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Moleskine and Evernote’s Smart Notebook

This is a pretty interesting project. The descriptions I’ve read seem really convoluted, but the video above makes perfect sense.

Moleskine is a company known for its notebooks and journals, and anyone who follows me knows how much of a junkie I am for their products. Evernote is a respected app that allows users to capture images, notes, sounds, and more, and make them files that are accessible across multiple platforms: files you create on your computer can be accessed on your cell phone or tablet device, and the other way around.

It seemed that Moleskine was interested in taking a similar approach with its own app in the Apple App Store, but the results didn’t measure up to the brand’s prestigious reputation: it has a two-star user rating, with customers complaining about a complicated user interface, excessive bugs. One of the users said, “What a colossal let down! I would have expected a lot more from a company with such a rich history.” The current listing of the app says that the app will shortly be removed from the iTunes store on September 1, 2012. On Friday, the company released a new iPad-exclusive app called Moleskine Journal, and hopefully they’ve learned from their mistakes.

This Evernote collaboration seems like the best decision: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The “Smart Notebook” comes with a page design that uses dotted lines, which apparently helps phone cameras capture page images more clearly. The idea is to note and sketch on paper, the way that you’re used to, and use your phone to take photos of the pages to have them accessible on all of your devices. Each notebook also comes with a three-month subscription to Evernote Premium, which includes, larger upload sizes, the ability to take notebooks offline, and other features.

The idea isn’t foolproof, because there’s still the inconvenience of taking photos of all of your notes: it almost seems like it would feel like you’re doing everything twice. Also, the video says that the app can read handwritten notes and allow you to search through files by keywords. That’s a brilliant-sounding feature, but I would have to see that to believe it. But the tagging stickers to organize things are a nice touch – that’s actually something that would help with the physical notebooks as well. But all things considered, this seems to actually address most of the concerns in my list of why Moleskines are better than cell phones, and come a step closer to pairing the physical and digital worlds of note-taking.

Still, I’m pretty interested in seeing what this has to offer. I’m a Moleskine junkie anyway, but this is cool because it seems to use the formula that most collaborations succeed with: letting each company do what they do best. Moleskine does physical notebooks better than just about anyone, and Evernote has held the reigns for digital notebooks for a while now. Everything looks good on paper – and online.