Being hailed by some as THE game-changing software of 2008, Evernote is one of a handful of tools that allow you to clip, store, and access information you pick up along your travels online. In trying to make sense of what Evernote can do, it's useful to think of it as upgrade (overhaul, really) on the traditional bookmarking system so many of us got used to using when we wanted to come back to on the web. And how many of you have long lists of bookmarks that you "keep meaning to organize" or are just ignoring altogether? Yeah, me too.
Rather than simply marking a page to come back to later, Evernote allows you to snag images, screenshots, clips of text, and virtually any other bits of 1s and 0s that pique your interest, tag the resource, and store it in any number of "notebooks" that you designate in Evernote. And because it's cross-platform, you can use Evernote on a Windows, Mac, and the ubiquitous iPhone. Evernote has both a web-interface and a desktop interfaces (for Windows and Mac) which can be synchronized to provide a pretty seamless experience regardless of which machine you're on or what office you're sitting in. But what about privacy and security? Evernote allows you to share your notes with peers without actually making them "public" and it allows you to to encrypt resources in your notebooks to ensure they remain YOUR information and not someone else's.
Evernote is not the first to come along with a clipping tool that allows you to save and organize digital bits to access later. Google Notebook (free and web-based), OneNote (PC, not free), and Yep (Mac, not free) all provide some level of organization to the digital information that either threatens to overwhelm you or languishes in digital obscurity because you're too busy to make sense of the mess.
Where Evernote shines, in my opinion, is in it's ability to integrate your analog life with the digital. In addition to being able to save and organize digital detritus, Evernote allows users to turn their webcam into an ad hoc scanner. Have a load of business cards stacked in your desk? I do, and I loathe the idea of keying them into Outlook or Gmail. Instead, I help each one up to my web cam, clicked the camera, and saved the business card in my "cards" notebook in Evernote. Once scanned, Evernote's OCR will identify text in a given JPEG that can be searched and accessed at a later time. Watch the short clip below to see some more of Evernote's features or read Zee's post featuring "20 Awesome Ways to Use It."
Evernote is not without its shortcomings -- as we should expect from just about anything being hailed as a "killer app." For one, I wish it provided Blackberry integration (which has been promised but not yet delivered). Others have said there are some snags in Evernote's OCR functionality with PDFs. But Evernote is building a loyal following of users that are sure to keep the folks over there on their toes -- living up to the kind of innovation that has gotten them this far.
(Evernote can be used in for free or users can "go premium" for added space, features, and flexibility for $5 a month)