Evernote launched two new iPhone apps Wednesday, called Evernote Hello and Evernote Food, that help users remember who they meet and what they eat. But in a larger sense, they tap into the growing movement to create digital journals out of our lives, turning encounters and actions into an easy-to-access diary and resource. It’s a trend that has become more prominent with Facebook’s Timeline, Path 2.0′s smart journal approach and other efforts like Foursquare’s lists function and event check-ins. Increasingly, companies are looking to help chronicle your lives to help you remember things and come back to it when you want specific information.
Evernote Hello is designed to help users recall who they’ve met. Users ask a new acquaintance to quickly fill out a profile of themselves — including a picture — then the data gets bundled up into an encounter that records the time and place of the meeting. The idea is to provide context around the encounter so users can better recall how they met someone. Evernote will also connect saved notes or food you ate at the event to this encounter. Users can add more photos to the entry, and when you meet that person again, it gets logged into their profile. Later, users can peruse their contacts through a mosaic view that lists people in chronological order.
The Evernote Food app works in a similar way, allowing users to record pictures from meals and attaching context around it like time and place. Users can take a series of pictures and organize it under one meal, attaching notes and captions about what they ate. Or they can use Evernote Food to record the steps of a recipe that followed. It’s a way to recall special meals and track eating habits, or for hardcore foodies, it can be a dedicated food journal.
The apps are interesting in that they address some existing needs. I know that I’m terrible at remembering people at events, and it’s nice to be able to remember some tasty meals and visits to a great restaurant. But I’m not sure how much work people are willing to do to enter in the necessary data. Handing over my phone and asking a stranger to enter his or her personal information isn’t a familiar way to handle first encounters, and I think that could take some time to catch on. Bumping a phone to exchange contacts still seems less invasive. And I capture some of my food pictures through Foursquare now, which is how I save a lot of my nights out.
But I think this shows that Evernote is looking to better position itself as a keeper of all your memories, not just notes. Increasingly, this is a powerful idea because it makes an app or service even more meaningful to a user, and it prevents people from leaving because they’ve locked up memories with a particular service. This is the new battleground, and a lot of companies are going to work to become the main repository for users. Evernote is showing it’s not going to be on the sidelines in this competition.