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Evernote Peek, The First iPad Smart Cover App (evernote.com)
253 points by bjonathan on June 8, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

It looks cute, but for a flash card app other interaction methods are just as quick and easy, maybe more so. Now, if something like this could be used so that a person could see, for example, their next appointment by peeking, but fully opening the cover activated the iPad normally, that would be cool.

yeah, I agree. I tried it and it was very interesting but the interaction was very bad. For instance, you can't peek then close and think ... once you peek you have to open all the way or it will move to next question.

I appreciate the imaginativeness of it but it isn't really an enjoyable interface for long term use.

This is nifty enough, but Evernote has so many problems with its client UI design that I hate to see them spending front-end engineer development time on side diversions like this. I recently let my Evernote Premium subscription lapse and migrated my notes to another system because I was so frustrated with the painful user experience across their various clients, despite their core product idea being so awesome and their syncing/OCR/backend services working well.

I have the same impression about Evernote - I used Windows client, iPhone app, and online version (website), and all three kind of sucks (bloated UI, slowness...).

I myself migrated to simplenote. It's more lightweight and text-only, but I can live with that. iPhone client is quite decent and for Windows there is ResophNotes, or one can just use the online version. Everything is stored in text files, which is another advantage.

What'd you switch to, out of curiosity? I loved the idea of it but the UI kept me from ever really getting into it.

I'd like to know what you switched to?

As a Premium subscriber to EverNote, this news about a very bad flash card app indicates to me that they aren't serious about improving their core product and instead want to capitalize on the brand with gimmicky spinoffs.

Basically I just lost a lot of confidence in the EverNote brand.

I replaced most of my Evernote usage with Markdown-formatted text files in Dropbox, using Elements as an iOS client. Dropbox gives me syncing, versioning, and online (read-only) access, and Elements lets me store all the notes locally on my iOS devices (as well as just being an otherwise fantastic app). There's no support for tags, but for the way my notes are organized a light folder structure works just as well.

I'm still using Evernote for collecting receipts, though. The combination of some smart Gmail filters (Amazon/iTunes/Steam/etc receipts all auto-forward to my Evernote email address) and the automatic PDF OCR (I've got a document feeder scanner) still make it simpler than anything else for that. I reference my receipts so rarely that I can put up with the painful UI once every few months.

Very clever use of the smart cover, but in the end I don't feel many people will use it.

Its cleverness relies on having an iPad 2 and a smart-cover, which segments it. Then, from a usability standpoint, I feel it would be more annoying to continue to lift up a cover than to tap the screen to reveal the answer.

But isn't the whole point to target people who want a novel use for their smart-cover?

It does not actually require Apple's Smart Cover; any of the third-party covers which are using magnets would work the same way. And there are already quite a few of those.

Even if we change it from "needing a smart cover" to "needing a magnetic cover", the same general principal holds: You won't just need an iPad 2, you'll also need a cover that takes advantage of this capability, which will cut down your audience by a good amount.

I would be willing to bet that the intersection of users with iPad 2's and users with iPad 2 + Smart Cover is very large.

Not only that, but it's literally the cutting edge and folks with most disposable income... ie, a great market even if it the covers aren't a large % of iPad2 owners.

why is evernote diverging so far from their core product?

there are other flash card apps that already do this way better and i dont see evernote catching up anytime soon

the peek thing looks cool but it's not a useful gimmick because

1. you want the ability to use longer questions as well as images and video in your flashcards

2. you want to be able to move on to the next question quickly without the carpel-tunnel implications of physically unfolding this cover

3. proper flashcard learning requires more complex interaction than this. Each time a card is finished one needs to indicate how well they learned the card (among other things) In order to do this people would have to use 2 hands here.

The evernote marketing team is at the top of their game, as are the UI designers. But this is just brand cannibalization -- leveraging the evernote brand to get sales in an unrelated market with an inferior product based on a gimmick.

Last I checked the app was free. Sounds to me like a product they thought would be fun to make, so they made it. I dig it.

Sounds like you dig it because you're not a serious user of either flash card apps or EverNote.

Today I learned there are people who consider themselves serious users of flash card apps.

I use Evernote every day and it doesn't annoy me as a diversion from their core product. The smart Smart Cover integration is cool, at least.

if your job involves any amount of memorization, you should be using a flash card app with spaced repetition

I use evernote all day every day, and I use mostly homemade flash cards. Evernote doesn't owe you anything if you're a free user, and if you're premium, then you obviously dig it enough to pay for it, so what's the problem?

Cute, but flipping the cover back and forth is kind of low-tech right? I think this is a better product: http://ankisrs.net/docs/AnkiMobile.html

It's an interesting use of the Smart Cover, but can it be a serious competitor to other flash card replacement apps since there's no easy way to report success or failure by lifting/replacing the cover?

