Google Keep is a great note-taking service, and it can also double as a to-do app, no doubt about it. But even when you use all of the organizational features available, like labels, archiving, and colors, you might soon end up with an entangled mess that’s hard to undo when you’re not careful. If you ask me, alternatives like Notion or Evernote can quickly become too complex for pure personal use, and that’s where one of my favorite indie Android apps comes in: Bundled Notes.
Interface and note management
Bundled Notes’ name tells you right away what’s up. Instead of going Keep’s way and throwing all of your notes, checklists, and to-do lists into one single home screen, only differentiated by labels and colors, Bundled Notes forces you to order your notes and to-dos in folder-like bundles that you first need to enter before you can interact with them. That might lead to a bit more friction when just wanting to jot something down real quick, but it will force you to organize your notes right from the start. As such, Bundled Notes’ home screen only consists of these bundles, with manual or alphabetical sorting options and a grid or card layout. A small plus button in each bundle allows you to quickly add a note, and you can create homescreen shortcuts for individual bundles by long-pressing them. On Android 12, the app even supports Material You theming, dunking its interface in a color based on your wallpaper.ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY3 Images ExpandExpandExpand
At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the central piece that lets you do almost all the magic: a bottom action bar with a floating button on the right that allows you to quickly create a new bundle (or note, when you’re inside a bundle). A three-line menu to the left of the bar gives you access to your account details, settings, upgrading options, and theming preferences. The bar additionally lets you view any files and photos you’ve added to your notes, making it easy to manage your storage. There’s also a quick shortcut to view all of your upcoming and past reminders, giving you a calendar of sorts if you use the app as your to-do list.3 Images ExpandExpandExpand
The bottom bar looks ever so slightly different in bundles, giving you configuration options, a shortcut to archived notes, and a search button. The configuration options for bundles are extensive and one of the reasons why Bundled Notes is so flexible for different use cases. You can use the bottom bar to switch between a Google Keep-like grid view with two rows of notes next to each other, or a card view that previews one note per line — much like the compact layout, which just shrinks down the card view a bit.
Depending on what you use a bundle for, you can turn on a ranked list, showing you the numbered order of your notes — useful if you use a bundle to rank your favorite movies, games, or, I don’t know, Android phones. If needed, you can also show the created and edited dates for notes. Basics like pinning notes to the top, archiving, and selecting multi-select for bulk actions are on board, too. Configurable left and right swiping actions make it easier to access these.3 Images ExpandExpandExpand
If anything, there might be too many options — you can get overwhelmed easily and get lost in the sea of available settings. But once you’ve tested everything and decided what you need a bundle for, you should be settled in with a system that works perfectly for you, and only you. There are only few apps that give you this much flexibility, and there's quite a learning curve attached with that.
Then there are tags, which offer a whole other layer of organization and automation. You can create new tags at the top of a bundle using the plus button. Here, you can choose a name, a color, and set it as the default tag for new notes or not.
To-dos and kanban boards
Tags are great for organizing notes into different categories, but they’re even more powerful when it comes to to-dos. You can have Bundled Notes automatically add checkmarks or archive buttons to notes with certain tags, making it easy to turn a bundle into a little to-do app of its own for a project or just for general everyday stuff.Expand
Manually sorting by priority and using reminders is what works best for me
If you want to step things up, you can also add “swap tags” buttons to notes, making it simple to move a note through different steps like from a “Planning” tag to “Doing” tag and then to one called “Done.” This is completed by a so-called kanban view option, which allows you to turn tags into a horizontal planning board inspired by the kanban method. With this, you can easily view progress for long-term tasks and projects. If you ask me, Bundled Notes’ implementation for Android is among the best I’ve ever seen for this kind of horizontal board, even if it’s a bit hidden and takes some time to properly set up.3 Images ExpandExpandExpand
If you don’t like this kanban board style, you can still use tags to organize tasks. You can sort your to-dos by a self-selected tag order, so that you’ll see all of your tasks labeled with “urgent” at the top of your bundle, for example. Bundled Notes is really flexible when it comes to organization, and you can create almost any workflow you could think of.
Google Keep also offers rudimentary options for ordering and sorting your tasks, but the more complex things get, the harder it becomes to stay on top of your to-do lists, especially when you have multiple complicated tasks that require in-depth descriptions. Trust me, I’ve tried.
