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Take Better Notes With Springpad for Android

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Springpad

Springpad sounds great: It's a free, Web-based productivity service that lets you clip Web pages and create multimedia notes, shopping lists, to-do reminders, and more. It includes social sharing--you can follow other users and share notes with them--and also integrates with Twitter and Facebook. The Springpad Android app brings some of this functionality to your data-connected Android device, but it has significant flaws and limitations that greatly reduce its appeal.

To get started with Springpad, you create an account. You can do this in-app or in a desktop Web browser. You can optionally link your Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo accounts to your Springpad account and use any one of them to log in. The Web version of Springpad also lets you link your Flickr account if you'd like to pull images from Flickr into your Springpad notes, but the Android app does not.

Once you log in, the app's home screen shows a view of all your notebooks. Notebooks are like folders that hold groups of your notes. You can customize the home screen theme and individual notebook colors. Springpad starts you out with three notebooks: "My Stuff," which contains all of your notes; "Friends' Stuff," which contains public notes of other Springpad users that you follow (the Android app, however, does not let you add users to follow); and "My First Notebook," which is an empty notebook that you can rename or put notes into.

Creating notebooks and text-based notes is easy--just click the "+" icon. You can record and attach an audio clip to a note. You should be able to attach an image or video clip to a note, from either the Camera or the Gallery app. Every time I tried to use the feature on my HTC Droid Incredible, though, it didn't work. I use photos to capture a lot of information, so that failure renders Springpad almost useless to me.

You can tag notes with keywords--a way to organize notes across notebooks. And you can set a note or notebook to be public or private.

You can also send a Web-page URL from the Web browser to the Springpad app (Menu, More, Share Page). However, I don't like the way that the resulting bookmark title displays as the root domain only--not the page title. If you share several pages from the same Website, the resulting notes all look the same.

The Web version of Springpad allows you to attach almost any file type (5MB or smaller) to a note, but the Android version does not have this capability.

You can scan barcodes (but not QR codes) with the app, and it will look up the product on the Web. I scanned a book, and the app created a note with the Amazon listing and a "buy" link. You can create shopping lists, to-do lists, and reminders. You can search for recipes and add the results as notes. You can also search for products or businesses near your current location, and then add the results as notes. The search results, though, are not always very good.

If you already use Springpad's Web version, then it makes sense to install the Android app. You'll be able to view all your notes on your Android device. However, this app is too buggy for me to recommend to new users who want to use their Android device to take notes. Perhaps it will improve with future updates. [Editor's Note: An updated version of the Springpad Android was released on 3/22/2011 that eliminates many of the bugs found in previous versions. It also includes new features like a customizable sorting system and customizable widgets for your Android 2.1 or higher phone.]

For now, I recommend the similar app Evernote because it works better on Android devices.

You might also like other articles by Brent W. Hopkins.

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Springpad

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