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.

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 2FatDads.com at Evernote vs. Springpad

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Arc the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Sony Ericsson!

Yes, I know, I’m going straight to hell. But then Lord Jobs probably wasn’t going to let me in to heaven anyways!

It’s been over a week now that I’m using a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and I still always try to spell it Experia! Unlocking the phone to use on my network was the most frustrating part of the experience so far – not the phone’s fault or FastGSM.com‘s fault either, like usual Windows had driver issues!

(Future rant: more vendor support for Linux)

If you want to know what I went through, FastGSM.com has an excellent video on their YouTube site.

This phone is sleek, like so sleek the fanboy’s here are going to wish the iPhone 5 looks like this! The concave back of the phone sits nicely in the hand; and the 4.3-inch touch-screen goes almost edge-to-edge making it feel like you’re in that Corning Glass commercial. The display uses Sony’s Bravia technology so it’s crystal clear. The other thing you notice looking at the front of the phone is there are only three buttons, not the usual four – Sony Ericsson has done away with the Search button, as they should. The right side of the phone holds the camera and volume buttons, and the top holds a diminutive – but functional – power button.

The only downside to the phone’s concave design is it leaves the excellent Exmor R 8-megapixel camera taking the brunt the contact when you put the phone down. A case would alleviate this problem but also destroy the aesthetics of the phone.

Speaking of the camera

It goes up to 8-megapixels with pre-sets for 2-megapixel and 6-megapixel in 4:3 and 16:9 formats (no 4-megapixel preset which is unfortunate since that’s the free limit at Picasa). It can also do sweep-panorama and 3D sweep-panorama.

To see the 3D photos though you need to hookup to a 3D TV using the HDMI connector. Sony has once again demonstrated they can build a phone with an excellent camera – or is it a camera with an excellent phone?!

Gingerbread Sandwiches

The Xperia Arc runs the latest version of Android: 2.3 Gingerbread. And includes some interesting applications out of the box (I’ll be honest, the first thing I did after un-locking it was de-branding my phone – I’m sure it originally had some bearable applications but I’m really not interested). And Sony Ericsson has confirmed they will be upgrading all their Xperia phones to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Schnapps

Taking the prize for most interesting and the prize for most frustrating is Sony’s own Timescape application and widget. This displays a timeline of events (tweets, messages, calls, etc.) on your home page. The display is beautiful and scrolls nicely forward and back. But that’s it, it’s read-only! For example, you can’t reply to or re-tweet an interesting tweet! You have to open your Twitter app, find the tweet again, and deal with it there. So what’s the point!? Sony has released the Timescape API so better implementations may be forthcoming but the precedent is not good.

Happily Sony Ericsson allows anyone to unlock the boot loader. Although it comes locked a quick visit to their web site will provide the instructions for unlocking it – after the requisite, repeated, acknowledgements that if you FUBAR your phone you’re on your own, no help from Sony if ye enter here!

Since I’ve got the phone I’ve installed a few apps that I seem to use regularly:

Android Terminal Emulator
‘Cuz this is the way real unix works – no matter how small the package!
Angry Birds
What more do I need to say!?
Bitdefender Carrier IQ Finder
And I’m happy to report that Carrier IQ was NOT found on my phone!
BusyBox
Real Linux in a real small package!
Data Monitor
Not sure why this one isn’t in there out of the box, but it’s good to know.
Finance
Unfortunately it doesn’t support my Canadian stocks, but hopefully it will be updated soon.
Foursquare
I’m going for Emperor of the World badge now!!!
Google Books
This ought be easier than carrying around the actual Complete Works of Shakespeare.
Google+
Instant photo uploads is a pretty cool feature, then I just have to get them organized in PicasaWeb (auto-organization would be the coolest feature ever).
Solitaire
Ever since the first computer the first thing you look for is Solitaire!
Superuser
What fun is linux without a little su action?!
TimmyMe
Gotta have my mocha!
Titanium Backup
So I can keep what I want and blast the rest to oblivion!
Twitter
Once a twit, always a twit!

What I’m missing at this point though is a good note keeping app and an official Google Tasks app. The note keeping app may end-up being Evernote, but I’m keeping an open mind for now.

My only complaint is there seems to be a quirk of the market that it doesn’t synchronize with what’s actually installed on the phone! So when I de-branded my phone I got rid of all the carrier installed cruft but it’s still in My Library in the Android Market – I’m never going to install it again so I really wish it would disappear! But there’s doesn’t seem to be any way to re-synchronize what’s on the phone with what’s in your library?!

A thousand monkeys

This is the first phone I’ve had without a physical keyboard, and though I was dreading it the default keyboard is very quick to use. My finger never leaves the surface, I just slide back and forth, changing direction (or pausing) over the key I want to type. Of course, it’s not the same as 10-finger touch-typing and occasionally my other digits want to get in on the action!

Cuppa Java

Every now and then I get the itch to develop something like a powerful spreadsheet macro or a funky iGoogle gadget. Now I’ve got a phone I can really develop for, but unfortunately the development environment is based on Java! Now, I was Java Ninja – 10 years ago! The year 2000 called, they want their programming language back!!! It’s not real Java since it’s actually running on an alternate virtual machine called Dalvik but you’ve still got to deal with everything that is Java while developing (like Eclipse). We know that inside the Googleplex they’ve got some Go apps running natively on the ARM processors of their Nexus phones, but nothing’s public yet (and Go is targeted at server-side, there’s no UI in the core packages, so I’m not even sure what they’re running on those Nexuses).

Conclusion

Awesome phone!

Cross-posted on 2FatDads at Arc the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Sony Ericsson!