Simplenote started out as a plain text notes app on the iPhone, one that was pretty breathtaking compared to the iOS Notes app and early contenders on the App Store. With its slightly skeuomorphic web app and fast sync with native apps on other platforms like the popular Notational Velocity and its forks, it became the notes app of choice for many of us. Yet, it started to grow a tad long in the tooth. Its parent company, Simperium, used Simplenote’s sync technology to help other developers sync data from their apps, and that took the focus away from the less profitable notes app.
Then early this year, Automattic — WordPress.com’s parent company — announced that they’d bought out Simperium and planned to make Simplenote better than ever. Their first investment into the app was giving it the domain name it deserved — Simplenote.com — but the app updates took a bit longer. But they were worth the wait. This fall’s brought a brand-new Simplenote for Mac app that was the first app to use the iOS 7 flat design on the Mac, as well as a redesigned Simplenote for iOS and Android with a similar beautifully clean UI.
And now, that same new design has finally reached Simplenote’s web app. Just head over to app.simplenote.com, login with your account, and you’ll see the same beautifully clean UI with your notes ready to search, view, and edit right in the cloud.
There’s little new in the new Simplenote, other than the new design. Everything else works the very same as before: you can search through your notes, share notes by adding your collaborator’s email address as a tag, format notes with Markdown, and even publish them online (though that seems to not be working just yet). It’s once again the nicest plain text notes app in the cloud. And, its new distinctive flat UI makes it look the most like an iOS 7 app on the web than anything else we’ve used other than the new iCloud web apps. It’s nice, clean, and still works great. And with the new apps, you can use Simplenote everywhere without needing 3rd party apps: on the web, iOS, Android, and the Mac.
The original plain text notes app is back and better than ever, and we couldn’t be happier. Be sure to try it out!
Bookmarks are far from dead. They’re built into every browser, sync with our mobile devices, and for the most part just work. And yet, there’s more ways than ever to get around using the traditional bookmarks.
Take reading services. They’re essentially ways to bookmark stuff you want to read later, with the added advantage of automatically saving the page so you can read the article in one tap. Then there’s note-taking apps, the likes of Evernote and others, that let you clip parts of sites you come across to pull up later in your own private library of Internet wisdom. You’ve also got the various favoriting and liking in any number of apps, from RSS readers to news apps, that let you keep up with stuff you might want to come back and check later. And don’t forget the online bookmarking services, ranging from the private to the social, where you can save bookmarks in a way very similar to the bookmarks in your browser.
You know what’s the worst thing? When we’re looking for something, most of the time we simply Google it instead of checking our bookmarks or notes.
It’s all a bit too much. I use a mix of local bookmarks (mainly for bookmarklets), reading services (instead of saving bookmarks I’ll want to revisit precisely once), and note taking tools — but lately have shifted away from normal bookmarking in Pinboard since it just doesn’t seem that I’m getting much benefit out of yet another bookmarking place. Saving a note, though, often means I’ve got the info without opening the site again, and that’s nice.
How about you? How do you save online info these days, and do you still keep a meticulous list of bookmarks? We’d love to hear how you bookmark in 2013 in the comments below.
Box is one of those enterprise-focused startups that’s never made tons of sense from a consumer perspective. They’ve offered generous amounts of free storage just for signing in with their mobile apps, but that’s never been enough to get most of us to move away from Dropbox — especially since, originally, their desktop sync app wasn’t included for free. That hans’t stopped them from being the document sync tool of choice for many businesses, where the clunky UI didn’t matter as much as did the security and syncing features.
Then, there’s the apps, that great equalizer that stands to make or break any platform. Most of our consumer mobile apps are integrated with Dropbox, not Box, but on the web, Box has a solid library of apps that let it do much more than just sync files. It’s had a basic office-type app for some time now, along with a Mac and PC app that syncs Office document changes in real-time. But now, it’s going even further, with a brand new app aimed to compete in the collabortive writing space that’s taking off this year.
With Microsoft’s former Office VP Steven Sinofsky now on the Box team, it seems they’re more than ready to take on Microsoft — as well as Google and other online collaboration tools. And this time, they’ve got an app that looks nice enough, it’ll likely attract more than just enterprise customers.
Recent statistics show that Chrome is solidly in third place in the “browser wars”. Perhaps the main reason for Chrome’s rapid growth over the past four plus years is the Chrome Web Store. The plethora of extensions and apps available for Chrome packaged in an accessible online store has enticed many users to make the switch.
I recently switched back to Chrome specifically for the productivity extensions. There were a few extensions I couldn’t live without and some I recently encountered having a good ol’ time perusing the Web Store. The result is a set of 15 extremely handy productivity extensions for Chrome. So, in some kind of order, here they are…
The online education field is rapidly expanding. There are old warhorses like Khan Academy, new educators like Coursera, and universities getting into the game, like MIT’s OpenCourseWare and CalTech’s many online courses. Indeed, you can actually consider getting a full education on the web, maybe even for free.
But while the “classroom” is going online, the tools we use to study often aren’t reflecting the changes. As a student, you are watching a video on a screen, and that makes it difficult to take notes and share them with your classmates — unless you want to go back to writing your notes on paper.
That’s where VideoNot.es comes in. It’s an online notepad designed to make it simple to take notes from your online lectures. It’s one of the few apps designed specifically for distance learners, and if you’re taking a course online, you should be sure to check it out.
So I made the jump and decided to go back to school for a second time, after I told myself I would never do more school when I graduated college. This time though, it is so different than when I went to college and when I got my Master’s. For one, I have a family and, two, I am also working full time. I knew I had to stay disciplined and get organized so that I could get through school and still enjoy my family and job.
I came across a web app called StudyBlue a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it a try to see how I could possibly incorporate it into my life. They take the concept of the physical binder and turn it into a digital one, at least that is the best way that I can kind of explain it in a nutshell. One of the things you find is when you are a student is that you get so many papers to keep track of that, if you are not organized, you can easily lose a few.
Let me show you how StudyBlue tries to help solve this problem.
In my line of work, I am constantly taking notes during meetings, phone calls, and any other random time I can think about. I get a lot of information thrown at me all the time, and unless I write it down, I tend to lose it. Then, there are a lot of important things that are said and I need to make sure I document them for later use.
I have tried many different ways to capture all of this info and have not found something that I liked. I started out with the plain paper and pen route, and although that is reliable, I wanted to use something where I could access it at any time. Besides, I type faster than I can write. I tried to use a variety of note taking applications on my Mac and iPad and found most of them just okay, and nothing that really stood out for me.
One app that I always seem to come back to is Evernote. I like that I can access it from just about anywhere and that it is integrated with other apps. So a little while back, I was searching through the Evernote Trunk to see if there were any cool, new apps to try out, and to my delight, I stumbled upon one that seemed to address my note taking needs. The app is called KustomNote and it it is a great note taking app that connects with your Evernote account, making it even better for taking quick notes.
Apple’s hardware and software releases have become global news events, something even non-techies know about. Practically everyone that is any bit informed about the phone industry at all knows Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 this week, enough so that its already sold out in preorders. Yet it’s a slightly unknown fact that Apple makes some very nice web apps for iCloud, ones that bring many of its well known native apps to any browser.
This past week, right along with unveiling new hardware and iOS software, Apple also upgraded its iCloud web apps. They’ve now finally dropped their beta tag, and gained the new Notes and Reminders apps that have become standard parts of iOS and OS X. Let’s take a look.