Online Notebook Smackdown: Evernote Vs. Springpad

4/16/10Follow @wroush

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partnering with brands who buy targeted ads that show up alongside your notes. If you’ve just saved a Consumer Reports article about circular saws, for example, the ad slots on your note page are going to be pretty attractive to Lowe’s or Home Depot.

2. Once information is in Springpad, it’s even more useful than it was before. Once it’s in Evernote, it just kinda sits there (with one important exception). This is probably the most fundamental difference between the two services. The folks at Spring Partners have built software that enhances your notes with relevant information. Say you’re creating a note about a restaurant where you might want to eat: Springpad will recognize that and automatically include a link to ratings and reviews on Yelp. Making a note from a movie review you saw online? Springpad will show you movie times and link to the DVD on Netflix or Amazon. Evernote, on the other hand, figures that users just want to save stuff, so its interface is solely optimized for copying Web content or local files to the cloud-based system, then searching or accessing them. It doesn’t seek out related information: what you upload is what you get. (The exception is in the area of search. One of Evernote’s selling points is its automatic optical character recognition software, which analyzes photos and PDFs for text and indexes the notes based on what it finds. So if you upload a scan or a snapshot of a business card or a tax return, you’ll be able to find it later from Evernote’s search window.)

3. Evernote has dedicated software for Windows and Mac; Springpad is a pure Web service. If you install the Windows or Mac versions of Evernote on your computer, you can store copies of all of your Web-based notes locally, which means you don’t have to have an Internet connection to access them. But if you’re always plugged in or within Wi-Fi range, it doesn’t make much difference.

Evernote's Web interface4. Both Evernote and Springpad have nifty mobile apps. Evernote launched an iPhone app in December 2008 and an Android app in December 2009. Springpad came out with an iPhone app last month and will release an Android version in May. I’ve used both apps on the iPhone and they’re pretty good for capturing or reviewing notes when you’re away from your computer. Both let you snap and upload photos. The Springpad app’s two coolest features are the local search, which lets you find and then make notes about nearby stores and restaurants based on your current location, and the barcode scanner, which lets you take a picture of the barcode on almost any product, then automatically retrieves information about that product and makes it into a note. The Evernote app includes a built-in voice memo recorder that lets you make audio notes that are up to 20 minutes in length. (The Evernote app is particularly beautiful on an iPad, and I’m told that an iPad version of Springpad is in the works.)

5. Evernote is a medium-sized, well-funded Silicon Valley startup; Springpad is smaller and scrappier. Last November, Evernote secured $10 million in new venture funding from … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • http://www.nookl.com noklpopl

    I have tested both and must say, that they are not very user friendly. It has to be easier since most of the internet users are idiots.. :-)

  • Maxwell Jones

    You forgot Evernote’s terms of condition that states you give them your content basically. Springpad’s is more reasonable.

    In section 5:
    “Accordingly, by using the Service and posting Content, you grant Evernote a license to display, perform and distribute your Content, and to modify and reproduce such Content to enable Evernote to operate and promote the Service. (You also agree that Evernote has the right to elect not to accept, post, store, display, publish or transmit any Content in our sole discretion.) You agree that these rights and licenses are royalty free, irrevocable and worldwide, and include a right for Evernote to make such Content available to, and pass these rights along to, others with whom Evernote has contractual relationships related to the provision of the Evernote Service, solely for the purpose of providing such services, and to otherwise permit access to your Content to third parties if Evernote determines such access is necessary to comply with its legal obligations.”

    • Jonathan Hernandez

      Wow this is a Huge deal breaker. Thank you for piinting thus out. I put some personal stuff and ideas on there.

  • michael

    I like both and trying to figure out how to keep them separate, for example, Evernote for snap shots and SpringPad for text. However, Evernote has a big advantage, in my opinion, in the desktop app. There are many times I do not have internet access. We just moved to a new house and would have been dead in the water had it not been for Evernote’s desktop app. The OCR and voice recording capabilities are also a plus. Springpad has a plus (in addition to its smart content) in that it also handles tasks. But both need a way to DUMP the data for printing.

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  • James

    “Springpad is free forever” Don’t overlook that there’s a big “beta” symbol when you sign in. Like Skitch, the revenue scheme might prove surprising down the road.

  • mike012003

    I recently started using Evernote and its “free” storage space is severely limited. I have over 4000 pics on my iphone and have used only half the iphone capacity. I uploaded 166 pics from the iphone to Evernote, used 99% of Evernote upload capacity and recieved a warning notice that Evernote utilization would be restricted until the next cycle. From a practical standpoint Evernotes data restriction allows only 2% utilization of my iphones capacity per month. With this strict data limitation, it is more functional to use my iphone, ipad, and laptops and “Forget Evernote”.

  • Hassayampa_Slim

    mike012003 doesn’t say how long it took him to get the 4000 pics on his iPhone… Now, he expects to upload all of them to the cloud. He should have been using and uploading as he went along and not wait until he has an unreasonable amount of data. He’s also using the “free” version, which has a lower monthly upload limit. Use it for what it’s designed, and pay for premium service if you have large data needs, and I think you’ll find both Evernote and Springpad usable programs.

  • http://dangoldesq.wordpress.com Daniel Gold

    Wade – great post! I’m sure you’ve seen that Springpad has really amped up their services since the date of your review. I completely agree with you, as the question really becomes: what do I need a “remember everything” digital filing cabinet for anyway? Is it to have as a reference file to go back to later and quickly find it because of tags or do I need my notes to “do something” – like link with 3rd party websites like Amazon, etc? I recently put together a comparison on my site and would love to get your feedback! http://wp.me/ptgV6-bf. Thanks!!

  • http://www.zukmo.com/ Chris Jones

    Wade, thanks for this article! You’ve provided a terrific, very well thought-out comparison of Evernote and Springpad which clearly explains why both products have the ability to coexist (they’re both actually targeting quite different market segments).

    I actually work for a company called Zukmo (http://www.zukmo.com/) and we’re developing a cloud based app that’s really gaining some traction in the same broad market (http://www.zukmo.com). It already has a lot of features as an alpha release, but in a few months it’s slated to be a fully fledged information management app with mobile platforms and content management/collaborative features unlike anything currently available on the market. We love hearing from people with a high level of exposure to the information management industry, so if you were to pick a few features, specific or general, which make an cloud-based information management tool an absolute must-have, what would they be and why? We would really love to hear what you have to say!

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