Google apparently released a new Google Keep note-taking app a bit earlier than planned on March 17, and then quickly pulled it from distribution—leaving nary a trace.
The mysterious app had appeared briefly on the Google Drive data-sharing service after its debut was first spotted by Carlos Jeurissen, an 18-year-old student and software developer in the Netherlands who posted its appearance on his Google+ page, 1E100.
In his post, Jeurissen wrote that Google Keep was an unreleased product that he researched to gain more details. What began as a whim soon uncovered a URL for a new service called Google Keep, he wrote.
"It is removed now, including the service which means a possible release is nearby," he wrote in the post.
Next, Jeurissen wrote that he discovered that Google had uploaded a new icon to their products icon folder called "keep," which "looks very similar to the Google Presentations icon and to the other Google Drive icons."
With that hint, he found a URL for a Google Drive page that included a place-keeper for Keep, as well as another URL inside a Google sandbox site where the company tests out new products, Jeurissen wrote.
"Bingo!" he wrote, describing how he found some code that provided more evidence of the product's existence. "So that's all we know for now."
Reached via email, Jeurissen told eWEEK that he found several mentions of Google Keep features as he perused Google notes inside the code of Google Drive.
He said he created his Google+ page March 17 to report on future Google news "because I'm quite interested in Google, and wanted to have a way to share my discoveries."
Jeurissen said he developed the successful Google-related Chrome extension "Black Menu," which has more than 127,693 users, and he is now the maintainer of the Shortcuts for Google extension, which was previously created by another developer.
Another March 17 report on Google Keep, from AndroidPolice, included some first impressions of the service during the brief time that it first appeared to be live.
"Google Keep works a lot like Google Notebook used to: There's a list of notes, and you can color-code them, save pictures, and make checklists," reported AndroidPolice. "You can archive notes, which will send them to a section at the bottom of your list."
The appearance of Google Keep makes it likely that the company is looking to create its own note-taking app to take on competitors such as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote. Google has been down this road before, but had abandoned earlier efforts for such a project, which it would add to its stable of other online services for users, such as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar and more.
Google Drive was launched April 24, 2012, after about six years of planning and talks by the search giant about its intentions to introduce a cloud-storage service.
Last October, Google added a key new feature to Drive, allowing users to directly share stored photos, documents, PDFs and presentations from Drive to their Google+ accounts.
A month earlier, Google updated its Drive services for Android and iOS users to make it easier for them to modify documents on the go, see changes by others and view presentations.
The Drive offering joined a busy cloud storage marketplace that was already packed with competitors such as Box and Dropbox.
Google Drive offers users up to 5GB of storage for free and is integrated with Google's core services, such as Google Docs, where users can do their work and then seamlessly store it in their part of the cloud for safekeeping and easy access.
Google Drive also includes support for a wide variety of file formats, even if the applications aren't installed on the user's device. That allows users to open the files for viewing as needed.
Drive proved to be popular among users just after its launch. Sign-ups for the service grew to a "very strong start, with probably about 35 million to 40 million sign-ups in 15 days," according to an earlier report.