In the post PC and smartphone era, it’s imperative that all our bookmarks and online references come with us wherever we go. Often, most of us might find a database of plain old links to be of very little help. Some context or description about the link we have saved will go a long way and save us a lot of time.
Sure, a lot of apps allow us to add a short description to our bookmarks, but in the Web 2.0 era, it’s not a step forward in the right direction.
Springpad is a personal digital organizer that helps you remember stuff. It’s more than your average bookmarking app. In addition to saving a link, the app extracts data from the page you are saving and enhances it further with useful links.
Springpad is an app that I use multiple times a day and I reviewed their web app couple of months ago for Web.AppStorm. Being a fulltime blogger, my life would be an absolute mess without Springpad. Naturally, it was one of the very first apps I searched for in the App Store as soon as got my iPad.
To start using the app, you will need an account. To everyone’s delight, there are quite a few ways to sign up. First, you can sign up from the iPad app itself from a registration form that has just three fields. Not in the mood to go through with the sign up process? The app also allows you to use existing Google, Yahoo, Twitter or Facebook accounts to login.
As soon as you sign in, the app will start syncing with the web app (if you already have an account) and within a couple of minutes, all your notebooks and the bookmarks saved in them will be retrieved. What’s amazing about the iPad app is that it looks exactly like the web app, complete with the background theme you have set.
Even the folders are organized in the same order as in the web app!
Creating a Notebook
To create a notebook (a folder that stores your bookmarks) hit the grayed out +icon at the end of the row. It’s absolutely necessary to create a notebook to start saving those bookmarks (You can save a lot of other stuff too, but for uniformity and better understanding I will be referring to them collectively as bookmarks).
Each notebook can have its own unique theme to add to the variety. There appears to be no limit to the number of notebooks that can be created. Rest assured, your organization skills will automatically improve over time if you start tucking away bookmarks into their relevant notebooks.
The inside of a notebook has a neat two column layout. The right column is where the bookmarks will be displayed, while the left column helps you navigate through them. Creating a bookmark from the app works just like the web app does.
A wide variety of stuff can be saved for remembering later and these include creating a note, tasks, adding by type, adding an image, recording an audio, scanning barcodes, and searching nearby items based on your location. The possibilities are limitless and you will get better at tapping the full potential of the app within minutes of using it.
Adding by Type
The Adding by Type feature is a clear example of the brilliance of the app. Unlike shoving all the data into one preset bookmark format, Springpad helps you save stuff based on their type or category. And each type has its own custom fieldsets that capture the data and makes the link worthwhile. For example, let’s say you are trying to bookmark a TV show to catch up later.
Select TV Show from the list and search for it from the app. I searched for Dexter and saved the link displayed. Now I went back and searched for the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the same book on which the TV show was based.
Can you see the difference between the two links and the appropriate fields springed from those pages for maximum usefulness?
You can attach your own note, photo or audio to each link to make them better. Shortcuts to buy the item from Amazon or other ecommerce sites, streaming from Netflix, and to share with others via Twitter and Facebook are available as well.
All the links can be accessed at once from the list view to the right, or you can use the types shown in the left column to narrow down the search.
By default, all your bookmarks are marked private and no one else can see them. But, if you find something interesting that might be useful for others too, save it publicly.
In the same manner, links shared publicly by others can be accessed from the notebook named Friends Stuff. This section is like the YouTube of bookmarks and you can find a whole lot of new stuff – from recipes to restaurants.
Springpad is a brilliant app and there is no denying that. The multi touch on the iPad takes the experience to a whole new level. It’s like watching a movie in 3D.
One thing I missed a lot was the ability to save links from the web browser using the Springpad plugins. Plugins are the easiest way to save links and their data. But it is a restriction put in by Apple and we will have to live with that. A few months ago, I chose Springpad over Evernote and am still standing by my choice, proudly.