The only thing I truly miss from Keep is the Google or Nest Home integration, which allows you to manage your shopping list using only your voice.
Bundled Notes is equally impressive when it comes to individual notes. While Google Keep offers some super-basic formatting to create lists and such, Bundled Notes is a full-fledged text editor with rich link support. It supports markdown editing, which allows you to use a set of in-text instructions and symbols to apply the formatting you need. With a little practice, I find it faster and more intuitive than other types of editors. The Bundled Notes Android app also offers a bottom bar where you can select formatting options, if you prefer that. You can create headings, make text bold or italic, add checkmarks, create blockquotes, links, and code.3 Images ExpandExpandExpand
When linking to any website in a note, a rich link will be created with a thumbnail and the title of the page in question, visible right in the top-level bundle, where it’s even possible to open it or copy the URL without entering the note itself. The same goes for image and file attachments — that’s right, you can add relevant images, PDF files, and anything else you can think of to a note, with data being saved to Bundled Notes itself (limited to 10GB max for Pro users).
The subscrption-only web app pretty much copies everything the Android app also offers, though it does make some great accommodations to the additional space offered by a bigger screen. Depending on how much horizontal space you have, the interface can stretch out to make space for up to three columns, with instant access to all of your bundles in the left, all notes in a bundle in the middle, and the notes editor on the right. On smaller screens, notes open up as a pop-up.
The kanban interface really manages to shine here as the web app can display columns right next to each other. This makes it much easier to gauge bigger projects.
The web app can also be used on tablets and phones, so if you have a device that doesn't support the Android app, the web app can be a stopgap solution. It doesn't support reminders, though.
Since Bundled Notes doesn’t have a multi-billion dollar corporation behind it subsidizing the costs, you’ll have to be prepared to pay a small fee to take advantage of all of the service’s features. In the US, you can get the full version for $1.89 a month or $17.99 when paid yearly, though prices differ a bit internationally based on average income and exchange rates.Expand
Paying the fee will give you access to the web app, unlimited bundles and notes (limited to 6 bundles with 400 notes in the free version), and 10GB of account storage with a max file size of 200MB each, and recurring reminders.
In contrast to the stagnating Google Keep, Bundled Notes is still a young project and currently developed by a single person. While an expansion of the workforce is planned, these things take time and thus, we’ll also have to wait a little longer for some anticipated features.
For one, iOS support is only coming sometime in Q1 2022. In the beginning, the app will support editing and displaying everything available in its Android and web counterparts, but customization options and reminders are coming later. A macOS build based on the same code is planned, too.
Once that foundation is laid, the developer also wants to look into sharing and collaboration — which makes sense, since Bundled Notes will reach significantly more people as soon as iOS support is out, and nobody will have to worry about which phones their collaborators own. At some point, the developer also wants to implement import options to move over all of your notes from another service. Drawing and stylus support is another thing that the developer is looking into, but it’s even further out.
The developer is also planning on open-sourcing some components from all of his apps (Android, iOS, and the web). This will allow anyone interested to help with the development, but it will also be possible to reuse things like the markdown editor for one’s own projects.
Of course, it’s hard to say that one app is the best for everyone. Preferences are different, and while some people can easily live without drawing tools, sharing, an iOS app, and Google Home integration, these factors could be deal breakers for others. That said, I still think that Bundled Notes should fit the bill for many, especially people like me who run into Google Keep’s organizational limits and don’t want a full-fledged uber-app like Notion (which is a great free multi-platform alternative, but I found it to be too complex for my use-case).
Unlike many other services, Bundled Notes absolutely nails customization, too. It might be a bit overwhelming when you get started, but the possibilities are endless, and you can basically set up completely different rules for different bundles, making Bundled Notes a catch-all tool for notes, projects, and to-do lists.
Given that Bundled Notes can save me from hours of frustration when trying to organize my notes, to-do lists, and thoughts, I feel like the $1.89/month or $17.99/year are an investment well worth it. There’s also a free trial for those on the fence, and the free version is already pretty powerful on its own if you don’t need the web app.Bundled Notes - Notes, Lists, To-do, Reminders Developer: Bundled NotesPrice: Free4.2DownloadThe iQOO 9 Pro has the best in-display fingerprint scanner yet and now I want it in every phone Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorManuel Vonau(1613 Articles Published)
Manuel is a tech enthusiast and Android fan based in Berlin. When he's not writing articles for Android Police, he's probably out and about as a videographer.