Thursday, September 11, 2014

Will Evernote and Other Apps for Android Kill Chromebooks?

+Google Chrome announced the first Android Apps ported to Chromebooks today. Personally, I am a big fan of +Evernote. Over the years, it has proven itself a great service where I can manage information. Naturally, when I read that Evernote is one of the first apps ported, I was excited.

I don't know if this is a big "however". In the past, I have not used the web version of Evernote because of the number of notes that I have in it, around 4,000. My Evernote database is somewhere north of 2 GB. This is not very much data, considering that I have hundreds of GBs of data in other products, especially +Google Drive. Back to my point, using the browser version is slow given the volume of HTML necessary to render my account.

The slowness is understandable. At one time, I experimented with single file Wikis that ran in an html file. They worked OK up to a point. As the HTML file grew larger, browsers struggled. I have a demo Evernote account that I use for workshops, which has fewer notes. It runs considerably faster than my own personal account on the browser.

The Windows and Android apps have been my go-to ways of accessing Evernote. Even the Windows Phone version is rather slick.

The Windows and Mac versions download your entire Evernote database and store it locally on your drive. This gives you quick access to all your information. The Android version stores thumbnails of your notes locally and downloads the data as you need it. This also means that you need an Internet connection to access notes that aren't cached, unless you select a Notebook to store locally.

Chromebooks and Android devices have similar problems in that they only have a few GB of storage available. My Android Evernote database is 500 MB. Presumably, the Evernote for Chromebook will also take up 500 MB on my Chromebook since it is a port from Android. And, as the database grows, it will take a larger percentage of my 16 GB SSD.

One of the options I mentioned earlier, is to allow a Notebook in Evernote to keep local copies of your notes on your phone or tablet. The Chromebook port also offers the option to keep local copies.

I can imagine somebody with much a much larger database than me will at some point choose to sync a multigigabyte database on their Chromebook. My full database is a meager 2 GB, so I'm still safe if I were to sync all my Notebooks. However, imagine shared Chromebooks in which users are also Evernote fans. If you have multiple users with Evernote installed, it can really eat up your local storage.

But, this can also apply to every other app you install on your Chromebook, as they become available in the future. As users, we will have to start buying larger SSDs and upgrading our Chromebooks to make room for the apps. Otherwise, we'll start seeing problems as our Chrome devices run out of storage.

In my title, I don't mean that running Android apps will kill off the Chromebook. Rather, I mean that there is the strong possibility that we'll bog down our machines with apps to the point that they become unusable. I certainly hope not. But, having apps on my Chromebook could mean a little more freedom from my other devices.

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