Last week brought a rush of new app updates from both the Play Store and the Android N developer preview. There were surprisingly few new features to discuss, and not much for teardowns; but the Google Keep app does have at least one notable addition in store for us. It looks like Keep is going to give users the ability to pin important notes so they remain readily available and won't get lost as new items are added.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Do you feel like you're opening up Google Keep and looking up the same handful of notes almost every time? Whether it's an ongoing shopping list, a collection of gate and padlock combinations, or something else, there's almost always a couple of notes we'd rather keep close at hand. The problem is that those handy notes can easily get pushed down as new things are added. We can manually re-order notes, or create high priority labels (or use hashtags), but those methods are tedious and require a lot of extra taps at some point or another. It looks like Keep is gearing up to give us a familiar fix in the form of pinning notes.
The new strings are plainly obvious–the word "pin" can be found in basically every addition to the latest update. The behavior isn't spelled out in text, but pinning things to keep them at the top of a list or otherwise available has become such a ubiquitous concept in user interfaces that it shouldn't require an explanation.
<string name="note_pinned">Note pinned</string>
<item quantity="other">%d pinned</item>
<item quantity="one">Note pinned</item>
<item quantity="two">%d pinned</item>
<item quantity="few">%d pinned</item>
<item quantity="many">%d pinned</item>
<item quantity="other">%d unpinned</item>
<item quantity="one">Note unpinned</item>
<item quantity="two">%d unpinned</item>
<item quantity="few">%d unpinned</item>
<item quantity="many">%d unpinned</item>
The main strings let us know that pinning is obviously going to be a new feature, but the addition of the plurals tell us that batch operations are also supported. In other words, users will be able to multi-select notes in the main list to quickly lock a handful to the top or clear that flag and let them travel back to their natural positions.
<item android:icon="@drawable/ic_material_pin" android:id="@id/menu_pin" android:title="@string/menu_pin" app:showAsAction="always" />
<item android:icon="@drawable/ic_material_unpin_blue" android:id="@id/menu_unpin" android:title="@string/menu_unpin" app:showAsAction="always" />
Also falling into the completely obvious category is the interface for pinning. There will be a button in the action bar that either shows black or blue, depending on the active state of a note (or set of notes). Tap the button and magical things happen.
Ok, there's no point in explaining this to death. We all know what it's going to do, and it's definitely coming to Google Keep.
You might want to know when it's coming, and that's always the tricky question. Well, the resources are pretty thorough and it looks like there's plenty of code to back it up. Unless there are some complicated issues I haven't thought of, this should be a pretty easy feature to implement. The better question might be to ask why it's not already active. My guess is that the web interface wasn't fully finished or the developers are waiting for some user testing to wrap up before a launch. Whatever the reason, it looks like this could probably be turned on with a server-side switch. I suggest keeping a close eye on Keep because this could show up at any time.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.