Google Keep for iOS Redesign

I started using Google Keep last week and can honestly say that I am very impressed. The interface is clean. The colors are beautiful. The product stays true to its focus of personal productivity. The focus of this redesign is not on Google Keep, but on the newly released Google Keep for iOS. The app is almost identical to its Android counterpart (released 2013), and draws on many parts of what makes the core Google Keep for Chrome product successful — ease of use, a narrow set of features, and ease of sharing and synchronization.

Search and Navigation

Our redesign will first discuss search and navigation.

Search

Category search gives the user plenty of options to filter down a list of notes. The number of options is in fact, a little too much — we can narrow down features related to categorization. Since color categorization is one of the main drawing points of the app and is likely the most frequented, Labels can be cut.

This not only reduces navigation (discussed in the next section), but thins search results to a lesser number of parameters. Especially given the option of 8 colors that serve as labels in and of themselves, the non-visual categorization of Labels is unnecessary.

Navigation

The primary navigation of the app is within a note, giving options to categorize the note, take photos, share, etc. These features are delegated into two menus, the main menu at the top of a note, and a hidden bottom menu that is accessed through clicking on the vertical ellipses icon.

Current Navigation

This navigation works for desktop, where primary input of notes is through text, but not on mobile. Google Keep displays voice and photo options on the “Take a note…” text input bar, but these icons are easy to miss for new users.

What is required is additional display on the new notes page. These alternate inputs ought to be displayed prominently on the main menu at the top of a new note, along with the popular Color feature. The redesigned menu navigation is below.

Redesigned Navigation

Navigations, such as Sharing, previously in the main menu have been pushed to the hidden menu with the assumption that users save sharing items of importance for desktop. Furthermore Archive has been consolidated with trash to reduce navigation options , everything is now archived. Users make more tapping mistakes on mobile (such as creating or deleting a new note on accident) and allowing easy access of Delete and pushing all deleted items to Archive for review on Desktop makes the mobile app more forgiving.

Redesigned Hidden Navigation

These next two sections will focus on redesign of these alternate forms of note input, Photo and Drawing.

Photo

Inputting notes through taking a picture can be hugely valuable. The current implementation however, focuses on the photo itself rather than the content of the photo, which is what the user is more likely to want. A possible use case is one student copying another’s notes from a day of missed class. The student isn’t interested in the actual picture, but in the information on the paper. The solution is to by-default transcribe image text on mobile and push the photo to a secondary location below the actual content of the image, keeping the text from the photo as the primary note. This is already an optional feature on Google Keep for Chrome, but would highly increase efficiency for mobile. The mockup is shown below.

Redesigned Photo

Drawing

Already a feature implemented in an add-on for Android (Sketch for Keep), input through user drawing can expand use for the iPad user (or casual doodler). Integrated into the navigation bar, Drawing will follow Photo’s pattern of automatically transcribing content into text if possible. Side note: Material Design icon for the Swiping Hand hasn’t been released yet, but would be useful here as an instructional nudge.

Redesigned Drawing

The display is again focused on content rather than the actual drawing.

Redesigned Drawing

Other Design Changes

Other changes may include developing integration with Chrome, allowing for saving of articles, links, or other web content. Another peripheral use case may be for those that are color blind, who are unable to use the app’s core functionality of categorization by color — adding more color selection or customizable palettes may solve this.

Redesigned Gestures

Most of the suggested designs in this article are to adapt Google Keep to modern mobile use and to take advantage of the tools an iPhone offers. The product is very well designed and is on par to compete with Evernote and Apple Notes. On a parting thought however, I’m slightly worried about the product’s monetary sustainability — I share a concern with many users of learning a product, only to have it discontinued (Google Reader…). More explicitly highlighting the Export to Docs feature of in-app data may help to alleviate these concerns.

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