If anyone has an idea of what’s possible when it comes to building out Evernote, it’s Rafe Needleman.
As the company’s Director of Developer Relations, Needleman runs Evernote’s esteemed accelerator program, which attracted more than 800 applications in just its third year in existence. As part of the program, Needleman works with startups that build new tools and features on top of Evernote’s platform. That means exposure to lots of new, and sometimes far off, ideas.
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It also means Needleman knows a lot about what’s possible with Evernote. So what should we expect coming down the pipeline?
A product that will be learning from its users, he says.
“We’re drowning in data,” he added from the Evernote headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. “[Users] are data machines, and we want to help people utilize that.”
For Evernote, utilizing this data means teaching the app how to learn the habits of its users.
For Evernote, utilizing this data means teaching the app how to learn the habits of its users. For example, if a user has her weekly project meeting on the calendar each Tuesday, Evernote should be able to surface her meeting notes for her, or even prepare a blank note in preparation for the meeting without any work from the user.
Mark Ayzenshtat, Evernote’s VP of Augmented Intelligence, is working with a 10-person team on projects just like this. The team is less than two years old, but Ayzenshtat believes that tools like the one mentioned above could take shape, in some form, “in a few months.”
“We want to make Evernote better at reorganizing itself to suit the way that you use it,” he says. “To wrap itself around your brain.”
Using geolocation, Ayzenshtat believes that Evernote could even determine when users are on vacation based on previous activity within the app. “If every few weeks you take a weekend trip down the coast, and you take photos along the way, Evernote should understand that when you’re in this area of the country, you’re in tourist, weekend-trip mode,” he says.
Evernote already works to stay one step ahead of users in some aspects of the app. Users with a premium subscription, for example, already get “Related Notes” suggestions that highlight other notes with similar keywords or titles from their collection.
Evernote Business users may get these suggestions from a database of notes accumulated and shared by other members of their company, meaning a user could get help from colleagues without having to ask.
“We’re not trying to tell users what to think,” says Needleman. “But this is one avenue of [this idea].”
To make this happen, Evernote will continue to collect and utilize user data. This doesn’t mean the company is selling data for monetization purposes, Ayzenshtat explains. (The company only makes money from subscriptions so scaring users off with shady data collection is dangerous, he adds.)
“We really believe the idea of making our users smarter, or helping our users take all the knowledge in their Evernote account and combining it with everything else that’s going on in their lives to make better decisions,” says Ayzenshtat. “[This] is increasingly going to be Evernote’s key differentiator — the key reason why people use Evernote.”
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