Springpad – A Second Look

It’s been over a year since we last took a look at Springpad here at Appstorm. To refresh your memory (or for those of you who are new to Springpad), the app is, at heart, a note-taking/bookmarking app. It’s kind of similar to Evernote, or at least it used to be last year. Within Springpad you can save a variety of note types to peruse at your leisure.

This is old news, however, covered in last year’s review. Springpad has since added and improved many features offered within the app. They’ve added a lot of social aspects, done a complete design overhaul and much more. Stick with me to review some Springpad basics, check out what’s new and learn how well the app really works.

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The Basics

Some of you may have tried Springpad before, whether you’re a recent user or have just given it a try at some point. If you belong to this group, you can hop ahead to the next section. If not, now’s a good time to set up a Springpad account to try the app out. Go ahead – click here and sign up with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo or a Springpad account.

Once you’re logged in, take a look around at your notebooks page. This is where you can get started. I’d recommend making a few notebooks for various categories – I have things like recipes, media I want to consume, a wishlist and a notebook for work-related things. When you create a notebook, you can title it, choose a category, add tags, choose a color/pattern scheme and decide how images appear on the cover.

Creating a notebook.

Within the notebook itself, you can start making notes. The variety of note types available is Springpad’s strong suit, I believe. For example, you can save recipes with areas within the note for directions, ingredients, servings and more. You can save movies, books and other products by scanning the barcode or searching directly for the product. The product notes save images, descriptions, prices and where you can buy the product. You can also just make plain notes and checklists if that’s what you need.

Creating a note – choosing from the various note types.

All note types have some similar fields. You can always add tags to categorize notes, add them to a notebook, link back to outside sources and add images. Adding images is pretty convenient – not only can you upload from your computer, you can also just paste the url of any image on the web. It’s nice to not have to download any images in order to add them to the notebook.

Editing a note.

This is just an extremely quick overview of Springpad. You should definitely take some time to explore all that Springpad has to offer you, just from creating some notebooks and notes.

The New Springpad

Creating notes and notebooks is old (but still useful) news. Let’s take a look at some of the features Springpad has added over the past year. First of all, they’ve done a complete design overhaul. The site never looked awful … but it never really looked great, either. With this new design, things are easier to find and navigate, the site moves faster and it just looks a lot better than it ever did before. Other than minor adjustments, the functionality remains the same, but the new design is extremely welcome.

Old Springpad on the left, new Springpad on the right. It definitely looks better these days!

The more important new features of Springpad, however, lie in the new social elements. You may have noticed that you now have the option to make a notebook public or private when you first create it. This is because you can now choose to share your notebook with fellow Springpad users. It’s important to take note of whether your notebooks are public or private. They are public by default, so make sure any notebooks for things like work and such are private.

Let’s explore the social features a bit. They are quite similar to the main features that Pinterest has to offer. If you want to look around but not interact, I’d recommend checking out the explore tab. From here you can look at other user’s public notebooks. You can explore by category, tag or simply take a look at some of the more popular notebooks and notes.

The explore tab.

If you really want to get into the social aspects, however, you’ve got to start interacting with other users and their notes. Let’s take a look at someone else’s notebook. When you click on another user’s notebook, you’re taken to the screen where you get the opportunity to look at an overview of all the notes within the notebook. You can also check out some details about the user who created the notebook from this page.

Another user’s notebook.

If you really want to get into the social realm, you can start to “spring” other user’s notes. When you spring a note, you tag it as you wish and add it to one of your personal notebooks. You can also choose to interact with individual notes in other ways, namely by leaving a comment or liking the note.

Someone else’s note.

Another, solid way to get some social interaction in is via the following tab. Any notebooks or users that you choose to follow are displayed here. Assuming you find some great users to follow, it’s a great way to ensure you’re seeing quality content.

The following page.

Lastly, if you want some social interaction and don’t mind other people touching your stuff, you can add other users to your notebooks. They can view and contribute the notebook. This has great potential for work and other group projects.

Springpad Tools

The tools provided by Springpad are worth a quick mention, as they’ve undergone the same design overhaul as the rest of the site. First of all, there is a great browser extension available. The extension (a smart extension) makes a concerted effort to gauge the type of web page you’re saving, in order to provide you with the appropriate type of note. For example, if the extension detects a recipe on the page it defaults to a recipe note, rather than just a simple bookmark. The extension generally works pretty well, and it makes adding notes far more convenient.

The browser extension.

There are also some great mobile apps for Springpad, part of the reason that I like the web app as much as I do. I have the app installed on both my iPhone and iPad and it’s great (the app is also available for Android). The design and interface are quite similar, I can access my notes, add notes and check out the social aspects all within the app. The iPhone app is especially helpful for me as it allows me to easily scan barcodes in order to save books and products that I see in my everyday life. I can then add the product to my wishlist and be done. It makes Springpad even more convenient.

The iPad app – incredibly similar to the web app, as is the iPhone app and Android app.

Should You Use Springpad?

As you’ve gathered, Springpad has a lot of functionality similar to other apps out there. You can create notebooks full of plain text notes, clip webpages, “spring” posts and more. It’s got a little Evernote, a little Pinterest and some totally unique features. The question is, should you start using Springpad? I think it depends upon your situation.

Springpad has some really great stuff going for it – it’s wonderfully designed. The image based notebooks look amazing, especially when you have a whole notebook full of quality images. The sheer number of note types is also great – I love having special notes for books, events, recipes and more. The tools provided by Springpad to assist the web experience are fantastic as well. I use the app several times a day on my phone, as well as using the site.

There are a few negatives, though. The social aspects can get a little confusing at times. It’s hard to make sure that things that should be private stay private. The notebooks default to public, but I wish they defaulted to private. I’d much rather choose to share a notebook when I’m ready than accidentally share something I shouldn’t because I forgot to switch to private.

Writing basic notes also isn’t quite as easy as it used to be. Springpad used to be a bit simpler. While I love most of the new things that they’ve added, I miss being able to just write a note and not have to worry about adjusting a bunch of settings.

That being said, I’m definitely sticking to Springpad for a lot of what I save. Products, recipes, notes, checklists – they’re all going into Springpad. I’ll probably continue to supplement with a few other services, but when it comes to saving information, Springpad is where it’s at for me. I don’t really have any major complaints, just a few little picky things. The new design and social aspects have, in my opinion, made Springpad an even stronger application.

So do any of you utilize Springpad? What do you think of the new features? Do you like Springpad better now or back in the day, before the social aspects? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Save notes, bookmarks, lists, products and more all while socializing with Springpad.