Google has a laundry list of apps to maintain, but it seems to do a good job keeping all of them up to speed with the competition and its own Material Design guidelines for Android. Google Keep recently received its share of attention from the company’s developers, with text formatting options finally finding their way to the app in a recent update. In theory, they should help split lists into defined segments, helping you emphasize certain elements. I use Keep to maintain a shopping list and was sorely disappointed to find out that this is far from the case.
Google Keep is one of the best note-taking apps on Android, but it doesn’t exactly pioneer new features. So, I was happy when Google announced new formatting styles for text in the app earlier this year. After adequate beta testing, the stable rollout introduced the options for new notes, followed by support for the same options on older notes. The rollout should be completed by now, so, chances are you have them on your device as well.
Formatting is easy to apply — just select any text and tap the A icon in the bottom bar of the app (sometimes just above your keyboard). You can use bold, italicize, or underline to lay emphasis on the selected text. Alternatively, you can define sections and subsections within a note using H1 and H2 formatting for headings. There’s an option for strikethrough formatting as well.
I usually use Keep to collate my shopping lists, and historically, I maintain separate lists for groceries and other household items, complete with a checkbox beside every item. These boxes make it easy to hide items I’ve already bought. With the introduction of formatting options, I was excited to combine the lists into one with suitable subsections to avoid the hassle of switching between the two.
A simple list with H1 and H2 formatting
I created a new Keep note and proceeded to apply H2 formatting to the section titles, followed by the usual items I needed to buy. Then, I enabled checkboxes for the list, but disappointingly, Google decided to add a checkbox in the line for the H2 headings as well. “That’s alright,” I thought to myself. “Perhaps checking an H2 item off my list will cross off all the items underneath, up to the next H2 heading.” That functionality doesn’t exist either, because checking off an item formatted as H1 or H2 only crosses that line off your list. The only way to get a group of items checked off the list is if they are indented under another item. You can do this by swiping right on the items you want to indent.
Checkboxes appear beside H1 and H2 items as well
You see, checkboxes are a document-level option. You can either apply them to every new line, or just disable them entirely. There’s no way to select text and have the checkboxes show up only in the chosen lines. So, you can still use formatting to emphasize items you ought to purchase on an errand run, but the heading styles are about as helpful as bold text in that case. They don’t really stand out as a heading when the items underneath are indented, either.
A checklist with indentation and heading formatting is the only way forward
I understand formatting options are new, even if Google Keep is merely catching up to rivals with the addition. However, that doesn’t excuse Google from making the new styles useless for lists on its only list and note-taking app. Perhaps we will have to use H1 and H2 formatting and indentation in tandem, even though the former should’ve been a drop-in substitute for indentation in terms of functionality. Shopping lists just shouldn’t be so challenging to manage.