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Evernote gets a real Web app

The Web version of this useful note-taking app is losing its glitz but gaining more utility.

Using Evernote's Web version becomes less of a drag today. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

My favorite productivity app, Evernote (download), is getting an updated Web version. It's about time.

The previous version of the Web client for the note-taking and memory-keeping app was a workable fail-safe if you needed to get to your notes and didn't have access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone with the real client on it, but it was cumbersome and stylistically out of sync with the Evernote apps on other platforms.

The new app is less glitzy but far more usable. It's got a three-pane view so you can navigate a large library of notes quickly. And for a Web app, it's blindingly fast. It also auto-saves notes as you type them, which brings it up to date with other Web editors like Google Docs. (You can turn off auto-save, if you want.)

The Web app will also put a "share" button on each note, if you want to put your notes on Facebook or other services. Evernote is not a group productivity app or a wiki, though. CEO Phil Libin said that he's thinking about "adjacent spaces," like this, but that the app is still designed for individuals. "It's private, almost anti-social," he says.

For me, the Evernote apps on Windows, OS X, iPhone and iPad are critical productivity tools that I use every day. The new Web app, which I tried last night, significantly reduces the penalty for working in a browser when that's the only option--or you're in too much of a hurry to open up an app. Libin also said it will be the key platform for building Evernote out on new Web-only tablets and TV-based browsers.

Evernote has over 8 million users and is adding 26,000 a day, Libin said. Most use only Evernote's free service, but Libin said the conversion from free to paid accounts is better than planned. The company still has $30 million of its $42 million funding in the bank.