line between the promise of sharing everything with yourself, vs unknowingly sharing it with others. By keeping a safe distance from these questions, Keep flaunts a certain home-field advantage. It's a timely and excellently designed friendly face for all of their services to inveigle on to people's homescreens and into their habits.

But, a few rough edges immediately stand out:

  • Most of the note colors are too loud. They help the app stand out, but once you're working with the notes, the colors are just too neon. A positive example of "skeumorphism" is the use of of the same muted yellows, greens and gray of office paper. If anything, more muted, considering how dynamic colors are on a modern phone screen.
  • The two widgets are oddly dimensioned and its cement gray color clashes with almost any background.
  • There's seems to be a glitch where on a longer note, it won't scroll to where you're writing, your work disappears behind the keyboard.
  • No basic text formatting: underline, italics, bold.