Why I won't use Google's new note taking service Keep

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 18, 2013
Updated • May 6, 2013

Indicators of a new note taking service by Google came to light after Carlos Jeurissen did some heavy code snooping on various Google properties. From the looks of it, Google Keep will be a note taking add-on integrated into Google Drive. It has not been officially announced yet, but first screenshots appeared on Android Police that show how this service may look like.

When I'm thinking about Google and notes, I instantly think of Google Notebook, a service that Google retired in July 2012 in favor of Google Docs. All data back then was exported to Google Docs, and the reasoning for the move was to "focus [..] efforts on products and technologies that will yield the most benefit to users in the long run".

Less than a year later, Google is about to introduce Keep which appears to be a note taking application integrated into Google Drive.

A reasonable approach to this would have been to keep Notebook alive until Keep is introduced, and then offer users ways to migrate their notes and data to Keep.

I'm probably not the only Internet users on this earth who lost a lot of trust in Google in recent time, as it is killing off services left and right.  With Google retiring that many services, trust in the companies "for the user" and " do not evil" policies vanished and were replaced with a down to earth view of the company.  It is there to make money and to dominate the markets it is in. There is nothing wrong with that approach and Google is certainly not the only company that does so, but the perception of Google has always been different from say Microsoft or Apple in this regard.

Google is losing trust, not necessarily when it comes to the bulk of Internet users who are probably mostly unaware of what is happening in the background. I'm talking about the trust of Internet savvy users, those who create, spread and recommend more than anyone else. Retiring Google Reader was probably one of the dumbest moves ever, as it infuriated exactly that user base. I would not be surprised if Google one year from now announces the integration of a Google Reader like service into Google Plus, the company's social networking service.

The main question that Internet users need to ask is this: should you use new services created by a company that is know to drop services left and right if they do not fit into the company's overall plan anymore? My answer is no, at least not when it comes to services with viable long-standing alternatives. In the case of Google Keep, try Evernote for example.


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  1. rpwheeler said on March 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I won’t use Keep because I use other service, Simplenote, and it suits me better.

    As for Google’s… I didn’t use Reader (please don’t shot me for that), but was annoyed even before because of many other Google’s decisions and changes.

    Hope that at some point some independent service will emerge. Facebook, Microsoft, Google — I’m not happy with any of them, and trust nobody of them.

  2. KoalaBear said on March 20, 2013 at 3:31 am

    LOL. Google Docs has WAY more functionality and even an app. And they imported everything.

  3. gyffes said on March 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Yep; the loss of Google Notes irritated me WAY more than the loss of Google+ or Google Reader did.

    I’m waiting for them to kill off Voice. That’ll probably prompt me to cancel all Google activities. My patience with them is wearing thin.

  4. DComedian said on March 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I agree with many of the comments above. I’ve been a Google devotee for a long time, but killing Google Reader means that I will be far more reticent to start using new Google services in future, especially where there is already a perfectly good alternative.

  5. infini said on March 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Bitter much?

    Love Greader. Sad it’s gone? Yes. Understand why it was done? Yes. Bitter? No. Grow a huge company with a multitude of services that are not linked together and you will understand why Google does what it does. Google does not want to be a number of services. Google understands rightly so that it must become a platform to truly offer rich services for it’s users. Stop crying babies. Change is good. And Google is still awesome.

  6. Joao Henriques said on March 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    this week killed greader and gdrive. a few months ago had killed search even if sometimes i have to bow. i’m not moving from gmail yet, because there’s really no alternative.

  7. Ken Saunders said on March 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    A friend of mine offers the good ol’ advice of not keeping all of your eggs in one basket.

    Discontinuing the free version of Google Apps was also a bad idea. I only use it for Gmail for my websites, and to go from free to paid for a new domain just isn’t worth what they want.

    I looked into Microsoft’s free offer to use my own domain name for Outlook,com, but after failing to get it going, I said screw it and now I’m hosting email myself. I have one more Google Apps account to kill.

    I’m also using Bing for search, images, and news, and Duck Duck Go for one of my site’s site search.

