One of the most prominent apps when thinking about productivity is without a doubt the green note-taking app with the friendly elephant called Evernote. There are apps available for virtually every platform and device imaginable, and it will sync virtually anything from photos to large files. There is one area where Evernote currently is lacking though — the actual note-taking and organizing notes into notebooks and the user experience to make that happen. The recently released app called Alternote has set out to change all that.
Alternote takes the Evernote experience to the next level with its uncluttered and visually appealing interface, making writing and organizing the main focus. Using Alternates does however not infer the need to abandon the normal Evernote ecosystem. Since Alternote syncs directly to the Evernote sync service, the apps will happily and seamlessly coexist.
The main interface is divided into three columns just like regular Evernote, with a sidebar containing various views into all notes, and provides the ability to star notes for easy access. Notes added to the shortcuts list in Evernote will however not sync over to Alternote automatically. The second column contains a list of all notes within the selected notebook, tag or stack and is available in two variants where the normal view will show the title, and a snippet of the note text, while the compact mode will only show the title.
There is a fantastic distraction-free editing mode available, which serves well for long-from content, especially in full-screen mode. It does not however have the excellent “typewrite mode” present in Byword, which means that the current line being written to always remain centered on screen.
Other notable features include a low-contrast night-mode for writing in the dark. The biggest extra feature however, is the support for Markdown when writing. This function comes with a big caveat which could lead the user to refrain from using Markdown mode for the time being. While it is certainly possible to write Markdown, when closing the note however, the text will be converted to normal Evernote markup1, which means that the next time the note is opened, it will be an RTF note instead2.
I have been using Alternote for the last couple of days, but it only took a few minutes of being exposed to the app for it to replace Evernote as the go-to note-taking app on all my Macs. I immediately fell in love with the interface and user experience, and found that filing notes and similarly browsing notebooks was a particularly pleasant experience, which is something I have always struggled with when using the normal Evernote app.
Alternote is what the official Evernote client should have been. Lean, beautiful, fast and easy to use. Its user interface sucks you in and makes you never want to leave.
Even though Alternote is written in HTML masquerading as a native app, it does its job remarkably well without being slow or unresponsive. The only real tell was looking at the about box, where the underlying technology is revealed.