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Google 'Keep' App Outed: Beware Evernote?

Screenshots of an unreleased Google service called Keep suggest that the company will return to providing users with a note taking app.
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Although Google has discontinued over 70 products since September 2011, its executions aren't final. The company has a habit of reviving dead services in a different package.

Google Wave, among the company's most high-profile flops, was discontinued last year, but the technology that made it interesting -- operational transformation -- became the foundation of Google Docs collaboration.

Google Buzz contracted a fatal privacy infection and only lasted for a year and a half before being buried. But it came back in the form of Google+.

[ Find out more about Google's latest downsizing victim, Google Reader. ]

The latest reincarnation appears to be a note-taking app called Google Keep. Google did not respond to a request to comment on whether the product exists. But files and code found by developer Carlos Jeurissen and posted to his Google+ Page 1E100 suggest that Google is attempting to improve on Google Notebook, a note-taking app shut down last year.

Having identified an unannounced Google Account service called "Portal," Jeurissen said that signing in to the Portal -- itself a mystery -- added a new service called "Google Keep." The links cited currently return errors. Presumably, Google removed public access to the files in question. But another website, Android Police, also obtained screenshots of Google Keep.

Note-taking apps let users collect and store text, images, links and other media formats for personal use and sharing.

Google's note-taking app is likely to be more mobile friendly than Google Notebook, in order to compete with Evernote, a popular cross-platform note-taking app. The Android Police screenshots suggest that Keep will be integrated with Google Drive -- for storing the notes -- and with mobile device cameras.

Google's interest in Evernote might have something to do with the fact that the service has grown to about 50 million users since it launched in 2008 and generates meaningful revenue, something Google Notebook never managed.

However, Google's willingness to terminate under-performing products leaves an opening for critics. Commenting in the 1E100 thread, a Microsoft employee named Julien Couvreur cites Google's previous shutdown of Notebook and its recently announced plan to discontinue Reader, then asks, "Do you really want to [be dependent] on an experimental Google service which may be killed off in a few years?"

In response, Emory University Web developer Kristian Serrano observes that because Keep appears to be tied to paid services -- Google Drive and Apps -- its survival looks more likely.

As to when Google Keep might be released, Google hasn't said. The company incubated Google Drive for six years.