    Companies almost always screw over their consumers, the ones that power them and market them to the less informed once they get big, popular, and rich.

    Microsoft has changed a bit in those regards. It could simply be a marketing ploy, but they’re at least doing something to win back trust while Google’s relationship with its consumers is hurting.

    As with all technology, those of us that are into it have a responsibility to educate others and offer alternatives.

  8. Anonymous said on March 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    “should you use new services created by a company that is know to drop services left and right if they do not fit into the company’s overall plan anymore?”

    Nope. This is the reason why I don’t even consider online storage solutions other than Dropbox. I already have all of my stuff integrated, I like how it works, they update it often and I don’t see them going anywhere. That’s more important to me than getting a little more free storage from a new competitor.

    When it comes to services like RSS feeds, the key component is my ability to sync my data between web browsers and mobile devices. Since I already use Gmail and have an Android phone and tablet, the integration was perfect for me. The less products I need to manage, the better. I doubt I’ll actually switch to another email provider but the key goal of any business is never give your customers a reason to even try your competitors. Google rarely ever updated Greader and I was fine with that. It is a simple solution that works well for the intended purpose.

    I personally think the market is ready for another major email provider. All of the major players others than Google have a bad image. Nobody wants to use services like Yahoo or Hotmail/Live/Outlook. No matter how many times they update it, it feels like I’m on AOL for some reason. I attempted to switch to Apple’s MobileMe (now iCloud I think) when I had an iPhone and it was awful. If Gmail went away, I honestly don’t know who I would use. That tells me the market is ready for another competitor.

  9. Mushaf said on March 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I completely agree with the article. Google seems to be very confused lately, as if they don’t know why and what exactly they are doing. Frequent changes on their homepage – sometimes white navigaton bar, sometimes black, sometimes hover menu, sometimes no bar at all; same kind of things with YouTube – I lost count of how many interfaces they had experimented with in the recent time, and obviously, retiring a lot of useful services in the name of focusing into other core products. Look at the Bing homepage. Did it receive any major change in the recent years? It still looks great and imo one of the best homepages in today’s internet. You just need to do the right thing and keep it stable. Google isn’t stable currently.

    Once upon a time I used to think Google as a powerhouse that had the money, the brightest people in the workforce and great infrastructure. Now it feels more like just another regular company which can’t carry on with the things it once started with some goodwill. I can tell you it has lost my trust as well. Their logic doesn’t impress me anymore. I can’t understand why Orkut is still around and Reader is going to die in the first place and I’m not convinced whether whatever new service they’re going to introduce won’t disappear suddenly because “not many people were using it”. I’m done with Google. I’m already looking out for more reliable alternatives to the Google services I use and I’m not recommending them to anyone anymore. Good luck with your “do no evil”, Google.

  10. fulltext said on March 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve already taken steps to discontinue my use of Search, Gmail, Calendar, Google + and other services. If they can’t make money off my use of GReader, then I’m not letting them make money off me with other services

  11. Robert said on March 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I think a serious look at Google’s practices may be compelling for some to use personal server-based options instead.

  12. Chris said on March 18, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I’d have to agree whole-heartedly with Martin here. I paid for Google services with my data knowingly, and they violated that trust in the closure of GReader API (the actual service Reader was useful to me, but not nearly as much as its API). I lost out with the closure of Wave and various other products (yeah, I was probably one of the few to really get into the Wave thing).

    If I have to pay money to (another) company for product longevity and stability, rather than with my data (to Google), then so be it. Google of today has proven itself to be nothing like the Google of yester-year, and a company that I now consciously choose to avoid.

  13. Selva said on March 18, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Actually, retiring google reader (the dumbest idea ever by google) has made me lose faith in the services provided by google. I have been from the day google started retiring its services, been looking for alternatives to the services that google provides.I have even started to think about giving about Gmail for good and adopt Outlook.com as it provides a faster interface compared to Gmail. I guess many would even try to move just like me. But again these giants can’t be dependable and phasing out Gmail completely for outlook would still be questionable.

  14. Cohesus said on March 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Im also disappointed with the reader closure. if its not that popular then it cant be too expensive to keep running for the user base it has. id be happy to use it as it is for the next few years with no improvements.

