Katherine Kuan, software engineer at Google, said in a blog post that Google Keep was created to ensure that notes are where you need them when you need them.
"With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what's important to you," she said. "Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand."
[ Is there a reason to be cautious about Google services? Read Google To Close Reader In Product Purge. ]
It's not just for jotting or taking pictures. Google Keep can record audio notes, which it stores in Google Drive's new Keep directory. It can also share notes to services like Google+, Gmail, other email services and Twitter.
The Web version of Google Keep doesn't provide any sharing mechanism; it's more of a note gallery or file directory.
Google isn't exactly breaking new ground here, but it is catching up with Apple, which has been distributing a Notes app on iOS for years and last year began shipping a version of the app in OS X 10.8, for use in conjunction with iCloud. Google Keep will require a bit more work before it's competitive with Note taking apps like Evernote.
Google Keep is available for Android 4.0+ devices, though you'll need at least Android 4.2 to install and use the widget for taking notes through a screen lock. Stored notes can be viewed in Google Drive, at drive.google.com/keep.
Google may have launched the product prematurely. Attempting to access Google Keep through mobile Safari on an iPhone produced the message "Oops! An error occurred. Please click here to reload the page." Several people posting on Twitter made similar observations.
Although Keep's launch-day hiccups appear to have been resolved almost immediately, some users remain skeptical. Google's recent decision to shut down Google Reader later this year has not been forgotten.
Terrible timing for Google Keep. Screw early adopters on Saturday, launch a product targeting them on Wednesday.-- Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) March 20, 2013
I'll consider using @google Keep when Google stops shuttering projects that I've used and/or commits to supporting it long-term.-- Joe Brockmeier (@jzb) March 20, 2013
A lot of people tuned into the irony of the name "Google Keep" -- which raised the obvious question -- for how long??-- Dave Winer (@davewiner) March 20, 2013