Update: SwiftKey Note was eventually discontinued. Swiftkey still exists on the app store as an alternative keyboard. Original article below.
|SwiftKey logo copyright, SwiftKey|
Summary: SwiftKey Note is an iOS app for quickly getting notes into Evernote via predictive typing. What they don’t tell you is that you can get your notes out of Evernote too.
As much as I love Evernote (and I do), one of my frustrations with it is how slow it is to write notes from my iPod Touch.
I don’t have an iPhone, so I take my Touch with me wherever I go and if I think of an idea or need to jot something down, then I would naturally want to do it in Evernote.
However, it takes Evernote such a long time to open, then synchronise my notes, then add new new note and finally allow me to actually start typing that I’m sometimes left hanging.
To be fair, Evernote recently updated their synchronisation engine with some massive performance improvements, but I’m still left with an app that displays the loading “splash” screen – a bright green background with a white elephant silhouette – for far too long.
Previously, I have managed to get round this by using the built in iOS/iCloud Notes app, which opens almost immediately and allows me to get typing.
If I really needed to keep and categorise those notes, then I would copy and paste them into Evernote later.
This works fine for short notes, but what if I want to write longer notes?
I’m thinking specifically about the text of my blog articles, which are easy to update from a desktop PC, but not so easy to add to from my iPod.
Enter SwiftKey Note, an application for iOS which appears to kill two birds with one stone.
The app itself is deceptively simple, giving you access to your Evernote notes, notebooks and tags, with a replacement text editing and keyboard screen.
It’s the sister of a similar app that SwiftKey has for the Android phone, although “Note” doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as its sibling yet.
It starts up quickly and after authorising the app to access your Evernote account, lets you add a new note and get typing extremely quickly.
|Predictive typing in action|
Nonetheless, speedy typing alone is not enough to get me to move from Evernote over to another application, particularly when they are installed on the same machine.
But SwiftKey has another ace up its sleeve: as you type, it tries to predict what you want to write and displays 3 words in the area between the keyboard and the text (see right).
Simply select the one you want and the program puts that word in the right place, so you can carry on typing.
The app is intelligent enough to place spaces and punctuation in the right locations and is supposed to get better at guessing what your next words will be, the more you use it.
In addition, when it links to your Evernote account, it analyses the text in your existing notes, so that should place me at an advantage with nearly 3000 notes in my account.
I have only just started using it in the last week, so I can’t promise amazing results as yet.
However, I can report that it is already learning and on a few occasions has successfully predicted 2 words in a row – that means 2 taps to write 2 words, where it would have been a tap for each letter before.
The downside to all this, as an iOS user, is that SwiftKey Note only works with one app at the moment.
While it taps into Evernote, there is no integration with the built in Apple apps, such as Notes or Mail, or any other apps for that matter.
This is in stark contrast to SwiftKey’s Android app “Keyboard”, which I understand will work with any 3rd party application.
One can only hope that they will update Note to mimic Keyboard – and that they do it soon.
There is obviously much promise here, but not much indication as to where it will lead.
I will update this article later to let you know how things go!
In the meantime, one oddity I have found with SwiftKey Note is that it is easy to get a note into Evernote from SwiftKey (just add a note in SwitKey and will magically be there when you next sync Evernote), but it’s not so obvious how it can work the other way around.
Even the help text doesn’t explain it, or at least, I couldn’t find anything that told me.
The answer lies in the tagging that is used in both SwiftKey and Evernote.
When you first open up SwiftKey, it grabs all your existing Evernote tags and notebooks, so you can add them to new notes that you create.
If you watch closely, you will also see that any new notes you add are also given the tag “SwiftKey” automatically (see Screenshot, below).
|SwiftKey Note adds “SwiftKey” tag to all notes|
It turns out that this this is all we need to do: just go into Evernote on any device, add the “SwiftKey” tag to any notes you are interested in and then sync.
After that, go back into SwiftKey Note, sync it by swiping down on your screen and voila, the tagged notes will appear in all their glory, ready for you to wreak havoc.
You can get SwiftKey Note from the App Store.
Do you have a top tip for SwiftKey Note or Evernote?
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I'm Tim Bader, founder of ErgonomicToolbox.com and the Ergonomic Toolbox training course. I am a writer, author, blogger and church leader, and I help people to overcome RSI and live comfortably with technology. When I'm not writing, helping or training people, I live at home with my wife, two teenage kids and Playstation.
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