Tapping the screen?

Also, is right/wrong reporting really that important? I don't have a way to do it with paper flashcards...

I find being able to report right/wrong answers makes flashcard programs much more effective. Once you try a program like Mnemosyne or SuperMemo, you'll never go back to paper flashcards.


or anki, the OSS version of supermemo:


or Quizlet.com :)

Tapping the screen eliminates the benefit of using the cover alone as input and makes handheld use of this app even more difficult.

One might not be able to keep score easily with paper flashcards, but that doesn't mean it's not useful. I'm not that familiar with handheld flash card app space, but I could see an app providing score tracking and more frequent interweaving of previously missed answers, and an overview of immediate feedback can be helpful.

If theres no advantage over paper flashcards then why use such an expensive device instead of $1 paper?

Statistics are pretty much the only advantage I can see for using an iPad here instead of physical notecards, unless you have so many notecards that it would be a pain to carry them around which seems like a very obscure use case to me.

> I don't have a way to do it with paper flashcards ...

Most people separate paper flashcards into two piles as they go, one for those they got right and one for those they got wrong.

1. Tapping the screen means you're using 2 hands.

2. If you aren't using spaced repetition statistics with your flash cards... you're doing it wrong.

This is a very clever idea. This 'tactic' could be used with a lot of different apps too, maybe even a notification bar?

That includes your mail, facebook updates, twitter mentions, weather, etc. Had that idea some time back. Could be cool!

While the use of app + smart cover is ingenious, what I am more excited about is that this opens to a possibility of a whole slew of "smart accessories" + apps that utilises the magnets on the iPad screen.

Which got me thinking...what sort of really clever apps/accessories can one make that utilises these magnets?

I.e. Perhaps a puzzle game that uses "magnetic chopsticks" to interact with it. Or maybe an organizer app with "magnetic labels" where when you cover different parts of the screen, it pulls up a different functionality.

Very creative. I really like this. Well played, sirs.

Curious, how do the capture the event of the cover lifting?

They don't. They capture the active/inactive event.

Try tap the home button and re-open the app.

Could you elaborate? Is the inactive event triggered when the screen is completely covered, and any uncovering triggers the active event?

There are some cases where these events are triggered, open and close the Smart Cover is one of them.

You can read the following API documentation for more info:


My guess is they do the switch of question when applicationWillResignActive is being called. Simple as that.

Please someone create a bluetooth poker app like this! It would be a very expensive round of poker but imagine people sitting around peeking at their cards via their ipad. Brilliant.

The problem with a poker app that utilizes this is that you would be showing your cards to other players. Poker players peek at their cards face down, not face up like an iPad.

All the people bitching against it wished they thought it first. Its a clever and simple idea. Good work.

This is such a great example of excess.

iPad 2: 500$+ Smart Cover: 40$ Evernote Peek: 0$.


Pack of index cards: 2$

Let me guess, you wear one of those giant trenchcoats in which you keep a film camera, a TV, a travel Scrabble kit, a rolodex, a piano, a homing pigeon, an encyclopedia, a barometer, a thermometer, a bubble level, a compass, a paintbrush and paints, an ocarina, a walkie-talkie, and of course, a pack of flashcards =)

An ocarina? Really?

There's an app for that.™ http://ocarina.smule.com/

now I find myself needing an ocarnia .... thanks

I carry two in case the first breaks.

Absolutely :)

Calculator: $5 Address book: $3 Notepad: $2 Camera: $40 ...

How is creating a useful application for an expensive device that replaces an inferior took an example of excess? It's not really like people buy iPads simply to replace a pack of notecards and nothing else.

What you really want is Anki for iPad, which is a GOOD flash card program that uses modern neuroscience to improve your learning. And it's free.

Also doesn't force you to lift up a magnet in meat space to use it.

How is it that in all the years of public schools and university throwing flash cards at us that I have never, until this thread, heard of spaced repetition systems? I looked up the program you recommended and will try it out for sure, but here's my questions for you: Is this something that you do everyday to maintain, how many subjects do you use this system on at one time and how long each day do you spend total doing this? Thanks for the info and recommendation - looking forward to using it.

Everything that I memorize I put in there. Makes it way easier. When I go to a conference or something and take notes, I put the key points into Anki so i won't forget.

If you do it every day you'll get amazing results, however I'm not that dedicated, but do it multiple times per week anyway.

Basically it makes my life a lot easier to have certain things memorized, and Anki makes memorizing stuff easier.

A lot of people (esp nerds) believe it is a sign of weakness to use flash cards. It's their loss.

upwards of 50 million in venture capital for 500k in paid users. icloud killed more than just a few yesterday.

Ingenious I think! A fun way to learn!


awesome guys...really innovative!

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