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Ever wished Evernote had a simpler, easier-to navigate Web interface? Your wish has been granted. Evernote Web just had a makeover, and it appears refreshingly zen in its latest avatar.
In his keynote address at the EC4 conference of 2nd Oct, 2014 in San Francisco, Evernote CEO, Phil Libin, revealed the redesign of its flagship app, Evernote Web, and a few other interesting developments besides.
Before we get around to discussing the revamp, here’s how you can try the new interface firsthand, for free. Click on the notification that comes up when you log into the web app. Alternatively, navigate to Account Settings in Evernote Web and click on Get the beta. You can expect the complete version of the app by fall.
Here’s how the Web client looks in its current, soon-to-be-defunct setting.
And here’s how it will look, ideally, a few months from now.
It’s apparent at first glance that the overhaul has been dramatic. The three-column notes arrangement has morphed into a clean, centrally placed single column for your notes (as you can see in the image above). There are wide margins on either side, which might be a tad annoying on widescreen monitors. A minimal sidebar holds a handful of shortcuts, including links to your notebooks, tags, and search.
When you select a note, its contents are displayed right alongside the notes column, with a less cramped feel to them than before. The contents of the notebook, tag, and shortcut sections appear as a neat sliding overlay on top of the existing view. Creating, starring, tagging, and deleting notes is still easy as can be.
In the distraction-free mode, the note view appears as an almost-blank, white surface that’ll make you want to start typing. The sidebar melts away and your writing takes center stage. Options for selecting a notebook, creating a tag, setting a url, and sharing the note are still visible, but are faded out and rest discreetly at the top. So you’re left alone with your ideas and words, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, there’s still no Markdown support, which means you have to look to third-party apps like Marxico to use Markdown with Evernote.
Additional formatting options have been added to the mix. You can now attach files, strike through text, clear formatting, and add subscripts and superscripts. Typing a url automatically turns it into a link.
The fonts, the colors, the buttons — all of these elements are definitely an improvement over their existing counterparts.
What Has Disappeared?
The beta version lacks quite a few of Evernote’s classic features, including stacks, saved searches, reminders, and nested tags. You also cannot open a note in a new window. The image gallery feature and tooltips for certain elements seem to be missing as well.
If you feel like saying “off with her head” right about now, hold on. I’m just the messenger and this is still the beta version. Those features are important enough to make a comeback in the final version. If they don’t, then you can get mad.
Want to switch back to the regular version from the beta? You can do that from Account Settings.
What Does A Rebuilt Evernote Mean For You?
If you use the desktop or mobile apps for accessing your Evernote account, you’ll wonder what the fuss is all about. Nothing’s changed there. Incidentally, Evernote for Android was recently ported to Chrome OS (the Chrome OS version of Evernote).
If you have been an Evernote user for a long time and are a fan of the web app, it’s likely that you’ll have mixed feelings about the revamp. You’ll have to adjust your workflow a bit. You might harrumph at some of the changes you don’t like, and get excited about those that you do. You might miss (or even be angry about) some of your pet features, which could be MIA only from the beta or gone for good. Once you get used to the new version, let’s hope you come to appreciate the lighter, friendlier interface as Evernote predicts:
This is a dramatic re-imagining of Evernote Web. It’s no longer a second choice, but rather a destination for the creative mind. It’s the workspace that you’ll rely on when you simply need to work. No distractions. No interruptions. Just focus.
If, like me, you have been staying away from Evernote mainly due to its confusing, bloated setup, you’re likely to benefit the most from this change. The new interface looks fresh and inviting, and feels like a huge step in the right direction.
As a replacement for Evernote, Simplenote is good—precisely for its simplicity—and so are some of the alternatives to Simplenote. Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote are also doing well for themselves. But Evernote, the app that started it all, is still doing great and is still one of people’s favorite note-taking apps. With this new, streamlined interface, Evernote seems to have made its position stronger.
It has some excellent features and apps weaved into a single ecosystem. Think Evernote Web Clipper and Evernote Clearly. With the sheer number of apps made for/integrated with Evernote, having an account there opens up a whole world of possibilities. Aaron shows you why Evernote is a must-have, and Nancy lists some creative uses for Evernote. For starters, you could use it to:
Now is the right time to take the Evernote plunge, if you haven’t already done that.
What Else Is Brewing At Evernote?
Two more major offerings lined up by Evernote are Context and Work Chat.
You can think of Context as Evernote meets Feedly meets Rapportive, which is to say that it brings you whatever’s relevant to your current project. With its smart algorithms, it fuels and strengthens your research by sifting through your notes, networks, and top news sources to ensure that you get the most useful information without having to search for it. Context will be a Premium feature. If you’re getting good value out of Evernote, it might worth investing in its reasonably priced Premium version.
Work Chat is your collaborative digital workspace – an attempt to prevent work-related emails from hijacking your inbox. It allows teams to share ideas, compare notes, give and receive feedback — all from within the comfort of Evernote. That’s just scratching the surface. Read Evernote’s blog update about Work Chat to learn more about what the app can do and how it will help you.
The release of a mobile app called Scannable and the rebuilding of Penultimate for iPad are also in the pipeline. A Presentation mode that can create Powerpoint-like presentations from your Evernote data is also something you can look forward to. It is available as a premium feature in the desktop and mobile versions.
Thumbs Up Or Thumbs Down?
Getting acquainted with Evernote’s extensive feature set is like learning a new language altogether. But the effort sure seems to be worth it. With the clunky interface out of the way, you can focus on taking advantage of what Evernote does best — recording what’s on your mind and organizing what’s in your life.
A good interface should stay out of your way and keep you unaware that you’re interacting with it. I, for one, think Evernote achieves that with this redesign.
The other soon-to-be-released apps and features also look quite promising, but as of now we can only speculate on the outcome of their execution.
Whether these cumulative changes across Evernote will make you use it more avidly or jump ship is uncertain. Only time will tell. In the meantime, take the new Evernote Web for a test drive.
What do you think of Evernote’s new avatar? Have your say in the comments.