Can Evernote Make You into a Digital Leonardo?

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sit down at a desktop computer.” I called this phenomenon “continuous computing,” and it was clear to me even then that a service like Evernote would have to be a key part of it.

The Evernote iPhone AppOf course, Evernote isn’t perfect. To my great frustration, the Mac version only works on Leopard, and the company says they have no plans to port it back to Tiger–so if you, like me, haven’t yet upgraded to OS X 10.5, you’re out of luck. You can’t edit notes from the iPhone, and you can’t create notes from Web pages that you find using the iPhone’s Safari browser (but that’s not Evernote’s fault—it’s because the iPhone doesn’t have a universal cut-and-paste function). And in one big respect, Evernote falls grievously short of a Leonardo-style notebook: you can’t alter or personalize the look of an Evernote notebook or the overall Evernote interface in any way. I’m sure many Evernote users would like to customize their notebooks, especially their public ones, the same way that some bloggers labor over the design of their blogs.

But I expect that some of these features will show up in future releases. After all, the public Web version of Evernote is only three weeks old, and the iPhone app is even newer than that.

Like so many other Web services these days, Evernote has a “freemium” business model. There’s a free, ad-supported version that allows you to store up to 40 megabytes of information per month. But if you start to use Evernote a lot, you’ll quickly exhaust that 40 megabytes, and you’ll want to upgrade to the premium version, which costs $5 per month or $45 per year and has a limit of 500 megabytes per month, with no ads to clutter up your notebooks. That’s enough for tens of thousands of text notes and Web clips, hundreds of low-resolution camera-phone photos, or about 130 high-resolution photos. With storage as cheap as it is these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if Evernote soon raised the premium limit to 1 gigabyte per month or more.

I think that if Leonardo were alive today, he’d still work out his important ideas on paper. But then he’d scan and upload each page to a central repository like Evernote, where they’d be safe for as long as the Web itself exists, and where he could search for what he needed without having to manually index or organize anything (always his weak point). The Web, in a sense, is one giant laboratory for thinking—and Evernote gives us each our own personal bench.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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3 responses to “Can Evernote Make You into a Digital Leonardo?”

  1. mattk says:

    “The new Evernote iPhone app, which became available last week when Apple rolled out the App Store as part of the 2.0 release of the iPhone firmware, is everything a mobile application should be—simple, elegant, and useful.”

    Another view from daringfireball on the iPhone version:

    “I can’t understand why anyone would deem an app in this state ready to ship.”

    Quite a difference, huh?