A New Way to Say (Evernote) Hello!

You have probably already heard about Evernote, one of the most popular cross-platform note taking applications out there. Over the years, Evernote has built quite a reputation for itself as the universal note taking and information management platform of choice, with its free apps available on pretty much every desktop and mobile platform out there.

So when they decided to start addressing niche markets with their contact management and food related apps, I was a bit disappointed – because they were only available on iOS! Having used Evernote and pretty much locked myself in its ecosystem for years now, I wanted to check out how these apps improved on the already robust feature set of the parent app. When Evernote Hello finally came to Android earlier this month, I was quick to jump on the bandwagon and take it for a spin.

Cataloging Meetings and Interactions

At its core, Evernote Hello is a contact management or people focused extension to Evernote. The idea is to enable you to record your interactions with people to a knowledge base that you can tap into later so that you can remember those interactions and the context in which they took place.

The central component of this workflow is the contact information screen. Here’s how they recommend you go about it:

  • When you meet someone new, hand them your phone and have them fill in their own contact information for you.
  • They start by entering their name and contact details.
  • For its part, Evernote Hello will automatically save the location where the contact was added.
  • Take the phone back and carry on with your usual business. The contact has been added to a nice looking grid within the app bringing all the focus squarely on the people you meet.

Of course there are other ways to add a contact within the app. You can choose to add the details yourself and then take a picture of the person. Or if the person already is in your contact list, you can simply add them in from there.

The Contacts Grid

The contacts grid puts the focus squarely on the people you meet

What sets the app apart from the run-of-the-mill contact management apps is that the focus is on the meeting more than on the contact information. Hello makes it amply clear that what you are adding is a record of the meeting more than anything else. You can add notes to each contact to mark the event. Also, when the tasks sync with your Evernote account, the title says “Met John Doe at Central Park at 10:30 am”.

Adding a contact

Contacts can be added in one of three ways

Pros and Cons of the New Approach

For most, having others add something to your phone is a drastically new approach to how you collect contact information and feels very awkward to start with. But having used it with a few people already, I found a number of advantages to the approach.

To start with, this ensures I actually collect the necessary information in the first place, which almost never happens when I meet new people. Secondly, the possibility of errors is reduced drastically since the information is coming directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. It is also much less intrusive asking people to take photos of themselves than asking them to pose for you.

For me the most important addition, though, is the location that gets saved with every contact. Contacts you add from a certain location show as related contacts, making it easy to associate with them based on the interactions.

Contact Details

Contact details include, among other things, the location of the meeting

This does come with some caveats, though. Not everyone you meet is going to be good at figuring out how to add information on a touchscreen device. I found myself walking people through the process more often than I would like, in the process seriously worrying about the safety of my phone. Growing as they might be, smartphones are not exactly the universal yet – especially in a country like India – and for people used to hammering the keyboards on cheap feature phones, the touchscreen is often a frustrating experience. Unfortunately, the shiny new device in their hand often ends up taking the brunt of their frustration. And then there are the differences between touchscreen devices and their keyboards that complicate matters further.

Sure, you can choose to add the information yourself, but have you ever tried keeping drooling relatives away from that funky new cutting-edge smartphone you just pulled out of your pocket?

Always Available and Searchable

Everything you add to Evernote Hello goes and sits in your Evernote account, automatically synchronizing it with your notes on every connected device. All this information is therefore available to you irrespective of where you are or what device you have on hand. Need to look for a contact but don’t have your phone or computer handy? Just find any computer and log in to evernote.com, and all your information is right there at your fingertips.

Looking up contacts in Evernote Hello is simple and powerful at the same time. Simply tap the search icon and start typing whatever you remember of the interaction – be it the person’s name, location, phone number, e-mail ID or any other information that you can remember. Evernote will not just search through the contacts within the app, but also in your contacts list on the phone. (Contacts within the app will of course show up higher along with the location where they were added to your phone.)

The ability to search by date is mysteriously missing, though. Either that or I couldn’t figure out how to do it other than by scrolling through the grid of faces sorted chronologically.

The app also connects with your LinkedIn profile, letting you search for new contacts on the professional network and automatically connect you with them right from within the app. Given Evernote’s heavy focus on enterprise users in the past, this fits right in on their pitch as the preferred information management app for professionals.

Wrapping Up

Evernote Hello is a brave new step in the right direction, if you ask me. Frustrations for new users notwithstanding, it makes the process of capturing and retrieving finer details of meeting with new people a productive experience. That it seamlessly connects with the most popular note taking platform in the world and makes your information available on the web and every major computing device only makes it that much more appealing. Plus, it comes at the unbeatable price of free. Now how does one get around that?


Summary

A unique people-related information management app from Evernote, Hello makes keeping track of the people you meet super easy and fun. It brings a fresh new approach to capturing information and makes it available to you irrespective of your location, time or device availability.

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