Evernote is a service that provides "external memory." To over-simplify what it does, Evernote enables you to dump content into a personal and secure space, and easily recall it with search.
Some of the highlights of Evernote include the ability to take a picture of words (say, a restaurant menu or a white board) and index the words in the picture for later search. It also works cross platform; you can add, search and access the same personal content from the Web site, a desktop app, or any number of cell phone apps.
During its short life, Evernote has gained a small but incredibly loyal following. The service follows the "freemium" model, meaning that it's free unless you choose to upgrade to a premium account. However, Evernote claims that many users upgrade out of "love," rather than because they need the premium features.
Evernote has won the affections of users by doing a very small number of tasks, but doing them very well. Now, Evernote has unveiled a new program of third-party extensions and features that transforms the service into a must-use, all-purpose tool for anyone serious about using information.
Say Hello to the Evernote TrunkThe Evernote Trunk is, according to Evernote, "a dynamic catalog designed to help users discover complementary products, applications and content that enrich their Evernote experience."
No, it's not an "app store," but an API program that enables other companies to add features to the Web and desktop versions, and soon the iPad version. The Trunk is launching with 100 initial apps from 67 companies.
Here are just a few powerful examples of what you can already find in the Evernote Trunk.
Business card scanningMost Evernote users I know already use their cell phone cameras to take pictures of business cards (before throwing them out). Doing so enables you to later search for any of the words on the business card to bring up the whole card.
Now, a company called ScanBizCards can suck the data out of those images and enable you to drop them into your actual contacts database.
Receipt scanningAnother major current use for Evernote is receipts. But a company now using the Trunk enables you to extract the data from those receipts so you can more easily use them for expensing business purchases.
TranscriptionTalk and your words turn into text. Companies such as Dial2Do, pliq.me, QuickTate are offering various ways to achieve the same result. Even if you don't want voice notes transformed into text, the services make voice notes searchable!
PDF annotationYou can already bring PDF documents into Evernote. But now at least two companies are enabling you to annotate those documents. PDFpen, Nitro PDF Reader enable you transform read-only PDF documents into documents you can actually use.
Digitizing newspapersA Swiss company called Kooaba offers a product called Paperboy that enables you to snap a picture of a newspaper page on your cell phone, and have the digital version dropped into your Evernote workspace. The bad news is that it currently works only with German-language newspapers. The good news is that they're working on English-language newspapers.
Content subscriptionEvernote Trunk features a category called "Notebook," which enables publications to send magazine articles, blog posts and other content directly into the Notebooks of subscribers (without affecting monthly upload allowances). "Make Magazine," "Cool Hunting," California Home and Design," and "BlackBook Magazine" are already available.
MicrobloggingThe popular Twitter client Seesmic now lets you both send your tweets to Evernote, and also share Evernote content from Seesmic.
These are just a few of the new items available already in the Trunk. And the initial collection is just the beginning. We can expect thousands of additional features and capabilities to come about because of this initiative. Currently, all the Trunk items are free. In the future, Evernote plans to unveil both free and paid offerings.
I can't tell you how many times I've talked with software and content companies and asked if they have plans to integrate with Evernote. Most of them have mumbled vague, NDA-determined platitudes about "looking at future integration." Now we know. The Evernote love-fest is coming. I think the Trunk will catapult Evernote into the big leagues.
Evernote was already a must-have application for anyone serious about capturing and remembering information. You can't beat the price: It's free, unless you need colossal amounts of data or to share data. And with the new Trunk initiative and new capabilities coming online, how can anyone resist using Evernote?