Like previous versions, you’re able to use a bookmarklet, various browser extensions and Springpad’s mobile apps to save things for later in virtual notebooks, but the newest version allows you to share your notebooks publicly – see this one I created with our recent Instagram/Facebook posts, for instance — and invite other Springpad users to collaborate on notebooks with you. GigaOm’s Kevin Fitchard likens the new Springpad to something like the lovechild of Evernote and Pinterest, which is a good bird’s-eye-view of what’s going on.
Aside from the new public notebooks and collaboration options, Springpad also works some cool behind-the-scenes magic based on the type of item you’re saving to a particular notebook.
For instance, if I save this PlayStation 3 console on Amazon into my “Things to Buy” notebook, Springpad recognizes that it’s a product, will show me prices from competing retailers and send me alerts when the price drops.
The real-time web is an amazing resource for news and serendipitous discovery, but there’s so much more useful information in what gets shared beyond the immediate. Springpad 3.0 moves beyond real-time sharing to give users control over when they discover information, who they get information from and how they choose to filter it. The persistent nature of Springpad’s organized notebooks and powerful filtering capabilities helps users access that information when they’re ready for it, not just when it’s shared with them.
Such functionality depends largely on the source website, though. For instance, if I save this article from our Entertainment section about The Cabin in the Woods, Springpad will let me either save it as a bookmark or categorize it as a movie with no added functionality other than a link back to the article. However, if I save The Cabin in the Woods from IMDB, Springpad automatically recognizes it as a movie, will find trailers, reviews and showtimes for it, and let me buy tickets. And if I revisit this entry a year from now when the movie’s not in theaters anymore, the entry will automatically populate with links to where I can buy it or stream it online.
That’s a cool feature, provided you save from websites that Springpad recognizes contain things such as products, recipes, books, movies and the like. Searching for things directly from within Springpad is another, easier option as well since many items have already been categorized.
As for notebook sharing and collaboration, one feature I’d eventually like to see would be a middle ground between personal notebooks and collaborative notebooks. It would be cool to have semi-collaborative notebooks wherein one person acts as a sort of gatekeeper while anybody else can submit suggestions to be included in a particular notebook without being invited. Instead of those suggestions just showing up, they’d have to be approved by the notebook owner first. I’m not sure how many people would use such a feature, though.
All in all, the newest version of Springpad is a big step forward. The dynamically updating product data is very useful, and the service’s ability to intelligently parse whether you’re adding a task, a note a link or a product makes it painless to use. Collaborative notebooks make tag-teaming the grocery list a no-brainer, too, and public notebooks add a flair of social without making Springpad feel like yet another social network.