Springpad for Android helps you make social lists for everything

Springpad lets you m​ake all sorts of lists on all sorts of content with all sorts of people

Springpad has been offering a social note service to Android owners for a long time now, with particular emphasis on a smooth, polished app design and a solid web counterpart. The Android app was recently featured on the Google Play store, so we decided to take it for a spin. 

Springpad users create notebooks that are either public or private, and revolve around particular subjects. There are different types of notebook items based on activity (tasks, events, check lists) or subject matter (books, movies, music, places, and boatloads more).  The kind of content added to these notebooks extends far beyond simple text - photos, audio, and locations can all be used. All of that being said, it's easy to see Springpad as the spiritual love child of Evernote and Pinterest. Maybe Path was a foster parent for awhile. 

Function

Initially, it was hard wrapping my head around the structure of Springpad; it seemed like individual items had to be on lists, which were then tucked into notepads, but as it turns out lists can be "unfiled" and floating freely, which makes a lot more sense for light stuff such as grocery lists. Collections of items can be clustered into notebooks like "Home Renovation" and then broken down into "tools I need to buy", "design ideas",  "relevant contractors," for example.

The sheer volume of content combinations within notebooks simultaneously limits and expands how well Springboard can act as a workflow partner. Any given notebook can have a plain text note, a location, an image, an event - a dizzying array, and one that can quickly derail any productive use if a user isn't sure how they should all relate to one another. 

Springpad.

Even with a few content types having tailored experiences,  some are fairly shoddy. Tasks don't show status (in-progress, delayed, completed, etc.), and though you can add timely reminders for items, they don't integrate with the native calendar app. Meanwhile, Bookmark items have a "done" button, complete with a review mechanism for those that have "done" a bookmark. I don't know about you, but I rarely have the need to "do" a bookmark. A few of the notebook types, such as the default Gadget Wish List, includes Want and Have buttons along with the standard favorite button; for outside viewers, that makes sense, but they feel redundant to have active for the person who posted it to the notebook. 

Springpad.

I'm still not convinced in the larger social network Springpad is attempting to foster, either. Public notebooks are categorized and tagged by their creators, while outsiders can subscribe to them, "spring" individual items to their own notebooks, leave comments, and mark them as favorites for future reference. Even the commenting section is overdone with the ability to leave audio comments. Images I understand, but under what circumstance would you want to record yourself as a comment to someone else's post? Is that something people do? Other users can also be given rights to post to specific notebooks, which can be handy for collaborating on projects large and small. 

I tend to use Foursquare when socializing around locations, GetGlue when socializing around movies, Foodspotting for meals, Pinterest for building wishlists, and Facebook for sharing cool stuff online. Given, that's fragmented, but I know that the communities on those networks are avid about the subject matter, and the app experience is tailored to each individual activity. Meanwhile, Springpad is trying to do everything, but excels at little. 

Style

Springpad.

There's a lot of thought put into how each notebook looks and behaves. There are a bunch of color options for backgrounds and highlights which persist through both mobile and web iterations of Springpad. In the web view, you can even designate which kinds of navigation tabs are shown for each notebook and set the default viewing style. Much like the wealth of functionality, however, the styling options on the web can get overwhelming, and I quickly lost any patience to bother with them. 

The layout of the mobile app is very clean, and the notebook view offers excellent at-a-glance status of privacy and recent content additions. The "quick add" button lets you get right ot posting items without having to chew through a lot of options, and simple usability touches like a long-press to initiate a deletion is really nice. There's a left-side pane with fly-out navigation options that are sensible and easy to use.

The good

  • Can showcase wide variety of content
  • High degree of user customization

The bad

  • Overzealous breadth

Conclusion

The breadth of Springpad's utility can easily get overwhelming, and ultimately muddles specific use cases. In theory, Springpad could handle a lot of different things, from sharing pictures with friends or building wishlists, to staying on task day-ot-day and planning long-term projects. However, my gut reaction is to dive into easily identifiable, dedicated applications for each of these tasks. Trying to remember if Springpad is robust enough to handle any given situation can be a chore. 

There's certainly hope for Springpad, since there are lots of partner possibilities; they already pull in Pricegrabber information for shopping lists, Amazon for product listings, and Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews,. It's just hard to imagine "Spring It" as ever showing up as a sharing option on websites right next to Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit - namely because it would take a half hour to figure out which notebook to publish to, as what kind of content, and how to tag it.  

For those that are looking for an all-in-one, social, cloud-based listing solution, Springpad may do the trick. Just make sure you have a very clear idea what you want to use it for, otherwise you will be buried in an avalanche of posting options. 

