Google Keep: If Google launches a note-taking service, would you trust it to stick around?

Google may be preparing to launch a new online note-taking service called Google Keep. Android Police noticed that it went live briefly yesterday, but the Google Keep website is no longer active.

Overall it looks like a decent tool for jotting notes and saving and organizing them online so you can access them from any web browser or mobile device. But despite the permanent-sounding name “Google Keep,” I have to wonder whether it’s a good idea to start relying on a new Google product of this type.

Google Keep

Google recently caused a bit of a fuss by announcing plans to shutter Google Reader, its online RSS reader which has been in operation since 2005. While the company says it’s closing Reader because there aren’t enough users to justify keeping it open, there are at least a few hundred thousand loyal users, many of whom have signed petitions asking Google to keep Reader alive, and even more who have already made the move to alternative services.

Fortunately it’s not that hard to move your data from Google Reader to another RSS reader: just export an OPML file and import it into the RSS reader of your choice.

But Reader isn’t the only service Google has shuttered. A few years ago the company also killed Google Notebook -- a service designed to let you jot down notes and store them online where they were accessible across devices. Sound familiar?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Slate has put together a Google Graveyard showing some of the many services Google decided to launch (or acquire) and then pull the plug on including Google Wave, iGoogle, Google Health, Google Desktop, Picnik, Google Listen, Knol and Jaiku, just to name a few.

There are certain core Google products that aren’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon. Google Search, Gmail, Android, Chrome, Google Drive (or at least Docs), and Google Calendar all seem reasonably safe. Actually, the only reason Calendar seems safe is because it’s pretty important to Android and Chrome.

Over the past decade Google has become much more than a search engine. The company regularly launches new products and services that are experiments which may only be tangentially related to the company’s core businesses. Some of them, like Gmail and Calendar become essential to millions of users and help generate revenue by keeping people constantly logged into their Google accounts (which helps Google serve ads even if you don’t see ads directly in Calendar or some other web apps).

So if and when Google officially launches Google Keep, it’s anyone’s guess how long it’ll stick around. While the company has been pretty good about letting users export data from existing and dying apps through the Google Takeout site lately, it’s still a pain in the behind to have to migrate your data because you had been using a convenient service which is no longer around.

Sure, there’s no guarantee that Evernote, OneNote, or other cloud-based note apps will be around in 5 years either. But given Google’s recent track record I’d be a especially wary of starting to rely on a service like Google Keep.

  • Brian Sturgill

    I just wrote about Google killing trust last night on my blog:
    http://computingcompendium.blogspot.com/2013/03/are-google-or-any-cloud-based-products.html
    With the Reader fiasco, Google has called into question the whole notion of Cloud apps being reliable. When you install apps on the desktop, they still work if the vendor dies or moves on.

  • boonesimpson

    Google should “open source” the google reader code (similar to what they did with WAVE) and allow another provider to run a clone, additionally someone would likely make a local server version, so you could run your own on a web server or NAS box.

    The issue Google seems to have with reader isn’t users, but that the users are not using the G+ pieces parts.

    Maybe Google will hear the cries of users and Merge Reader and Currents into a web/mobile product.

  • ddevine

    Trusting a proprietary service to stick around is a silly notion.

    As for the note taking I rather just use OwnCloud… My own instance, not that it matters at all! I can migrate to somebody else’s on a whim. With open formats, protocols and applications you can’t lose.

  • 1stkorean

    Knowing Google, they will search your notes in the hopes of sending you ads to make more money. I would not trust Google to give me the right time of day. Google is PURE EVIL!

    • aiden9

      *Knowing Google, they will have a computer scan your notes for keywords and then place relevant ads that were going to be there anyways because you either put up with ads or pay for a service.

      Fixed that for you.Not sure why people are still getting their underwear in a bunch over stuff like that. The ads are going to be there one way or another(unless you use a paid service), I’d rather have sports/technology/other interests there vs tampon and conditioner ads.

