The Zimbabwean Perspective

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Microsoft OneNote needs to STEAL this Google Keep Notes feature

“If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best”

Note taking apps are arguably secretly the best thing in my sometimes. And as you’ve probably seen in my love for a good note taking app is something I personally always find praise worthy. This is why when I played around with Google’s keep notes app recently, I completely fell in love with the offline voice transcription feature, and I think Microsoft should totally steal it!

Now despite trying out different note apps, I’ve stayed a Microsoft OneNote user simply because it’s the best multi-platform notes app around. I know Evernote and Keep notes fans will probably try and fight me on that, but it’s honestly the truth. If you use multiple platforms (like I do) and want your notes always updated and exactly where you left them, OneNote is the way to go. But that doesn’t mean Ive never noticed the allure or advantages of other apps, especially on mobile. Evernote’s mobile first approach is shown in their UI design, and even Samsung notes is one of the best parts about new Samsung phones now.

But while those features gain some admiration, Google’s offline voice transcription API that it has in Keep notes might as well be magic. Basically, if you’re speaking in a supported language, Google literally takes everything you say and turns it into text offline!

This isn’t a completely new feature to be honest, in fact it debuted in 2019 on the Pixel 4 and certain android 10 devices. Google featured it as part of its on-device machine learning and speech recognition algorithms. Its best showcase was the Google Recorder app, that did the same but also added the ability to pinpoint specific parts of the recording and show the text that goes along with it for those who may need to do some quick edits if the AI got what they meant wrong. Keep Notes doesn’t have this exact feature but what it does is still pretty amazing. It already makes note taking for meetings a lot easier, essentially getting the struggle of minutes for secretaries and assistant out of the way. It even works better when connected online, being able to sense pauses and dialect changes better. But online or offline, it’s literally the easiest way to jot down a quick thought or note especially if you’re on the move. I’ve literally “jotted down” notes for a few articles this way, of both me and other people, and I love it. And considering that this is an open API that anyone making an app can actually tap into, in a perfect world Microsoft would take advantage of it and use it in OneNote.

But unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, because while Google’s API is accessible to virtually everyone, it’s based on Google’s Cloud Platform and essentially, Microsoft would never use it because Google and Microsoft are even more bitter rivals when it comes to cloud services and AI offerings. As such Microsoft would probably opt to create their own offline transcription API that works natively in Android and, knowing Microsoft, across iOS, Windows and the web as well. As such the possibility of me saying notes into OneNote while offline seems well, less likely for now. Meaning we’re essentially stuck with admiring Keep Notes for now which has a few interesting features sure, but actually is an inferior note-taking app compared to OneNote when it comes to other features and its layout. As such, for now we’ll just hope and wait. I can’t wait until I no longer have to copy text from Keep Notes to OneNote anyway.

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