Download: Springpad

 

Reader comments

Springpad for Android helps you make social lists for everything

8 Comments

i've used springpad for about 2 years since i got my first droid and have to say that it's really not the kind of app that you can just pick up and understand how you're going to use it. it takes months of using to realize your own organizational patterns, but once you do, it becomes essential to keeping track of all that stuff.

i use it for literally everything. i have notebooks for media (one for music, one for books, movies, etc.) that are quick-set to add media types (like albums for music) and the integration you touched on with amazon, rotten tomatoes, and netflix is amazing. i've heard from their feedback people that google play support is possible in the future.

personally i use it for myself and keep all my notebooks private, but i've had fun recently (after the latest ui relaunch) exploring other people's notebooks and springing cool stuff i find there. as for audio comments, i can see this being helpful if i was using notebooks with peers or colleagues on collaborative projects, which is something they recently made a whole lot easier.

and as to your last point re: share buttons: totally unnecessary, given that springpad has the best plug-ins ever, giving you access to your whole springpad and ability to look up items and clip webpages. (the between-app sharing just got a whole lot better on android too, with the ability to tag and file to notebooks before springing).

i personally rate this app 10/5, and recommend it to everyone i know. you just have to be willing to give it a chance, and know that it will grow on you as you use it for more and more stuff.

My wife and I run a design firm. We were planning on using Springpad as our project management system. It started out being great, but after a while we realized it really wasn't meant to be used for that and moved on to Basecamp, which is really meant for things like that. But for organizing personal stuff and life, it's really amazing.

I would love to see an organization or a team use this for collaboration work, though. It'd be intriguing to see how others work around the system to do what they want it to do.

I love Springpad. My wife and I use it all the time. We have social notebooks (that can be used similar to pinterest) as well as private notbooks and task lists for stuff around the house. We just recently used Springpad for ideas for renovating our bathroom.

Here's a nice use case for something like home remodeling.

Because of the depth of the items you can add to Springpad you can create several types of "springs" -
Bookmarks - using this for ideas and inspiration (similar to pinterest)
Videos - same (similar to pinterest)
Photographs - same (similar to pinterest)
products - You can actually find or search for specific items and compare prices. If no product is found, you can still create your own to compare prices and features via the Springpad application.

Everything can be tagged and categorized. For instance, we tagged "faucets" "showers" "cabinets" "products" "inspiration" - Obviously, over the course of a couple of months the notebook gets pretty full with ideas, products, etc. So you can easily sort by just clicking on the specific tag, so that it isn't all overwhelming.

Another awesome thing is for recipes. You can "spring" a recipe from their web applet, and it automatically figures out the directions and ingredients (sometimes this doesn't work, and requires editing). You can even select several pictures.

The best part is you can easily create a shopping list from the recipe and take it to the store and check off the items as you find them.

I will agree that it is somewhat overwhelming at first. But once you figure out how you'll use it, it's extremely helpful. Springpad is AWESOME. I definitely recommend playing around with it.

Here's a really detailed article from life hacker. It was very helpful when I first started using Springpad - http://lifehacker.com/5902988/use-springpad-as-your-new-personal-assista...

I started out using it for bookmarks. But using Springpad, I've shifted how I do it. It's more organized and exactly how I like it.

Dear editor,

Springpad looks nice, but i doubt you meant to put your entire review on the frontpage of Android Central. Save something for the bedroom!

Sincerely,

Joebob

Dear Simon Sage or any other Springpad user;

Today i noticed something which is really disappointing.We are focusing on collecting data through springpad.What about sharing a simple thing with one of our friend? Today i attempted to send a photo to one of my friend,guess what? System warned me that note must be in a public notebook! Why do i have to add it to a public notebook which means anyone can see it? I e-mailed them,response was:I may think to call attendees for colloboration,then only ones i choose would be able to see a my private notebook.
Guys,i just want to send a simple note to my friend,i'm not launching a project here!!
Am i wrong?

You have an alternative for this kind of sharing?If not,it's better to write this to their get satisfaction page.

Have nice weekends.

I partially agree with your view that some things need a bit more polish and streamlining, especially since their "social app" overhaul. However, I've been using this for work and home for awhile now. It does take some getting used to, but after a little time with it this app has become my most-used app, other than the calendar and gmail. I tried switching to Evernote for awhile, because Sense 4's native notes app integrates with it, but Springpad has it beat in the ability to upload unlimited files and work offline for free. Give it a chance, if you can.