It was only about a week ago that Evernote teased an update to Evernote for iOS, with a new interface being one of the main features. Now Evernote 5 is finally here, and I took it for a spin. Here are my initial impressions after fiddling with it for less than a day.
I use Evernote on:
- iPhone 4
- MacBook Pro 13
- Windows 8 desktop
I wouldn’t consider myself a extremely heavy Evernote user, but I do use it several times a day, every day. My main uses for it would be to manage my tasks, read articles that I’ve clipped, and organising some of the information that I collect from the Internet for later use.
The most noticeable feature Evernote 5, regardless of whether you’ve been using the previous version or not, is the interface. It has a rather radical user interface, organising different sections into tabs that can be dragged (or tapped if you wish) to fill the whole screen. In terms of aesthetics, I think it looks great, it’s a pretty elegant way to switch between the different tabs, and a noticeable improvement from the previous version.
I noticed that Evernote has also moved the search bar to the top of the list, which is a common design style in mobile apps and one that I certainly welcome.
Of course, the practical part of me has to mention that a functionally similar interface could be achieved using the common iOS sidebar that has been used in many apps, such as Facebook and Gmail. A minor nitpick I did have was the animation for the tabs to expand and fill the screen (or contract) takes a fraction longer than I’d like. If you don’t switch between tabs often, it’s not a big deal, but if you’re trying to do several things, it’ll probably irritate you slightly. I’m not sure if the animation speed is deliberate to make it look good, or whether it’s just that the animation needs more processing power, though I do suspect it’s the former.
I also noticed that the sync button on the upper right is quite confusing. It lights up a little when I press it, though it doesn’t spin to indicate if it’ synchronising my notes or not, and since the visual difference between it lighting up and not is marginal, it’s hard to know whether it has finished synchronising or is still in the process of it the next time you glance at it. All they had to do was make the icon rotate while it was synchronising to be honest.
Having the tabbed interface also has one extra benefit for Evernote, because the premium features tab is now displays prominently at the top of the tab stack, which should help drive the subscriptions of the premium service. I subscribe to the premium service mainly to have access to offline notebooks when I’m traveling.
With this new update, Evernote has also introduced the Places tab, which shows you a map, indicating where you created each note. Though I assume there are some inaccuracies, as the picture above shows a note created over in the UK. I’m pretty sure the last time I was in the UK, Evernote didn’t exist yet.
One major gripe that has been addressed in this version is the issue of adding photos to notes. In previous versions, you had to manually add pictures one at a time to a note. If you throw in the fact that the photo selector would load with the oldest photo first (as opposed to the newest photo, which is more common), adding photos to Evernote on iOS was a major pain. Now you can select multiple photos and add them to a note at once. It certainly took a long time coming, but it’s finally here, and it works great.
Evernote has made it easier to quickly create a blank note, note from camera, and a note from a snap of a paper notebook, though I’d prefer to trade the last one for a button for a new note from an existing picture. If you’re using the iPad version, your last three notes are also displayed at the top of the app, making it easy to access your recent notes.
All in all, this is a really good update from Evernote, fixing some issues I previously had, such as the uploading of photos, and improving the overall user experience. With this, Evernote takes a nice step forward, and hopefully the more users will check it out. The good news is that Evernote 5 for Mac is also on the way. In case you didn’t notice, yes, I like Evernote a lot.