Windows-like Update Behavior in Evernote

Those of you who weathered the “death of Evernote” rumors a couple of years back know that the company has been engaged in an intensive codebase restructuring that at times has been painful for users. It reminds me of the “tear it all down” approach that Apple took with Final Cut after spending years educating users and marketing the superiority of its earlier interface paradigm. Eventually, features were reimagined and brought back into the new Final Cut Pro, albeit in a new way and sometimes with different nomenclature.

One characteristic Evernote’s Mac app (v 10.11.5) has taken on is not so welcome.

When the developers push out an update, the app interrupts whatever work the user is doing, comes to the front, and puts up a modal dialog box. You can dismiss the dialog box (but ONLY with the red-dot Close button), but it will come again at another time.

When I say “whatever work,” I mean during a video editing session, during a Zoom session, during audio recording—whatever, the updater does not care. You must know about this update NOW.

There is no obvious function that the Evernote client provides that would call for this kind of mission-critical notification that even Apple avoids with MacOS update notifications.

Obviously, I wouldn’t be posting about this if I did not find it unnecessary, distasteful, and un-Mac-like. I do wonder what others have experienced with apps and updater behaviors, and whether my feelings about this are, let’s say, a bit harsh. Since my experience with Evernote goes back to 2009, and I am closing in on 10,000 notes in my database, this question is not about switching from Evernote, but more about what behavior should we expect from apps in 2021?

One way to avoid the interruption should be to run the version available from the Mac App Store. Since updates come through the store interface, updating is initiated by you, not the app.

I’m not a heavy user, so I don’t know if there are significant differences between the directly available version and the App Store version. If not, the App Store version would be the way to go.

Thanks for that suggestion, Alan. I may be on the direct version because of past beta releases. (And yes, I’ve offered feedback directly to Evernote about this issue.)

Checking on the app store, it appears that the version released directly today is the same version available on the app store. But as you point out, there may be differences between the two. Sometimes those result in limitations on the App Store version, and sometimes the limitations are in the direct-release version.

I can certainly replace my client with the App Store version, but I think there is also a principle involved here. Even if the Human Interface Guidelines are a fleeting, fading memory rooted in a different era, I believe we have a duty to call out egregious UI behavior like this and ask developers to polish the rough edges on apps, especially when they might be unaware of the effect those burrs have on us.

I have a few apps that show similar behavior (Bartender, Fantastical, etc.). However, they do so because I have a ‘Check for Updates automatically’ enabled via their preference settings. So, if the native version of Evernote doesn’t have such a setting, that’s what is needed.

The Evernote app has NO preference settings. Also, no File menu which is standard Mac interface from Lisa days.