In my recent ProfHacker guide to 5 Android Apps I Can’t Live Without, there was one seemingly obvious mobile application missing from my list: Evernote, which has gotten a lot of attention on ProfHacker. That wasn’t an oversight on my part. I rarely use Evernote, for many reasons: I don’t like the way it locks up my data, the desktop client is distractingly cluttered, and both the Apple and Android app interfaces are forgettable and unintuitive. And then there’s Evernote’s firepower. It’s too much application for my purposes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need my grocery shopping list tagged with keywords and filed away in notebooks. Bloated with features, Evernote is simply not useful for quick and dirty notes.
What I use instead is 3Banana Notes, an application available for iPhone and Android devices, powered in the cloud by Snaptic.com. Besides being oddly named, 3Banana is free, ad-free, incredibly lightweight, but powerful enough to corral the bits and pieces of my information stream—and then share them when needed.
Here’s what you see when you open the application (I’m demonstrating the Android version, but its iPhone counterpart is nearly identical):
The interface is clean and functional. You can quickly add a note in the Enter a Private Note space, or use the camera icon to take a photograph. Pressing Android’s standard hardware menu button will pop-up a context-sensitive menu:
This menu gives you a hint of what you can incorporate into your notes. You can easily tag them (more on that in a moment), scan a standard barcode to add an ISBN to your note, search through all your notes, and sync your notes with the snaptic.com website. You don’t need to press the sync button, by the way; you can configure automatic syncing in the application’s settings.
Let’s run 3Banana Notes through its paces. Here I’ve taken a photograph of a book using my phone and also used the scan button to add the book’s ISBN, along with a quick reminder for myself. Notice how I’ve also included a hashtag in my note. That #profhacker is all I need to do to tag my notes. There’s no special box to fill out, nothing to check. Simply use a hashtag and both 3Banana on your device and Snaptic on the web will catalog that tag, making your notes categorizable and searchable.
And what about that Snaptic website? Like the mobile app, the web interface is fast and clean:
You’ll find a list of tags on the left side of the page, along with some time-based filters. The bulk of the page contains your notes, which you click on to expand.
Killer Features: Geotagging, Comments, and Sharing
And when you do click on a note, that’s when several of 3Banana/Snaptic’s killer features become evident. Here’s the bottom of my expanded test note:
Notice the pin icon on the left with the “show on map” link. If you have “Location Tagging” enabled in 3Banana (under Menu > More > Settings), your notes will automatically be associated with the geographic place where you created the note.
Moving left to right, you’ll see the “add comment” button, which lets you add follow-up comments to your original note. This feature is useful for project management, to-do lists, or simply a record of your ideas as they evolve over time.
And finally, there’s one more button to highlight, the button that makes 3Banana/Snaptic stand apart from its competition: share. Clicking this button makes the note public, and you can easily share the note on Twitter or Facebook, or just copy and paste the URL into an email message. You don’t even have to be on the website to share a note; you can do it right within your mobile app. Try it! Here’s my demo note, which I’ve lovingly shared with the world.
Now I just have to get this book back to Brian. In the meantime, let us know if you think 3Banana is worth trying. How would you use its geotagging features, its built-in commenting, or its sharing capabilities?
[Giant Paper Airplane on Roof Image courtesy of Flickr user zoomar / Creative Commons License. And special thanks to Tom Scheinfeldt, whose complaints about tagging shopping lists in Evernote led me to look for an alterative.]