Zoho, a provider of productivity and collaboration software, today announced the launch of Notebook , a note-taking application designed to challenge more established platforms, such as Google Keep, Microsoft Office OneNote, Apple Note and the market leader, Evernote.
Interestingly, Zoho is launching Notebook at a time when Evernote is raising its prices and limiting the number of devices it connects to in the free version.
Aesthetics, Ease of Use Set Notebook Apart
Aesthetics and ease of use make Notebook a “beautiful alternative to Evernote,” said Raju Vegesna, Zoho’s chief evangelist, in a phone interview with Small Business Trends.
“When it comes to features, Evernote probably has more than Notebook, given the time they have been around in the market,” Vegesna said. “But if you compare the features that we have, each one of them is implemented better in Notebook.”
This image, taken from a Zoho blog post detailing the distinctions between Notebook and Evernote , showcases the app’s aesthetics and orientation toward visual design.
Zoho uses terms such as “clean design,” “intuitive gestures” and “hand-drawn art work,” in describing Notebook.
It’s as if the company took a cue from Apple in conceiving the product design. In fact, the app enables use of iOS-specific features, such as Force Touch and the Notification Bar, which allows creation and viewing of recent Note Cards without needing to open the app. Users can also record voice notes with Apple Watch.
“Creating a note-taking application is easy,” says Vegesna in today’s announcement. “What is not easy is creating a note-taking application with a great user experience. We believe we have achieved both with Notebook. I can proudly and confidently say that Notebook is the best note taking application on the market. Period.”
See an overview of Notebook in this video:
It’s not surprising to hear such high praise coming from Zoho’s chief evangelist, but does Notebook live up to the hype? Take a look at how the app functions, along with its associated features, and judge for yourself.
Zoho Notebook Functions, Features
Notebook has four main functions: Users can write notes, record audio, create checklists and snap photos. The app incorporates those functions into “Note Cards,” which are built-in, pre-formatted templates for capturing different types of content.
The four card types are:
- Text Card — A general purpose card that can capture any type of content. Users can start by writing a note, and then add images, checklists or audio, all within the same note;
- Checklist Card — Lets users create checklists, which can be anything from a grocery list to places to see while traveling;
- Audio Card — Records voice notes;
- Photo Card — Captures photos, which Zoho refers to as “Moments.”
Capturing information is just one part of how Notebook works. Users can also organize and personalize information, sync content with mobile devices via the cloud and then share it with others.
Organize Notes. Users can organize Note Cards into Notebooks, group notes together, reorder notes within a notebook, move and copy note cards between notebooks and search for notes within a notebook or across notebooks.
Personalize Notes. Personalization options let users:
- View notebooks in a grid- or landscape-style layout;
- Change the color of note cards, to make them easier to identify;
- Customize notebook covers with pre-designed templates or make their own;
- Create shortcuts for any notebook on the home screen.
Cloud Sync. Notebook is cloud-based, which means users can synchronize note cards and notebooks across a range of devices, enabling anywhere, anytime access.
The app stores new notes and edits to existing notes in the cloud automatically and pushes them out to all connected devices. Someone can take a note on one device, and then add to it from another.
Sharing. Users can share notes via email and other options.
Regarding aesthetics and user experience, Notebook has the following unique features:
According to the announcement, users can:
- Swipe notebooks or note cards to see additional information;
- Pinch the screen to group note cards into a stack;
- Flick the screen to find note cards;
- In landscape view, pinch to fold note cards like an accordion.
The repository of hand-drawn, digitized cover designs is another feature Zoho touts as having visual appeal that fits with its “elegance” aesthetic. Vegesna said that Zoho has four in-house artists who do nothing but create hand-painted covers.
Pricing and Availability
Notebook is available immediately worldwide as a free app. Zoho says it will remain free to use and never include ads. The app is optimized for smartphones and tablets and is localized in multiple languages. Currently, it is available on iOS  and Android .
Visit the Zoho Notebook website  to learn more or to download the app.