App of the day: Google Keep review (Android)

There's been a lot of grumbling since Google shut down Rader very recently. People are frustrated that the firm is ignoring their needs, and pulling the plug on popular services because it can't make enough money from them, or simply loses interest in them.

So when the firm announced Keep, there was a little moaning that, while it sounds like a really swell idea, if Google was just going to end up killing it in a few years time, then why should anyone get excited about it.

So we downloaded the app to have a look. Annoyingly, we discovered that it's actually rather ideal, especially for us, as Galaxy Note II users. And that's because, of course, you can use Samsung's S Pen to make notes too. Very handy. 

Google Keep

Format
Android
Price
Free
Where
Google Play

As you'd hope, Keep conforms to the new Google style. It's a very clean, clutter-free interface that has almost no distractions at all when you use it. The first time you fire it up, you're asked what Google account you'd like to use. Because this is an Android app, it can detect what Google accounts you have, and you'll be given the chance to select the one you want.

From there, the configuration is over, and there's really nothing else complicated. To get started, all you need to do is add some content. Google keeps this really simple. You can either make a quick note, which is simply typed into the box at the top of the screen and saved, Or you can open the full-sized note page. Although there's not a massive advantage of this for new notes, it makes more sense for revisiting old notes.

It gets better though, because using Google's speech to text engine, you can make a voice notes too. Simply speak, and Google will turn your words into text, but there's the added bonus that it stores the audio file too, in case it makes a comical mistake - it will - and you need to refer back to it later.

As you might hope, you can also add an image. Although this is geared up to add photos from the camera there and then. We couldn't see how to add an image from your gallery, which is annoying, although you can easily do this from the web interface on a computer. You can, interestingly "share" an image from your gallery via the share menu. While this works fine, it's illogical, and we'd like to see it available in the app itself.

There's also a search, which as you'd hope from Google is pretty good. We don't know how it will perform when you've got thousands of notes, but for our test, it was very rapid indeed, and a brilliant way of finding what you want.

If you want to access or create new notes from your computer, it's a matter of visiting drive.google.com/keep and you'll see everything you've written, and be able to add new notes too.

We hope Keep lasts, or the name will be something of a joke. Of course, it's tight integration with Google Drive means, no matter what happens, you won't lose your notes, but without the custom interface, it would be annoying to access them. Still, it doesn't look or feel like this is an expensive service to run - it's basically a Drive bolt-on. So as long as Drive carries on, Keep should be safe.