Google has just announced a new product called Google Keep (see the original blog post here):
At first glance, it looks like it’s a cross between Evernote and Google Now. It’s similar to Evernote in the sense that you can quickly and easily add notes, audio clips, photos, etc. to a general digital scratchpad, but it’s also similar to Google Now in the sense that it’s well-suited for ephemeral things like to-do lists which you only want visible for a short period of time. From the phone interface, you can “swipe away” items to archive them and remove them from view, making it easy to avoid clutter without actually deleting things. There’s also an “archive” button in the web interface which offers the same functionality.
I’m playing around with Google Keep on my phone and laptop right now, and I can tell that the quality is a little bit rough. It would make sense, for example, for Keep to have separate “folders” or “channels” to place items in; however, as far as I can tell, all new items go in the same general slush pile. Ideally, a teacher could create a “folder” for each class and be able to click into that folder to automatically file away all notes, photos, and audio clips as belonging just to that class, but it doesn’t look like this is implemented. Until something like that exists, this might be a better tool for general productivity purposes, not for individual per-class collections of materials.
The homescreen widget for Google Keep is pretty amazing. The smaller option, a 3×1 widget, consists of four “input” buttons- new note, new list, new audio recording, and new photo. The larger option, a 3×2 widget, uses the top half-row for the input buttons while the lower 1.5 rows is a scrollable mini-window which lets you see your recent “kept” items. You can scroll down ticker-tape style to see your kept items in reverse-chronological order, all completely seamlessly and with no loading time that I could detect. The “swipe to archive” feature kind of breaks here, though. Obviously, you can’t swipe to archive on the widget because you need the same gesture to navigate from one home screen to the next, but even if you tap on an item to open it in the Google Keep app, it brings up a details/editing screen which also lacks the swiping functionality. On this screen, you have to hit Menu > Archive. Pretty clumsy.
I’m excited about this new tool, but until it’s been refined a bit more, I don’t think it’s ready for classroom use. I encourage you to give it a try, though, and let me know what you think in the comments!
PS: Here’s a Google Play link to the Android app and a QR code of the same!