Sunday, June 9, 2013

Keep: Reading the tea leaves

I hate prediction posts.  This week there is both E3, the gaming industry trade show, and Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).

The tech press has articles for the last couple weeks, talking about what we "might" see at these shows. They do nothing but lead to disappointment; they are always too optimistic.

That being said, imagine my own sense of irony as I delve into thinking about Keep, and where it might be going.

This isn't a prediction, I tell myself, but more like a thought experiment.

Since Keep was first announced and released back on March 20, the Keep community (Google+ Keep Community), has been eager to see what Google does with this humble beginning.

Many of us love Evernote, and while we don't necessarily want to give up Evernote, we want to see where Keep is going.

Is Keep going to expand to challenge Evernote?  What does Google have in mind for Keep?

Some in the G+ community have wondered if Keep wasn't released early.  It had been accidentally exposed to the web a few days before the announcement, and there are those, and I'm one of them, that think Google released Keep when it did only to stem the rumors.  There has been only one upgrade for the Android version since then, a minor bug fix release.  There are yet no new features.

Or has there?

We know from the first announcement of Keep that it is part of Google Drive.  To access Drive via the web, you go to  http://drive.google.com/keep.  

More telling is the promise in that first post
You can access, edit and create new notes on the web at http://drive.google.com/keep and in the coming weeks you'll be able to do the same directly from Google Drive. [emphasis mine]
Yet, there has not been any integration of Keep and Drive despite that promise.

While the Keep Android app hasn't been upgraded, the Drive app has been upgraded a couple weeks ago on May 22.

One key new feature in that version was a scan button.  Now when you choose to add a new document, your choices are Folder, Document, Spreadsheet, Scan, and Upload.
Simply click “Scan” from the Add New menu, snap a photo of your document, and Drive will turn the document into a PDF that’s stored for safekeeping.
Now when you take a photo of a document, you can adjust the image so that it makes a good looking document.  And, the post goes on to say :
And because Drive can recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, a simple search will retrieve the scanned document later. No more frantic scrambling through drawers looking for a receipt or digging through your pockets to find that business card -- just scan, upload and search in Drive.
That's a capability Evernote has.  Now Drive has it.  And Keep is part of Drive.

So I'm beginning to get a glimmer of where Keep is going.

Soon, a new folder will appear in Drive named "Google Keep" or some such.  Inside of it will be our notes, in some new format, like the unique format Google created for Documents, .gdoc.

And there will be a sub folder "Archive".

Those will be the default folders for the Keep mobile apps.

Keep will be a simple entry and viewing app for the Drive text notes and scans/photos within those folders.  And we'll be able to open those notes and documents within Drive.

And we'll likely be able to Share them, and Star them as we do Drive documents.  And move them to other folders.

One thing I am fairly confident about, is that Google will keep Keep going.  I think the ultimate use of Keep is meant to be with Google Glass.  It would be so easy to look at something while wearing Glass, and say, "Glass, Keep this." and Glass would take a photo of the sign, or menu, or whatever you were looking at, and add it to Keep.

Did you know you can go to Google's main search page, and type in "My photos of cats", and if you have any cat photos stored in Google+ the search results will show you the photos you have of cats?

Only you can search your photos this way.  You have to be logged into to Google when you make the search.

Imagine if they integrated Keep into their search results.  To invoke search on Glass, you go to "OK Glass, Google, <search term>"

Imagine saying to Glass, "OK Glass, Google, Show me my last gas receipt" and it finds it in Keep.

At the last Google I/O, they said soon PCs would automatically listen for you to say "OK Google, <search term>".  With Keep integrated into search results, we could simply ask our PC to show us something in Keep.

Anyway, that's my little Thought Experiment.  It will be interesting to see if any of it comes to be.

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