evernote

Skepticism about Evernote’s new announcement

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 9.34.29 AM.png

As you probably know, I have been a huge advocate for Evernote in my book, clinics, and numerous podcasts. If you know that, you might also know that I have been looking for a replacement for it for years now. 

Evernote’s future has been unclear to me for a number of years now. While they have managed to keep their apps up to date with the latest iOS features, no major new features have been added to the platform in recent memory. Yet the company has raised prices, removed features from the free tier, and had some other small missteps. 

Yesterday, Evernote unveiled this post on their site. Its a followup to this post from earlier in the year. I thought the post from earlier in the year was a load of meaningless corporate and marketing speak, but today’s really takes the cake. And don’t even get me started on the post within today’s post that goes on and on for paragraphs about redesigning the app’s Elephant mascot, amongst other things. Dropbox tried this exact kind of thing earlier in the year where they make a huge rebrand announcement that is all graphic design and marketing fluff without any meat about how it will impact the user experience. And it hasn’t changed anything about how Dropbox is actually used other than making the user interface more difficult to understand in some places.

Like, really, Dropbox. In this limited space, could you seriously not think of any more information I might want to see while playing back an audio file other than this dude dancing next to a disco ball? This particular page is even worse on the small screen of an iPhone.

Like, really, Dropbox. In this limited space, could you seriously not think of any more information I might want to see while playing back an audio file other than this dude dancing next to a disco ball? This particular page is even worse on the small screen of an iPhone.

To me, yesterday’s blog posts are further proof that Evernote does not have a clear vision for how to make their products better for users. The community has been very clear about what they want from the company. A better redesigned Mac app, markdown support, and code blocks, to name a few. But rather than disclose a roadmap of user facing product improvements, Evernote seems only committed to blowing steam through the use of fancy graphic design, photography, and web design. If only they put all of that time and money into actual features that would make users lives better. 

So I think this is the final straw. I am going to let my Evernote subscription lapse this fall when it comes to a close. The real challenge about this situation for me, and other Evernote users, is that it is the most fully featured note app on the market. Of all the things one might want from a note app, Evernote covers more of them than any of the competition. But unfortunately for Evernote, stock software like Apple Notes is good enough to do most of the things people need. And for those who want more, there is an emerging bunch of independent developers making note apps who show way more hustle, adding major features to their apps, annually (Bear, for example).

Apple Notes does such a nice job with simple text scraps, web clippings, and check lists, that the only primary use of Evernote I need to replace once my subscription lapses is the “everything bucket” use case. “Everything bucket” is the phrase I use to describe the dumping of PDFs, images, emails, and websites into a digital “drawer” so to speak, where I can later search these documents by the text within them. 

This summer I have been giving DEVONthink a try. It is a Mac and iOS app that is a one time paid purchase on each device. It is a document management app that has all of the “everything bucket" features of Evernote and more. I hope to write more on it soon. For now, I am pretty happy that I have an easy way to clip receipts, websites for later review, and emails, and have them made automatically text searchable. The DEVONthink app on Mac is hideous, and setting up iCloud sync took me a minute, but the utility of the app is worth it so far. I prefer something like this rather than to continue to support companies who string their customers along while they spend time and money on making their elephant mascot look more 2018. 

I may be wrong. Evernote could come out with a killer set of new features in the next 12 months, convincing me and the rest of the world to return to it. I’ll believe it when I see it. 

 

App of the Week: Scanbot (and Scanner Pro)

This week’s App of the Week is Scanbot

As years pass, I solidify my mainstay productivity apps. I might try 100 todo or scanner apps, but many of the ones I depend on have been on my home screen for years. For a very long time, Readdle’s Scanner Pro was my scanner app of choice for getting documents and sheet music from the real world into my digital database. Scanbot has recently come to challenge it. 

