Only a little more than a week after Google announced the upcoming closure of its online news-reading service, Google Reader, it's released another free app -- this time with no guarantee of how long it will be up, no apparent way for Google to make money from it, and integration into other Google services that is incomplete at best.
Introducing Google Keep …
Google Keep is a free note-taking app for Android smartphones and tablets running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or later. It syncs with your Google Drive (what Google Docs ended up as) and creates a Pinterest-style wall of notes, which you can turn different colors, make into lists, or attach photos or voice recordings to. There is no desktop app, but you can get to your notes in a web browser at drive.google.com/keep.
… the most controversial note-taking app on the Web
Wired's Nathan Olivarez-Giles calls Google Keep "an overdue answer to Evernote" -- perhaps the most popular note-taking system in the world right now, with apps on Android, iOS, PC, and Mac. Android Police's Ron Amadeo compares it to Google Notebook, another free notetaking app which was closed down in 2009. But The Atlantic Wire's Rebecca Greenfield asks "What's the price of free in Google Keep?", and suggests that it may share the same fate as Reader and Notebook.
Why Google keeps closing apps
Ex-Googler James Whittaker explained last year that while he was at the company "Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were [considered] a distraction" by Google execs, who are trying to build a social network to rival Facebook so that they can target their ads more effectively. This is why many Google projects have been canned in the last couple of years, especially the sort of whimsical ones that the "old Google" made without worrying about where the money would come from. Ones like Google Reader.
What Google Keep has in common with Reader
Like Google Reader, Google Keep does not generate ad money directly for Google, or even subscription revenue the way Google Drive does. It also does not tie in to Google+ in any way, even through being able to "+1" a note, sort of like how Reader was just barely tied in.
Releasing a new free app, which doesn't tie in to Google+ in any way, may not seem to be part of Google's "More wood behind fewer arrows" strategy. As this screenshot posted on Google's own Google+ page shows, however, Google Keep has been in the works since at least last July, which may mean that it's part of a long-term plan.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
- Technology & Electronics
- Google Reader
- Google Docs