Evernote Android app on a Chromebook review

I am slowly but steadily getting “converted” to the Cult of Evernote. So I was excited to try out the Android version of the Evernote app running in the Android runtime “virtual box” in Chrome OS. This is my experience with it, using a 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook (the late 2012 model)…

Using the Evernote Android app on Chrome OS

Overall, I must say this turned out to be better than I expected. In practical terms, it gives you the option to use Evernote Off-line, and that’s one big plus over using the Evernote Web Client. During my use, this has been reliable in terms of syncing later. As far as I can tell, I haven’t lost any new note or note update or edit by using the “ChromeDroid” app (that’s my nickname for Android apps running on Chrome OS). So your Chromebook can be repurposed into a dedicated Evernote client device 🙂

Sync appears to be happening on its own (if it’s activated in the Settings), you don’t have to manually Sync. Of course if you are using it Off-line and then want to sync it all, it’s faster to manually Sync.

I’ve been using this in parallel with the exciting new Multi-Sign-In feature (blog-post on that coming later), and it behaves as expected. The Evernote app belongs to the Google account that launched it, you can’t use it the other multi-signin Google accounts. However, you can cut and paste content (urls, text, etc) from the other accounts to the Evernote app! (I haven’t test this yet: login to two different Evernote accounts using the Multi-Sign-In feature – mainly because I only have one Evernote account so far).

A nice benefit of the Chromebook keyboard, the Back Arrow is very handy for Evernote navigation, especially on a Chromebook that doesn’t have a touchscreen and doesn’t have the physical “Back” button of some Android devices or “Stylus” input (eg Notes, Tegra Notes, Surface, etc).

When you initially set it up, especially if you have a non-empty Evernote account, make sure you have enough time, power, and high-speed internet. This is the same as setting things up on a brand new Android phone or tablet, it will have to download headers and snippets and do whatever else it needs to do to get settled.

Problems and Issues

  1. The Evernote app cannot be made full screen. This was a known issue coming into this, but it is still an issue. The “secret plan” of hitting the maximize window button does not work either 🙂 On a 11.6-inch Chromebook, the ChromeDroid app is in a box that measures roughly 7 inches by 4.75 inches with a 8.5 inch diagonal. I am not sure why this couldn’t be made bigger? I am using the Evernote Android app full-screen on 10-inch Android tablets that have a 10-inch diagonal. The silver lining of the smaller window, you can have it side by side with the native Chrome OS music player (not Google Play Music; the small music app that starts when you click on an mp3 using the file manager)
  2. Occasionally I get “Activity Evernote isn’t responding” with a “Do you want to close it?” follow-up with the options “Wait” or “OK” (to close it). I haven’t noticed any negative side-effects from this – other than the annoyance
  3. About once a day, it pesters me to connect Evernote to my Google account Contacts. I wish this was only asked once and not in such a pestering fashion. I do not want to connect my Google Contacts with Evernote.
  4. the Document Camera is not an option 🙁
  5. Evernote’s Home Screen shotcut did not work

Hacks

While the app is forced to run in a smaller window that cannot be made full-size, you can use the Accessibility options and increase the screen zoom size. This is the “Enable Screen Magnifier” option in the Advanced Settings. This in return makes the Evernote Android window larger than the available screen size, it overflows, so now you have the opposite problem. However, if you are trying to read small text or look at a diagram/picture in more detail, this definitely helps! You can add the accessibility option in the Chromebook’s Quick Settings for faster access if you want to switch back and forth.

Evernote supports handwriting but my Chromebook does not have a touchscreen. However, you can draw some things on the screen with this tip: hold down the touchpad with one finger, and use a different finger to draw. Finger from the same hand or different hand, whatever works best for you – trial and error. This gives your drawing finger a lot more flexibility!