    I will be reluctant to become dependent on Google’s not core services, but i bet Google Keep will be integrated into Google now making it very hard to resist using with my phone.

  15. smu said on March 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I am rapidly loosing faith. I would consider myself a Google power user since the early days. I used Google reader ever since it was presented. I tried scratchpad and notebook but it didn’t convince me at all. I need actually a combined to do and note app with share functions and the ability to attach docs an handwritten notes. But I will be very carefully in using a Google service in the future.
    I am pretty sure that it won’t be long for Google to notice that their business model is based on the users trust that Google is not evil (they should know). If they loose this trust they will lose billions. The users will only give away their data in exchange for google services as long as they trust in Google.

  16. Daniel said on March 18, 2013 at 8:09 am

    GReader closure move was the last straw.

    If i have to pay for an email service (who knows! maybe GMail is next on the list!), then i will.

    1. Daniel said on March 18, 2013 at 8:20 am

      BTW, i’ve started to use Duckduckgo as default search engine.

      Cintanotes is an excellent alternative as note take app.
      There are so many more to choose from!

  17. Yoav said on March 18, 2013 at 7:41 am

    It is certainly difficult to trust Google these days, and it is certainly not close to being the “do no evil” company that it started out as. You do have to wonder if Gmail is next…

  18. KoalaBear said on March 18, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I only put flowers on Google Reader’s grave. The rest I didn’t use / replaced with others.

  19. ilev said on March 18, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Still trusting Google services ? Look at: Google Reader joins graveyard of dead Google products


    Full-time graveyard staff robots clear out withered flowers regularly; only the last 3,000 are shown. :-)

    1. ilev said on March 18, 2013 at 5:38 am
  20. IshtarGate said on March 18, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Hey Google, why even make this? Can’t you just make new posts in Google+ and switch them to private? Totally don’t need another app to do that! Just promote Google+ some more.

    You also don’t need Google Glass! Just switch to Google+ and strap a monitor to your face! And and forget autonomous cars, use your Google+ to tell your driver slave where you want to go!

  21. KoalaBear said on March 18, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Calendar is part of the paid apps. Very profitable. So based on that.

  22. Rupert said on March 18, 2013 at 4:42 am

    I agree completely with the article. After the google reader mess, I wouldn’t trust any of my data to something like Google Keep – as they’d probably close it down when they got bored of it.

    One response above mentions that google won’t shut down, for example, gmail, calendar or google+. That info is based on what? Google seem to shut down anything that doesn’t make them money nowadays, and I can’t imagine Calendar being particularly profitable for example…

    Feedly is so far looking like a pretty good option anyway (although it still needs some work), and hopefully as they now have so many new users, their sync service will get integrated into other reader software.

    1. mike said on March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      i agree with rupert, he has nailed it

  23. KoalaBear said on March 18, 2013 at 4:13 am

    Yes, I did lose some trust. But not for Notebook, which I also used. To replace Notebook with Google Docs is completely logical. You can do everything with Google Docs and they converted / imported everything into Google Docs, informed everyone on time. You also have an app for Google Docs which was not the case for Notebook. So you got even more functionality.

    But with Google Reader it’s different. Yes, the information part you can replace a little with Google+, but it’s not the same type of product. You cannot quickly scan all info, you cannot star it to read later when you have the time. It’s just not efficient. Yes, Reader can be replaced quite easily. But alternatives lack the simple GUI and syncing. Feedly comes a little close, but the app and website is a bit chaotic for me. No simple unread list. “Unread only” filter does not work…

    And Keep will probably NOT be a seperate product, but a new Google Docs type. Unconfirmed though! And they will not shutdown Search, Gmail, Calendar, Google+ or YouTube. So also don’t overreact that they will shutdown everything you use. Reader is a quite specific use-case product only for ‘expert’ users. And yes, we are fanatic users and feeling disappointed that Reader is shutting down.

    1. sades said on March 18, 2013 at 6:27 am

      Why risk it when there’s already a good existing alternative in sight?

      Apologist much?

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