With the growing desire to capture information and access it later in a simple manner, a problem yet to be solved has come up: organization. Organizing our digital lives can be a tough procedure, but thankfully many services are available out there to help us take control of our data. Evernote is one of them, which makes note-taking simple and intuitive. Evernote allows you to create text notes, take snapshots, record audio notes and upload files. Once synchronized with the Evernote server, you may access your notes wherever you are and whenever you need them. With a Web interface and applications available for the PC and Mac as well as BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and Palm webOS, Evernote has you always covered. But how well does the BlackBerry application perform? Read on to find out!
Evernote for BlackBerry is available on BlackBerry App World, which currently is the only official method for retrieving the application. This practically makes Evernote for BlackBerry out of reach for many of us, who otherwise can not or are not willing to use BlackBerry App World. Previously the application could be obtained as an OTA (over-the-air) download from links provided in a blog post in the official Evernote blog: http://blog.evernote.com/2009/05/12/blackberry-direct-download/. After trying the download link provided in the aforementioned blog post, my BlackBerry device came back with an 404 HTTP error request. I took the liberty to contact Evernote about this and here is the response I received from them:
Currently Evernote Blackberry is only supported on various carriers. If you don't have access to Appworld, or our program does not show in Appworld (or shows, but does not offer a download option), this means your phone or carrier are not on the supported list.
We have found that if you are on an unsupported carrier, or using an unsupported phone, there is little chance our current offering will operate for you.
You should still be able to access your notes on the BB browser by signing in at www.evernote.com.
As always, Premium users can request a direct download link; however, we will be unable to provide any real support, and it is unlikely to work 100%. We will continue to expand our supported carriers in time, and hope we can support your setup in the future.
Giving it a second thought I came to the conclusion that there is no technical reason for Evernote to take down the OTA download option. After investigating a little I found this rather interesting reply to a thread in the Evernote User Forum posted by an Evernote employee: http://forum.evernote.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=15454&p=64339#p69760. It turns out that Evernote for BlackBerry may be obtained OTA and unsupported simply equals no technical support. These findings clash with the claims in the e-mail I received from Evernote Support. Nevertheless whether BlackBerry App World or OTA download, installation is simple and setting up an account for Evernote takes only a few steps.
The application features a very clean and nice user interface. Not only easy on the eyes, but getting around the application is easy too. Once authenticated with the Evernote server, the application will present a home screen with the options to create a text note, take a snapshot, record an audio note and upload a file. At the bottom there also is a search function to be found for searching existing notes using keywords. The menu is simple and allows one to quickly access important features such as recent and pending notes. On top of this there is Wi-Fi connectivity along with GPS support for geotagging notes.
My experience was not that joyful, though. Disappointingly some of the more important functions launch the BlackBerry Browser and direct one to the Evernote mobile interface. In addition to this, the audio note recorder and file upload function refused to work on my BlackBerry Storm2. All these issues really left me wondering as to why Evernote have released a partially functioning application to the public. On the bright side it seems that Evernote are aware of the issues and are working on a complete overhaul of the BlackBerry application. Hopefully it won't take long before we see an updated application addressing the issues I experienced.
Evernote as a platform is excellent, but on the BlackBerry front has little to bring on the table. I was vastly disappointed with the way the application performed on my BlackBerry. I really hope Evernote will correct the issues in the current application and integrate all the features into the application (i.e. without directing the user to the Evernote mobile interface through the BlackBerry Browser). In addition to this it seems that BlackBerry users have been left behind lacking offline viewing and note editing capabilities; both features available on competing mobile platforms.
I have been looking for alternatives to Evernote and could not come up with anything that was either better or supported as many platforms as Evernote. One possible alternative I found was to use social networking sites. Although limited to 140 characters, I found Twitter to be quite handy for quickly jotting down some notes or creating shopping lists for example. This approach does not come without limitations, though: the increased complexity in separating private and public information and the nature of the service itself not intended for note-taking in the first place make it a rather poor performer in the field. Maintaining a personal blog could also be a viable alternative to Evernote.
To sum it all up my expectations were not met and if I had to rate the application, I would give it two out of five stars only, which I believe given the current state of the application is fair. However, I would be more than happy to give Evernote a second chance and make this review anew once an updated and better application for the BlackBerry platform is available.
** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **