Quite a number of third party apps have sprung up now to further improve your Evernote experience. I can think of three free apps off the top of my head – Sunrise Calendar, CardDesk and Kanbanote. Sunrise Calendar, now owned by Microsoft, can integrate your Evernote reminders with reminders from other apps like Google Calendar so everything is in one place. CardDesk, shown above, makes a nice display of selected notes from Evernote on any number of virtual desktops, while Kanbanote organizes your Evernote notes in Trello-like boards. All are free and very enticing. Once you have signed-up for free accounts with these you must authorize the apps to access your Evernote content. More about that later.
Yet when I read reviews of third party Evernote apps, not much is made of possible privacy concerns. You give them permission to access your Evernote database and pull out data and that’s all very well if you don’t have private or sensitive stuff in your notes but I suspect many of us do and just play fast and loose with our privacy or possibly just forget what we have stored away there. All this isn’t helped by the fact that these apps are free so we install them without thinking too much about it. Possibly if there was a price to pay, things might be different and we’d consider things more carefully.
And if that hasn’t got you completely paranoid, just look at the permissions of some of these apps. Yes I know, something else we’d rather gloss over and just get the app installed come what may. Here’s a snapshot of the Sunrise permissions. And remember, Microsoft now own Sunrise.
Evernote themselves discuss third party app permissions here and it’s worth a read if you’d like to know more about how third party apps access your Evernote data including retrieving your notes. As explained there, it’s mostly done through a process called OAuth, an open standard for authorization. You can also view a list of applications that currently have access to your Evernote account using OAuth by visiting https://www.evernote.com/AuthorizedServices.action. From this page you may also revoke access to individual applications. I’ve also had a look round and found recommended privacy guidelines which Evernote urge third party developers to follow. They’re not binding, just recommendations, so the developers don’t actually have to follow them.
So what can we do about data privacy when using third party Evernote apps? Well if you’re careful about what you put in Evernote and have no problem with third party apps looking through everything, fine. Otherwise, if you want to use these apps, look carefully through all your Evernote notes and either put sensitive or private stuff somewhere else or encrypt the contents of those notes.
Any Evernote third party app developers listening? Care to drop a comment and allay my fears?