Evernote is just one of those ubiquitous, omnipresent apps that has a seemingly endless amount of uses and is on almost every platform imaginable. It was even featured on an Android-powered refrigerator once.
One of those platforms includes the recently launched Android Wear. With an increasing number of wearable devices coming out of the woodwork, we asked Damian Mehers, Evernote’s Wearables developer, to chat about what it's like to develop an app for your wrist. And since Mehers developed the Evernote app for the Pebble smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, and Android Wear, he had quite a bit to say on the matter.
Greenbot: So, first things first: How many versions of Evernote are there for all the various wearables products out there?
Mehers: So far, we have Evernote available on Google Glass, the original Galaxy Gear, the Pebble, and Android Wear. I was involved in delivering all of these, except for Glass, so the total is four so far. One of the delights of building an Android Wear solution, though, is that it works on any Wear device, whether it’s from LG, Samsung, or Motorola.
Greenbot: What are some of the challenges of developing a compatible Evernote app for one of Samsung’s smartwatches versus Android Wear, for instance? Is it hard ensuring that all the different versions work on each different wearables platform?
Mehers: If I compare building Evernote for the original Galaxy Gear with building Evernote for Android Wear, a couple of things come to mind: both apps have a similar [software] architecture, with a watch-based component that talks to a phone-based component. The watch-based part of the app was different in each case, even though they are both Android-based, which was a challenge. They also had very different mechanisms for communicating between the watch and the phone.
However, for the phone-based components it is a very different story, with a lot of reuse. In both cases, the [wearables] app talks to the standard Evernote for Android app, and it takes care of the heavy-lifting of authenticating the user and syncing. So, overall, it was pretty straightforward.
Greenbot: What's one feature you wish you could magically make work on Evernote for wearables that you haven't quite figured out how to implement just yet?
Mehers: This is a tough one. I love imagining Evernote doing something, and then making it real—that is the magic of software development for me.
If Evernote could somehow work out what it was I wanted when I glanced at my watch, and presented it to me on my watch without me having to do anything, that would be cool. In fact, we are trying to do exactly that: we have a whole team at Evernote, the Augmented Intelligence team, that are looking at all kinds of contextual prompts such as the time of day, your location, who you are with, and what you are doing to work out what information you are likely to need at the moment.
Greenbot: Is there a neat feature in Evernote for wearables that users might not be aware of?
Mehers: If you look at a note on your phone and then lock your phone, we'll send that note over to your Android Wear device to make it unobtrusively available there, if you want it. Imagine being at the airport and looking at your flight information on Evernote on your phone, and then having that same information continue to be seamlessly available at a glance, on your watch, even though your phone is in your pocket.
Greenbot: Are you an Android user? If so, when did you become one? Which Android phone are you sporting and why?
Mehers: I am an Android user. I think I started around 2010. I am currently using the Nexus 5, which I like because it sports a stock Android experience and supports the latest and greatest Google Android offerings—and of course, Evernote runs very well on it!
Greenbot: What's one Android app that you just can't live without? Besides your own, of course!
Mehers: The app I probably use the most is Gmail, but I really enjoy the Moves app, which keeps track of where I've been in the background. My family and I just completed a long, meandering vacation down the West Coast of the United States, and it's great having that record of all the places we visited.