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One of the things that has been a major point of contention in the ongoing Springpad vs Evernote debate (which still rages, despite the different market segments the apps target) has been the lack of a desktop app for Springpad. This was closely followed by the inability to backup and download your Springpad data, which was a strong deterrent for some of our own readers. Well, Springpad has pushed their product forward yet again, and have addressed these issues — and while offline access to the service doesn’t quite stack up to the power of a desktop version, it’s a huge step forward for the web app, and only the beginning of things to come.
The Springpad mobile apps have had offline access for some time now, leaving their web counterpart to catch up. To do this, Springpad has used it’s integration into the Google Chrome browser to its — or, rather, our — advantage. Other browsers will be added soon enough, but for now, all that HTML5 offline goodness is locked into the native Chrome app. If you already have it installed, you will probably have to uninstall it and then grab it from the Chrome Web Store again. Then you need to pop into settings, then services, and click the button to enable offline access and start the sync. If you want to make sure everything you sync remains up to date, then leave the app open while you do other things. I suggest right-clicking on the app and then selecting “open as pinned tab” or as a new window so you can “set it and forget it.”
While the offline access is a fantastic development, there are still a few things that are lacking. Of course, you won’t have access to elements that are internet-dependent, like alerts and links to other sites, but you also won’t be able to use the Board, or the advanced sorting and filtering options. Also, you can only search by title (which is a little annoying), you have no access to the trash, and you can’t add new photos or files for later upload (among other limitations — full list here). Some of these things will be addressed in future updates, and I’m definitely not complaining — I’m happy about the offline access, and fully expect it to improve in leaps and bounds over the next while. I still have that hankering for a desktop app, though. I have no real reason for it, and I fully understand that Springpad’s dedication to the cloud and HTML5 puts them ahead of the curve, but… I want one. It’s probably just me showing my age or something…
I’m loving what Springpad has put together for a data backup solution. Most times, when you download a backup of an online service, it is a CSV file, or some other dump of data that is not otherwise immediately usable. Springpad has basically given you an offline website with a list of your data in HTML form. Unfortunately, it is not easily navigable without a lot of scrolling or using your browser’s Find feature, but it’s all there and it’s easy to read. I downloaded a few thousand notes and bookmarks into a 12 MB zip file (with attachments and photos in their respective folders) that I was able to open and read right away. This made me happy!
The downside of this method is that it is not really ideal for transferring your data to another service, if that is what you want to do. Perhaps Springpad should include a CSV option, but I’m thinking you would have to leave a lot of data behind that way.
In any case, you now have the ability to mitigate the potential disaster of losing all your Springpad data in a freak accident, and will be able to enjoy reading it too. Huzzah!
Springpad isn’t slacking on other fronts, either. They are a part of the Google IO Chrome Sandbox, and have updated their Android apps to support Honeycomb tablet devices. They also have released a version for the Barnes & Noble Nook Color — which is awesome for the owners of the eBook reader/tablet hybrids, considering how Springpad is able to keep track of and deliver alerts on books. I love the steady and focused flow of updates we’ve been getting from Springpad, and I can’t wait to see where they take us next. I’m hoping desktop app – but I’ll take what they give.
What are your thoughts on the latest Springpad updates?