The Power of Google Keep

I wrote some time ago (April) about why I don’t use Evernote and how I had moved to Google Keep – though I wasn’t entirely happy with the product.

The logo for Google Keep.
The logo for Google Keep.

I’m still not entirely happy with Google Keep – but I am also still using it all these months later – so that says something.

Google Keep provides an easy way to keep notes. You can take them on the web, via a Chrome App, or on your Android phone using the Keep app. Recently they had the beautiful feature of geolocation reminders – in other words you can tell Keep, “When I am within x of x location, reminder me that I need to do x.” So, I might say, “Remind me next time I am within 500 ft. of the post office that I need to buy some more postage.” It is pretty nifty functionality and I’ve successfully used it to remind myself to do things that usually go undone b/c I continually forget to do them when I’m nearby (e.g. pick up some x from the grocery store).

The killer feature of Keep for me over Evernote is its Google Drive driven versioning which allows one to go back in a documents history as necessary – something which is extremely limited in Evernote (at least last time I used it).

So, what keeps Google Keep from being perfect?

  1. The pace of development has been horrifically slow. Come on guys, if you even devote a few folks to full-time development this application could be amazing.

  2. The clunkiness of the desktop app (actually a Chrome App) is frustrating (you can’t reorder tasks, it doesn’t minimize to the tray).

  3. Google has burnt me and others too many times by shutting down services. While I don’t think Keep will be one of them (it is too much of a data mine for Google to abandon, imho), it still makes me hesitant (though I feel a little more comfortable knowing that my notes are essentially Google Docs, so they’ll still be available even if Keep goes away).

This might be seem strange – but I use this application in tangent with Asana, rather than as a replacement for or alternative to. Asana manages all of my responsibilities, Keep is my “loosey-goosey” form of data collection until it is input into Asana and also a quick reference for tasks I need to do asap.

You can see the web app here. The Android app is available here. The Chrome (desktop) app is here.

OhDontForget: Useful, But Not Perfect.

Oh Don't Forget SMS Remind Service logo.
Oh Don’t Forget SMS Remind Service logo.

Trying to keep track of what I’m supposed to be doing and when is complicated. I’ve gotten much better at it over the years – but I still manage to miss a meeting here or there, forget to pay a bill, or so on. I use Asana, Google Keep, and Google Calendar, along with their integrations into my Galaxy S3 smartphone to keep me going.

But now the question is – how do I keep other people going? I’m in the position of assigning responsibilities to folks – if it is something with an impending deadline, how do I remind them that the deadline is impending without wasting my time? And how do I remind someone if something needs to be done on a certain day or at a certain time of day? These are more difficult questions.

Right now I use a combination of Boomerang and Ohdontforget – neither of which is a perfect tool and both of which I wish would have their functionality integrated into Asana.

So what is On Don’t Forget? Its an SMS reminder service that allows you to schedule an SMS message to be sent to a specified phone number at a specified time and can include the ability to repeat the message on a specified basis.

So, lets say Isaac needs to do something for me tomorrow night at 7 pm, but I know he might forget –  I can use ohdontforget to schedule a SMS reminder to go out to him at 7 pm. This won’t help if he is out of the area, but as long as he is in the area – it is a lifesaver.

The service does cost $5/mo., but I’ve bit the bullet and signed up and have been using it for a few weeks. The biggest feature it doesn’t have that I would like it to have is the ability for individuals to reply back to my initial message with a status update: e.g. CANT, COMPLETED, POSTPONED, etc. Then I should get notified by email or text regarding this update. This way I not only know someone has been reminded, but I can also relax knowing that the task has been done (or make alternative arrangements if it isn’t getting done).

Besides that, I’d also like to see them add the ability to search sent SMS messages, to delete SMS messages en masse (especially sent ones), and to create templated messages. But all of these are fairly minor compared to the ability to receive status updates regarding tasks (and also to auto-kick off a snooze/delete of the reminder once the task is completed).