This is reflective of my own personal experience over the last four weeks and will be kept updated as I go along. This is definitely not a complex go-to comparison chart - there are enough of those for you to Google.
Someone has to say it: Evernote is truly bloated for a significant section of its userbase, who I have to accuse of being lazy to go through each alternative and make that move.
Don’t get me wrong - Evernote is really, really powerful. It just has gone from our favorite note-keeping app to everyone’s personal/work management app. Notes? Evernote. Lists? Evernote. Work chat? Evernote. Collaborative editing? You see the pattern? Not all of us necessarily need work chat, or collaborative editing, or any of those features.
The good stuff
No-Frills UX: Bang. A consideration if you’re distracted easily by the myriad of options on your screen and like to focus on what the task is. Everything is big and crude, but not necessary as simple. You may spend a little time getting used to the work flow, but there are only so many options to explore.
Moments: Branded as
Any.do Moment, this is a nifty little feature. The app floats your tasks one by one every morning and asks you when you’d like to finish them - today, later, done, or delete. From your collected answers, it plans your day for you. If you get overwhelmed easily - these are the best 5 minutes you can start your day with. A sticking point for many.
Perspective Navigation: You will never get lost. There are smooth and simple animations to explain what’s happening on your screen. An essential requirement for iOS apps’ approval, this is a very welcome differentiation point from among a dozen apps all focused on bloating their product with features instead of focusing on iterative improvements.
Sublists: Shopping lists can become tedious pretty easily, and in no-time. Organize them under ‘tasks’ as ‘sublists’. A little caveat… for an app that focuses on getting things done easy, a small icon that needs to be triggered on the task before being clicked isn’t as intuitive as you’d like.
Views: Very flexible views - another sticking point. Sort your tasks by Time, Lists and Priority for All or specific Projects.
Notes & Attachments: That notes for each task are available to free users is a big plus. Unless you’re willing to pay elsewhere to get this, a point to consider for you.
Free users are limited to 1.5 MB per file in attachments, while a premium package will get you 100 MB per file.
See also: Cal Calendar Google/Exchange, Grocery List
Unnecessarily Difficult Time Management: It’s ridiculous the number of clicks you have to make on each task to manage your lists and tasks. A deal-breaker for me, and for anyone who’d like to not waste time on scrolling through a digital clock.
Limited Priority Levels: Normal or High. Often, things aren’t so straightforward in real life.
Type of user: Minimalist, needs subtasks, notes and reminders.
The good stuff
Familiar Layout: A header bar at the top, filtering options on the left, task lists on the right.
Ninja Power: Todoist has an entire page dedicated to keyboard shortcuts. Adding a task complete with its due date is as simple as pressing
q on the website, typing your task with a date and/or date on it, and hitting
enter. Todoist automatically captures your input from within the task.
Formatting Options & Multiple Priority Levels: Four priority levels and ability to turn your text bold, italic and so on. Again, Todoist seems to emphasize on a power user.
Quick Find: is really quick. You don’t need to lift a finger. You won’t get time to lift a finger!
I haven’t been able to find anything the developers have gotten wrong. If you’re a power user who also prefers a reasonably good user-interface - this is it.
Free users only get a ‘preview’: You’ll be grossly aware of all the features restricted from you, moving from Any.do to Todoist. No notes, reminders, or attachments.
Reminders can be a deal-breaker for you, should you not be comfortable with the idea of looking at your to-do-list every morning manually, and not receiving any reminders thereon.
Type of user: Quick, likes control, doesn’t need task reminder bells/alarms
While I haven’t explored it fully yet, it looks to be a very good deal for those looking for a no-nonsense to-do-list manager and don’t need complex or unnessary features on top of it.
The Good Stuff
Can add people Allows for varying backgrounds.
It’s neither a complete notes keeper, nor a to-do-list manager. It’s trying to do both and has failed to impress.
The Good Stuff
Colored notes: A breath of fresh air – great for crude visual emphasis. Planning to eat healthy foods? Make the note green. Medical information? Red would work. Not quite important? You have grey.
Easy sharing: Everyone you know has a Google account. The app size is moderate (11 MB). It’s easy to get started and share that grocery list with your family. Most likely, they won’t need to even sign in, if they are on an Android powered phone using a Google account.
Uneasy to Use: The basic read-write functions are easy to use. Labels, for example, are poorly implemented. Once you have too many, accessing archives and deleted notes becomes cumbersome.
No Views: Nothing to offer in the way of views. While the idea is to keep the app simple and easy to use, it is a necessary feature for when you start to keep too many notes. Especially given where Google wants you to use the same app for notes and to-do-lists, items are bound to explode to double figures really quickly.
The horizontal/tiled views are a futile attempt to make the app ‘interesting’ rather than useful.
Simplenote was bought by Automattic recently, the company behind the well-loved blogging CMS WordPress.
The Good Stuff
Clean & Fast: Look, it’s a straightforward note-keeping app. Not surprisingly, it’s just that fast – which was my key consideration. Take out your phone, tap an icon, and begin writing. Simples.
Lock Protection: This is a no-brainer. I keep a lot of personal content on my app of choice. While it increases the friction, it’s generally a good idea to set up a PIN lock, especially if you don’t fancy keeping a lock on your phone itself.
Publishing: Instantly publish a note you’ve been writing. You get presented with a really clean page, such as [this][Simplenote-PublishedPage]. While indentation is lost, Markdown syntax is retained and applied.
Go Back in Time: Yep. Go back in time and restore revisions of your notes. Not particularly important, but always a good thing to have for those Oh Snap! moments.
The Bad Stuff
No Manual Sync:
Messy Markdown support: While published posts and the web app allow for Markdown syntax and viewing, the Android app does not.
Upon contacting, a WordPress employee said:
Thank you for your feedback. I can definitely see your point, and we’re constantly trying to improve Simplenote while keeping it, well, simple.
You do have some options to use Markdown with the web app:
Hopefully that will help ease your formatting woes a bit.
I’ve waited years for a simple set of options: bold, italic, underline, and headings. This doesn’t bloat the app and makes notes easier to read, write and maintain.
The developers seem to differ and think Markdown is simpler and more accessible than those four little icons. I can’t think of any reason they’d decide so.
[Simplenote]: [Google Keep]: [Evernote]: [Simplenote-PublishedPage]: https://app.simplenote.com/publish/MdtFy1
Comparing note-keeping apps and to-do-lists has been on the internet since 12:56 on Friday, October 16 2015.