Evernote has had a rockier time in the public eye in the past year. Last June they increased their pricing and put some harder limits on the free accounts. This opened the service up to a lot of criticism from free users, who were actually getting a very good deal from the service. Previous to that price change, you could use Evernote across as many devices as you wanted, as long as you stayed within the monthly upload limit. That was pretty generous for a company whose income comes from a subset of paying users.
However, I do also understand the backlash to Evernote’s pricing change: it wasn’t announced alongside any significant new features, so it just looked like a price increase on both paid plans, and a sudden limitation of the free plan that so many people were enjoying. I think this move challenged Evernote’s user base, many of whom were suddenly looking at other note apps that they could use for free. Apple Notes had made some big changes to its feature set with iOS 9, and OneNote introduced an Evernote to OneNote importerto make it easier to move large note libraries to Microsoft’s free note-taking service. Late in 2016 also saw the launch of Bear, which featured its own Evernote import (in the Mac app) and its own set of tagging, attachment, and in-line picture support.
I’ve spent a lot of time testing Evernote competitors over the past year. OneNote really should have been the winner because it rivals Evernote in terms of cross-platform support and a functional web app, but it just never clicked. I had concluded previously that I stuck with Evernote because nothing else quite worked how I wanted it to, but I wanted to update that thought after the past few months of regular Evernote usage.
It took a while, but I’m enjoying using Evernote again. The sync feels fast and consistent on iOS, and the background sync does a pretty good job. I’m using the Plus plan ($47 USD/year) with 1 GB of monthly uploads, and I haven’t felt any need to move to Premium (aside from the strange “upgrade now!” nagging within parts of the UI). I’m making copious use of tags in my notes for quick searching, and just a handful of notebooks to keep things organized. Evernote is my space for quick thoughts, notes on how I’ve set up a device or workflow, and also a repository for quick receipts, thanks to the excellent Scannable app.
The speed on the iPad Pro has been pretty good; it’s a far cry from the days where it was faster to run Drafts and upload notes from there, instead of actually typing new notes into the Evernote app. The upcoming iOS update for Evernote, which was teased on the company blog, takes improvements even further. I can’t talk about the update until they release it, but I joined the beta group for Evernote a few years ago, and this release really is a big step forward.
So I have to say, although last year wasn’t a great year for Evernote in the news, I’m optimistic about Evernote in 2017. I’m back to enjoying the service, and I’ve been really impressed by the updates they’ve been launching across macOS, Windows, and iOS. It’s looking like that price increase is starting to pay off.
Although the company doesn’t feel as whimsical as when Phil Libin was a regular part of the company podcast and they called the service “your external brain”, I have hopes that Evernote can stick around as a viable note service for a while to come.