Rather than explain all of the features, I have simply embedded a quick screencast below that shows it off. Both Scanner Pro and Scanbot allow the user to very quickly get paper into their phone, make the text searchable, neaten up the edges, and prepare the document for sharing. Both apps make it easy to customize ways to send finished documents to specific locations in your file system. Scanner Pro does this through custom workflows and Scanbot does it by remembering my most commonly saved locations in my iCloud and Google Drive (you can see this on the last screen of the screencast). But Scanbot has a few nice touches that ultimately push me over the edge, especially considering how tedious scanning documents with a phone can be...

Getting the final scan into a particular location is smoother for me in Scanbot because it always has my most recently saved locations one tap away. I also really like the way that when selecting the edges of the paper, Scanbot has handles that drag an entire edge, whereas Scanner Pro only has handles in the four corners. Notice in the video how Scanbot even detects the edge when I get close and automatically snaps to the edge of the page. Note that both of these apps have an automatic mode that detects the edges for you and bypasses this step. I just wanted to demo the neat snapping feature in the video.

Both apps also create a folder in iCloud Drive that will automatically save all snapped documents so that you can instantly run over to another device like your Mac and get to your new files.

Scanner Pro does have a few unique features. First, its custom workflows are very powerful and can do multiple things with your finished PDF (for example: save a document to Evernote with specific tags, add it to a specific folder in Dropbox, and email it to a coworker all in one tap). Second, it can scan your camera roll for things that look like documents (maybe a business card or a page you shot on your camera in a hurry) and transform them into PDFs on the spot. Third, it integrates with Readdle's other great productivity apps, like PDF Expert

Check out these awesome scanning apps and level up your digital organization!

TMEA Session Notes - “Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers” and “Working with Digital Scores”

I am thrilled to be presenting at TMEA again this year. Both of my sessions, “Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers” and “Working with Digital Scores” will be taking place on February 17th, at 8 am and 11 am, respectively.

Here are the session notes:

Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers

Working with Digital Scores

MMEA Session Notes - Working With Digital Scores

Tomorrow I will be presenting at the Maryland Music Educators Association's Fall Conference. The session I am presenting is all about Working with Digital Scores. I will be covering file management, scanning, and score reading software such as forScore. I am also going to be digging in to some of the new iPad productivity features that shipped with iOS 11 last month. If you are going to be at the conference, come say hi!

Here are the session notes for the session...

Click here to view the session notes in Evernote!

 

Working with Digital Scores Session Notes - Robby Burns - MMEA In Service, October 20, 2017

Apps for Scanning:

Apple Notes App

Evernote Scannable 

Scanner Pro

Tiny Scanner

NotateMe

Sheet Music Scanner

 

Apps for Managing Files:

Files App

Dropbox

Google Drive

Documents

Evernote

 

Apps for Working with Scores:

forScore

unReal Book

Newzik

Scorch

Notion

 

Notes on forScore:

Link to my blog post on creating indexes with forScore

 

My Book:

Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Oxford University Press

View the video trailer

 

About Me:

Robby Burns

Twitter | Blog | Podcast | Email

Announcing My First Book ---> Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers!

I am excited to announce that I am writing a book!

Actually, I already wrote it. Oxford University Press will publish the book, "Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers," this Fall. It will be the first title in the series, "Essential Music Technology: The Prestissimo Series" with series editor, Richard McCready.

The book will focus on how technology can help rather than stifle productivity in the music teaching profession. It will address such topics as: minimizing paper, managing tasks, taking good notes, organizing iTunes playlists, understanding music streaming services, working in the cloud, and managing scores. The book will provide an overview of the apps and services I have found most useful in my teaching experience. It will include sample workflows for using these technologies in music teaching contexts.

Stay tuned to this site for more information. The blog has been quiet this year as I have spent more time writing the book. Upon release, I plan to write posts of a supplementary nature. I also plan to do a miniseries on my podcast that offers commentary on the book. I will be inviting many insightful guests on the show to discuss a different chapter each episode.

I also have a really fun video trailer in the works featuring some brilliant acting talent from my colleagues in the Howard County Public School System and some awesome editing work from the guys over at Four/Ten Media.

I hope you will pick up a copy when it is released.