Two months ago, we sat glued to our browsers as details of the iPad started streaming out of Apple’s launch event. It didn’t take us very long to formulate our official strategy for the new device: we were going to support the hell out of it, and we had 60 days to do it. Today is iPad launch day and as long lines start to form outside of Apple stores and UPS-Santa makes his rounds to sleepless geek households, we’re happy to say that Evernote for the iPad is live in the Apple AppStore!
The new Evernote version (3.3) for Apple’s mobile devices is a universal binary that will run on all iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices. There aren’t many changes for iPhone / iPod Touch users in this version, but if you run it on an iPad you get a completely new user experience.
Something to hold
Designing the new interface was a daunting task. First, we made an advanced prototype by cutting out a roughly-tablet-sized piece of cardboard, writing “iPad” on it, and carrying it around for a few days. We would bring it to meetings, hold it in different ways, and try to imagine what Evernote would feel like on this form factor. We looked pretty stupid and people made fun of us mercilessly. We printed out Photoshopped UI screens and taped them to the “iPad” to get an idea of font sizes and finger placement. We learned a lot.
What should it be?
We tried taking our existing iPhone UI and making it bigger. That failed the cardboard-poke test. We tried taking our existing Mac UI and making it smaller. That failed the cardboard-poke test. We locked ourselves into a conference room for three days and threw away all of our previous designs. After some trial and error, we got something that we fell in love with.
One major design principle of our iPad interface is to get you to your notes quickly. The new layout and interactions dramatically reduce the amount of navigating and searching you have to do. The idea is that it should be easy and pleasant to just get to any note you want in a very tactile way. We want you to have the feeling of running your fingers directly through your memories. It’s hard to describe but easy to experience. Of course, you can still search.
Things to try
We’ll post a complete tutorial of all the features soon, but in the meantime here are some things you should try:
Scroll through all your notes in the “All notes” screen. Try the “View options” in the upper righthand corner to toggle between thumbnail and detail display and to change how your notes are grouped. If you have a lot of notes, try using the quick-scroll bar on the right side of the screen to quickly jump from group to group. The tick marks on this bar show you how many notes you have in each group, so it’s easy to jump to the “busy” parts of your life with just one tap!
Notebooks and tags
Tap on the “Notebooks” or “Tags” tab to view and browse your notebooks and tags. If you have many items displayed, try changing the sort order to “Note count” using the switch at the bottom of the screen, and you’ll automatically see your most popular tags or notebooks first.
Try the new map display in the “Places” tab. The thumbnails will automatically update to show only those that relate to what you’re seeing on the map. So, as you scroll and zoom the map, it’s easier than ever to find exactly the note your looking for.
If you tap any note, you’ll see a split screen with the note contents in one panel and thumbnails in the other. All of the “View options”, grouping, scrolling and quick-scroll functionality is available in this view as well, so you can pretty much spend all of your time in the screen if you want. Just hit the “Home” arrow in the upper right to get back.
New notes and editing
You can always make a new note by hitting the “New note” button on the bottom left corner of the screen. We’ve implemented the most requested feature for note creation: You can now combine text notes with any number of image or audio attachments. Just tap the attachment buttons located along the top of the note editing window to record audio or add an image. You can even continue to type while you record, although if you try this you should either use an external mic, external keyboard, or tap very very softly… All of this works when editing an existing note as well, just hit the pencil button when viewing a single note. These new capabilities have also greatly expanded the types of notes that you can directly edit.
You can always search through your notes by tapping on the search bar in the upper right. All of Evernote’s image searching and highlighting works as well, of course.
Remembers your place
The new Evernote for iPad is so fast that we were finally able to implement another frequent request: when you quit and relaunch the app, it starts exactly where you left it. If you were viewing a particular note or search result and quit to run another app, your note will be right back on the screen when you restart Evernote. If you don’t care about what you were last looking at and just want to make a new note quickly, the “New note” button is always in the lower left side.
What’s not in the new version (yet)?
There are a bunch of things that we wanted to get into this version but couldn’t. These will be coming soon:
We think that making a quick sketch or jotting down a phone number with your finger will be a great experience on the iPad, but we didn’t want to try to put in this functionality until we’d actually spent some quality time with the hardware. Handwriting is just too much of a tactile-based experience to develop purely on a simulator.
Notebook, tag and search management
Notebook, tag and search management: You can’t currently make new notebooks on the iPad, and tag and search management options are limited. Of course, you can do all of this from the Mac, Windows and Web versions of Evernote and the results will be automatically synced to the iPad. The next version will include this functionality directly on the device.
iPhone / iPod Touch upgrades
Even though much of the under-the-hood code was updated in version 3.3, there are no user-visible changes in this version for iPhone / iPod Touch users. The next few updates will bring many of the improvements that we developed for the iPad to our iPhone / iPod Touch users.
Many other upgrades and improvements are coming soon as well. Getting our iPad app from zero to public availability in 60 days was a giant effort, but we’re not slowing down anytime soon. If the first version on the iPad is this good, just imagine what we’ll be able to do once we, you know, actually get some iPads.
A giant thanks to everyone who worked on this version: Steve, Gabe, Andrew, Dave, (the other) Phil, Alex, Ken, and Larry!
Note: A few people have reported a problem synchronizing existing accounts when upgrading to version 3.3 on their iPhone or iPod Touch. Most of these problems are solved by quitting and restarting the app. If this doesn’t work for you, then you should delete the app from your iPhone (by holding the icon until it wiggles and tapping the ‘x’) and reinstall it from the AppStore. We’ve already submitted a new version to Apple (3.3.1) that fixes this problem, so hopefully this won’t be an issue for long.