Evernote

I’ve been an Evernote user since 2010. I’ve been a paying customer for as long as I can remember and I’ve literally thousands of notes in Evernote, but last month I had to renew and I decided not to.

Evernote has been drifting for a while and leadership turnover has been high. It clearly shows in the product to me. The core note taking product hasn’t changed significantly since I first start using it. They added a ton features I do not use and have taken them away again. But the core features have not been touched or improved. They really dropped the ball.

Back in 2010, Evernote didn’t really have any competition. Today, it’s a different world. Microsoft has made OneNote free – with the caveat you’ve to use their cloud storage service – and paired it with mature mobile apps on every platform outside Windows. Apple upgraded Notes and turned it from a gadget to a very capable note taking app in just one iteration. There are plenty of free or cheap niche but capable note taking apps out there like Simplenote.

Evernote had a great head start, but they lost it. My personal two pet peeves are slow dumb sync and the free-form typography.

Evernote never got sync right. It’s literally takes seconds to sync even though only one line in one note changed. The problem is that the mobile and desktop versions are perpetually out of sync if you’re not careful. Now that would be fine if the sync was smart, but it isn’t. It can’t resolve multiple edits of the same note. It always leads to duplicate notes and work on my end to resolve it. It made me cautious to use it. Open the app, wait 10 seconds for the sync to finish, verify it actually got the sync right before editing a note. It’s not seamless or effortless.
Apple got this right. If you’re in a note while your syncing, it shows the changes when they come in. Plus it’s smart enough to merge the changes between different versions without creating conflicts. That’s where the bar is at now.

Typography is a mess too. Everyone else went with a set font in different appearances like “title”, “heading”, “body” etc. Evernote still persists in allowing you to choose your font, size and weight. The only thing I expect from a note taking app is allowing me to put structure into my writing. I couldn’t care less about the font as long as it looks good. On mobile it’s even more problematic because you can’t choose your font. You’re stuck with either the default or what was set in the desktop app for that particular paragraph. You actually end up with unsolvable mess when you copy-paste from a web page. It duly preserves the font from the web page, but no way to change it. You end up with a note with multiple fonts without the ability to change them except on the mobile app. Again, Apple Notes does this perfectly. There’s one font and you can set a “title”, “heading” or “body”. Simple but effective.

I’m a strong believer in using third party apps. Apple Notes is great today, but there’s no guarantee they’ll keep maintaining it. Large corporations tend to get distracted and then you’re stuck with a subpar product. It happens all the time. I rather use Evernote, but they make it really hard to love it. Now I’ve jumped ship. I use Apple Notes and Simplenote. Neither are my preferred options, but it’s the only good option available to me.

Evernote, please fix your product.