InstaNote

an app for PC and Windows Phone

Experiment complete

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InstaNote makes note taking in meetings as easy as a single touch. Note taking could be distracting – you miss out on ongoing conversation; it’s difficult to take high quality notes; you slow down the meeting. InstaNote takes notes for you. When you heard something important, with a simple touch, InstaNote captures the last 30 seconds (configurable) of audio and transcribe it when possible.

Instanote is for Windows 8.1/10 PC or tablet.
New feature: Snap the app to the side of laptop screen, or have it run behind other windows. It will keep running if you do not minimize or close the app.

Meet the team

Applications and Services Group
"This idea is rooted in real pain points and something people would use."
Jie Liu

Garage Team

Jie Liu (Program Manager) Gaurang Prajapati (Designer), Michal Gabor (Developer), Mayur Dalal (Developer)

Applications and Services Group

Redmond, WA

Backstory

Like many Garage projects, InstaNote was born from problems and pain points in everyday life. “When you touch the button, it captures the last 30 seconds,” says Jie Liu, a program manager with Bing who came up with the idea after struggling with note-taking during meetings, and pitched it during the company-wide //oneweek hackathon in 2014. “In meetings, you want the conversation to flow as naturally as possible, and usually when you want to take notes, it’s something someone just said that you need to remember later.”

Once activated, the Windows Phone app records the entire meeting, but the touch of a button marks the portion you need and saves it. Recent updates add tagging and assigning tasks (action items), and importing information (like speaker identifications) from the Outlook calendar. During the hackathon, the Bing team held an internal competition in which InstaNote won in the Digital Work & Life category, earning a $10,000 cash award and an automatic pitch for the Bingcubator, the Bing’s idea accelerator program. That gave Liu about six months off to devote to the project, and it gave other team members time to work on it, too.

Bing management told his team about the Garage, and that it was a good platform to test experimental projects with the real market. It was always Liu’s intention to make the app available to the public.

“I know this idea is rooted in real pain points and something people would use,” says Liu, who credits the hackathon and Garage with changing his perception of the company. “I’d only been at Microsoft for a short amount of time, but during the hackathon, I realized there were so many people with ideas who were eager to put them out there. You’re naturally in love with the idea you come up with, but I thought I’d be lucky to find even one person to help me. But right after I posted, one guy emailed me asking to work together. Then others emailed me. I got more confident.”

As InstaNote heads out to the public, Liu says, “This whole experience has taught me that our company is full of creative people willing to commit time and effort to bring something new to the world. It makes me feel very hopeful about the company.”