Microsoft’s new Garage app, called Cache, offers the company a chance to compete with one of the better organizational apps out there: Google Keep. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that that’s the direction Cache is headed.
Originally unearthed by the Twitter user WalkingCat, the Cache website is only available to those who request access. It’s part of Microsoft’s stable of Garage apps, a proving ground of sorts for apps which may or may not turn in to full-fledged, fully backed Microsoft efforts.
Microsoft calls Cache a “research project to explore how people manage and curate the content they work with,” and asks for feedback on how the service should evolve. Elsewhere, the site claims that Cache “is a great place to quickly bookmark the stuff important to you,” including “text snippets, images, webpages, files, reference material, and your notes.”
Personally, I find that I’m often bombarded with information: Email, Twitter, Facebook, the web, phone calls, coworkers, et cetera, comprise a wide variety of actionable items that I may not be able to get to right away. Acting on them immediately can even be detrimental to productivity. Cache appears to allow you to save and organize much of the digital information that bombards you daily in a digital shoebox to sift through later, on your own time.
Right now, my go-to app for those bits and pieces of my digital life is Google Keep, a simple, to-the-point, and extremely efficient lightweight note-taking app. I use it to jot down quick observations about a product i’m reviewing; to hack out a quick shopping list for the store; to snap a picture of the exact brand of olive oil my wife wants me to buy. These aren’t bookmarks, per se, and they’re not quite reminders that I would ask Cortana to log, either. Neither are they Sticky Notes, Microsoft’s other very rudimentary note-taking app; and they’re a bit simpler than what I might use Microsoft’s more powerful OneNote for. They’re just odds and ends of information that have a shelf life of a few minutes or days.
Really, this is a space where Microsoft ought to have a presence. Rival Evernote announced adjustments to its pricing plans in June, restricting its free tier to just two devices and limiting the amount of data you can upload per month. Google is under no such restrictions, and neither is Microsoft.
The wonderful thing about the potential for Cache is that Microsoft has already put the pieces in place. Yes, the “Note” shortcut in your Windows 10 Notifications Center currently launches OneNote, but it could launch Cache instead. Web pages can already be “sent” to Cortana as action items; Cache notes could as well. In other words, Cache could potentially trigger your shopping list when you walk into your local bodega—that is, if lists were supported in Cache. At this point, they don’t seem to be.
Cache, then, could be a surprisingly important product for Microsoft—if the company commits to it, and if it can get the app just right. It’s worth noting that the Cache signup page doesn’t even mention Windows phones, just Windows PCs, Macs, iOS, Android, and “other” platforms. But many of the components of the Windows experience, most notably Cortana, now roam across third-party operating systems.
We don’t have access to Cache yet, and it’s hard to say what it will ultimately become. But we’d like to hope that Cache could evolve into the next great note-taking app, especially as Evernote transitions into a paid product.
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As PCWorld's senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.