      • ddevine

        Of course at that level there is nothing wrong with the service at all. The problem (besides lack of control over your data) is that they are creating a giant “honey pot” of data that governments are fighting to get hold of. What their analysis say about you today may not be problematic, but what about tomorrow?

        As a westerner it is easy for me to just dismiss this notion and believe our governments don’t do that, but the fact is that data from honey pots such as Google’s and Facebook’s is used against people – take for example http://ur1.ca/d1csy

        …And for people in war-torn countries or countries experiencing civil unrest security of such data and communications is a matter of life and death. Imagine “I voted for person X” – a throw-away comment for us, but not so in a different situation.

      • aiden9

        As a westener as well, I know we already have a bigger problem than “honey pots” of data held by Google and Facebook. Our government is going straight for the source: the ISPs and phone companies. At least with Google and Facebook *YOU* choose what to share, with the ISPs and phone companies it is all or nothing.

      • ddevine

        Ah yes, I neglected to mention that.

        So a way to help deal with that is to use a network gateway to help secure your communications. The FreedomBox project is working on exactly that – and of course they aim to make it as simple as possible to install on a device or to even just buy a device ready to roll. They also aim to provide the ability to run secure federated social networking and other network services as close to “one click install” as possible.

        It is sad we need any of these solutions at all.

  • http://twitter.com/Rorschach55 Rorschach

    I use evernote like the majority of the (android) population but if Google had a solid note taking service in form of an app and access via a laptop or desktop browser i’d definitely use it.

  • http://twitter.com/EricSeale Eric

    I put my notes inside Tasks which sync to all my devices. Seems OK and the app was cheap. I guess there’s a free build too.

  • http://twitter.com/MMontgomerYY Kev Montgomery

    Can’t you already do this in Google Drive ?

  • Eric Jones

    I wouldn’t be worried at all. Notice what gets cut? All the products they couldn’t monetize. Keep will be part of drive, which is monetized for storage and part of Gapps. They might integrate coupons with grocery lists as well. Who knows.

  • http://twitter.com/dlundh Daniel Lundh

    I pay for Evernote. I’m also in the process of moving away from GMail to self-hosted mail. The whole Reader fiasco was a real burn.

  • http://geekfun.com/ Erik S.

    I will be using fewer and fewer Google services.

    They keep sacrificing perfectly good tools to try and prop up Google +

    I don’t really trust them any more. They threw their weight around a lot with RSS in 2009 or so and really did harm to the community and ecosystem around it, and now , just a few years later, they are abandoning the space entirely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregor.didenko Gregor Didenko

    same here… after the kill of g-reader aint going to trust them my data anymore

  • PaxD75

    One thing I give Google lots of credit for are the import/export features they make available on virtually all their products. It’s one of the things I look for in any product. I don’t usually find it from other nameless big-tech companies. So yeah… I would try another service from them.

    As far as Slate’s Google Graveyard article – I saw a few “dead” products that were integrated into modern ones and a number of really unpopular ones. Killing Reader was/is huge, however. If there’s one product that most heavy-duty bloggers and tech-savvy people rely on, it’s a good online (sync-capable) RSS Reader. This effects, arguably, the most vocal (comments) and influential group (viral) on the web. We’re hearing from them now…

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      Yeah… honestly I figured that it would just be whiny bloggers like me who were annoyed that Google was killing Reader. I’ve been surprised just how vocal non-bloggers and journalists have been in comments, forums, petitions, etc.

      It’s still probably not enough for Google to reverse its decision — but it does show there’s a large enough group of folks looking to use this sort of service for it be a viable business for smaller companies.

      Personally it’s made me start to think about setting up an RSS reader on a personal server though. I value the ability to check my feeds across multiple devices, but I’m not sure I want to trust another solution to stick around indefinitely.

      On the other hand, I’ve been pretty impressed with Feedly lately…