Why Springpad Will Never Replace Evernote

**UPDATE: Please take a look at my latest post called, “Holy Springpad, Batman — I’ve been Sprung … and Why I admit I’m now wrong” for a fresh new look at Springpad’s amazing updates!**

I must have downloaded Springpad … and then deleted it … and then downloaded it … and then deleted it a half dozen times. Why? Because I wanted to give Springpad a fair shake. I love the guys over at 40tech.com and it’s probably because of their post on Evernote vs Springpad that I decided to give it more of a serious look. Reading posts on why people are switching to Springpad from Evernote truly makes me wonder why they’re using Evernote to begin with if that’s the case. As you all know, getting back on task is huge for me.

Here’s the thing for me about Springpad: I just don’t get it … and I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. So, I’ve outlined two main (and fairly simple) reasons why I won’t ever switch: creating a note & creating a task.

Creating a note
I use Evernote on my iPad to create notes while I’m at a client meeting. Here’s how that process works in Evernote. Open App. Tap new note. Begin typing. Add tags. Happiness.

 

There’s nothing very mysterious about it. The same applies if I’m at my PC and on a conference call. New note. Begin typing. Add tags. Easy. Happiness.

Here’s how that process works in Springpad for the iPad.

Step 1: tap the “+” sign.

Step 2: tap “Add by Type”.

Step 3: tap “Note”.

Step 4: type the note.

Besides being convoluted and way too many steps — there’s no tags. You can add it to a list – but without tags, there’s no real efficient way of sorting through my meeting notes! I know fromreading comments on Springpad’s blog that there’s plan’s to add mobile tags soon – but until the do, where’s the real value?


What’s equally frustrating, is trying to type new notes online. Here’s how that works:

Step 1: You have to first select the type of note you want.

Step 2: Then you need to title it.

Step 3: Then you need to click on edit once it appears in the drop down to begin typing out your note.

Step 4: Then, once you’ve typed your note and clicked on save,

Step 5: Then, you have to then go back to the list, click on the title to finally categorize and add any tags to the note.

Conclusion: Springpad is definitely not at the place it should be for anyone seriously looking (for whatever odd reason) for an alternative to Evernote; especially for business people!

Creating a task
Equally as frustrating is the ability to simply create tasks in a meaningful way. The big gripe for many in Evernote is the ability to use it as a GTD tool. Search for it on Google and you’ll see what I mean! I completely appreciated those comments; that is, until I downloaded Egretlist through Evernote’s new Trunk offering. See my last post. In any event, within Springpad’s iPad app & online, you can create a task and then enter a due date, category & description of the task. For anyone who is a serious follower of the GTD methodology, there’s substantive problems with this method.

For example, I’d want to be able to tag a task by context (i.e., @home, @office, @computer, @errands), Someday/Maybe, Waiting for, by project, and perhaps whom I’ve assigned the task to with tags (#joe, #chris, #sally). Within Springpad, you can only assign one category. I thought perhaps I might have found a workaround by tapping on “Add to a list”. When you do that, you can either create a list or add to an existing list. Technically, one could use category as context and then under list, add your projects & tags – or some various thereof.

As I pointed out in my post about Evernote & Egretlist, I can easily add tasks in Egretlist see them immediately in Evernote. I can create the tasks in Evernote and see them appear in Egretlist. Again, simple – the way I need it to be for fast moving and on the fly task & project management.

Conclusion

I think Springpad is okay for those people who don’t need a serious task & project management tool. It’s great for what it does, but I subscribe to the theory that your product should try to do up to 3 things right and do it at 100%; not try and be 1,000 things to attract the masses. Springpad I think is trying to do everything – create notes, create tasks, remember your favorite wine, book, restaurant, movie, business, provide reviews of products, helps you shop online, and you can download “apps” of varying types to throw into your account to help you do scores of other things. Again — it’s great, if you like that kind of thing.

Evernote’s core offering is creating notes … and it does a damn good job! It allows you to organize those notes easily through notebooks & tags. With its latest collaboration efforts with other companies through the Trunk, it offers integrations with complementary products to make Evernote more robust — while at the same time, not erroding Evernote’s streamlined interface that so many have come to love.

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About Daniel

Transforming how legal professionals work by creating more effective discovery outcomes and driving value.

Posted on September 24, 2010, in @GTD & productivity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I was also baffled at Springpad’s popularity, and not just because it was painfully slow to “spring” (more like slog) stuff from a web page. My my guess is while you compare the two for what it takes to create a note to enter your own content, people who love Springpad don’t use it to write, organize, or retrieve content they have created or will use to create – it’s for clipping recipes and keeping track of which new TV to buy (and of course showing all your friends the new tvs you want to buy). Springpad is to Evernote (or Onenote) what an Amazon wishlist is to a word processor or graphic editor. I love my wishlist, but it’s pretty useless for work.

    • Thanks, Russ, for the great comments! I couldn’t agree more. Speaking of which, take a look at Catch.com, formerly 3banana. They’re hyping themselves to be the next “Evernote app killer” when they have (at least as of today) a very minimalist note taking app!

  2. Don’t know why everything has to be framed as a competition… Springpads not trying to be or top Evernote… but….
    My clicks to get a note into Springpad are the same as Ev: two. (Mobile app).
    My want and need IS to have an information processing app that does do much more to help augment, categorize, etc than Ev (which I used for years).
    I switched a year or so ago because Evernote was SO slow to respond to every need of its users.
    Springpad… not so.
    The development that Springpads made since they’re inception far outstrips Evernote for the same period of time since they’re inception…. when (their product was so clunky and slow and two years of requests just to edit your notes!… let alone access them offline went unanswered) lol!
    The major update coming to Springpad within two weeks will have some fantastic functionality features.
    Desktop app release in February.
    I am a teacher… and virtually my entire professional information is organisationed via Springpad.
    Still use Evernote.for various reasons but still primarily what it was designed for :a braindump.
    No don’t work springpad lol.

    • Tim: thanks for the comment! I’d be very interested in hearing how you are using Springpad for teaching. I’m always curious asbo how others implement these kinds of tools. Do you also follow David Allen’s GTD methodology? If so, I’m curious as to how our do this is Springpad.
      Oh and as far as the competition, well its just part of my nature!!

  3. Hi Tim,
    I don’t think the comparison needs to be framed as a competition either. However, brand loyalty will be fierce with this sort of decision because both services promise to be a repository for a great deal of information, much of which will be personally valuable if not irreplaceable for those subscribing to it. What really comes of a story like this is a sense of how people think, organize, leverage their material belongings, you name it. And it will be hard for people to switch after the fact. As I did myself, what I hope other readers will get from this story and others is a sense for what they really want as an “external brain”-the term the Evernote founders coined for their service.

    The real test for either service, I think, is whether information can be individualistic (and personally inspiring), safely centralized, and easily repurposed and retrieved. On that last point, there’s an upside and downside to using one service for many odds and ends (bookmarks being a serious hold-out for either service), but some might find that the simple virtue of using a service like Evernote is enough to get them to trust that they can access all this stuff again. Other’s might need reminders, shopping suggestions, and the like, and feel that the things they interact with in life conform easily to the same things their friends on facebook like which can be easily found on amazon.

    I’m of the mindset that we are more than just consumers. The author of this review clearly spends much of his time providing service and contributing to his environment, as we all do. Just leave you with a thought: when you’re not busy buying stuff, how are your needs and interests reinforced and represented?

    • James – Thanks for the incredibly insightful comments you’ve provided on this topic. In particular, I wanted to address this point you made:

      The real test for either service, I think, is whether information can be individualistic (and personally inspiring), safely centralized, and easily repurposed and retrieved.

      You’re absolutely right. Often times, we are looking for the perfect virtual system that will ultimately replace our notebooks, pads, folders and mountains of paper that sits on our desk. When software or a webapp is created that tries to accomplish this objective, we jump all over it and then, quickly go to it and say, “wow this is great, but it fails because of X, Y or Z.”
      Other times, we’ll go searching for a software of webapp that creates a solution for a problem that may not even be out there.

      To your first factor in your test, whether it can be individualistic, in either scenario I just presented above, we as consumers are always searching for the perfect replacement to our analog world. I’m confident the perfect system doesn’t exist. Inasmuch as I really like Evernote, it fails on certain levels as well. Springpad’s most recent development though goes a very long way toward making our virtual information far more individualistic and I’ll probably need to create a new post on how great I really do think they have come along in a few short months.

      To your second factor in the test, having it safely centralized, is critical. Especially if you are storing secure information, this is definitely critical and most of these services pass this test well given how tantamount this concern is across the board.

      I think, similar to your first factor in your test, the third one is especially difficult – creating something that is easily repurposed and retrieved. Evernote allows for easy retrieval through its wonderful search engine. Springpad’s most recent update allows for tagging and notebooks and as a result, their search and retrieval has come a long way. The hard part I think it repurposing our data so that we can organize it all in a way that makes sense according to how we work — going back to your first prong, making it individualistic.

      All this to say that in the end – the analog world allowed for better organization of our world. Consumers looking to digitize their analog world are provided with some great services like Evernote and now Springpad is a strong contender. Is it perfect? Not at all. Will it ever get there? I truly believe it will with great conversations just like this one!

      Cheers!

  1. Pingback: Holy Springpad, Batman – I’ve been Sprung … and why I admit I’m now wrong! « dan gold, esq.

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