After my last review of Note applications, I was asked to review a few more apps, some by the author and others by friends who wanted to know if programs were worth buying (I guess they prefer I spend my money ).
As last time, I'm using the Pogo Sketch for all on screen activities and I'll use the same chart as last time:
- P -- Pen Function
- E -- Eraser Function
- T -- Text (Keyboard) Function
- U -- Undo Function
- R -- Redo Function
- C -- Colour Support
neuNotes (Free) -- PEURC
The author of neuNotes commented on my last post and suggested I look at the software. I'd have to say that if I wanted notebook style software (similar to PaperDesk and Penultimate) that this is by far the best free option. I've come to like Sundry Notes more and more lately but it's still got a lot of feature bloat, and Adobe Ideas is really more of a whiteboard, neuNotes finds a nice middle ground. I can draw in multiple colours and also select the transparency, which means I can use it as a highlighter. It allows for multiple notebooks with multiple pages and several transmission options (Mail Page as PDF, PNG, or JPG; Tweet Page; Mail All Pages as PDF).
The feel of the software isn't quite as refined as some of the other apps, the icons and colours made it feel a little juvenile but that's a pretty minor sticking point. I've spent so much money on note taking apps, that I'm not sure this one will make the cut in the end on my iPad, but if you haven't spent money on an app yet, this is probably a good starting point.
The transparency, multiple pages and email options were all high wins for me, while the lack of paper types (lined paper can be useful) and look of the software were the primary cons. As an added benefit, you can replace a page out of a notebook with an imported image and mark up the image, and you can name each page individually.
Note Taker HD ($4.99) -- PEURC
The biggest sticking point on this software has to be the price. It, along with Notes Plus, take the cake as the most expensive pieces of notebook software. From a features standpoint, they'd almost seem worth it (they have some of the nicer features) but there are some basics that are definitely lacking in both cases. Additionally the Note Taker HD UI takes some getting used to. While the colour and icons of neuNotes were bothersome for me, in this case it's the buttons themselves, they don't fit the typical iPad buttons that I've become accustomed to and the UI layout is a little wonky.
Where Note Taker HD is nice is in the edit modes. You can mark up an entire page, or you can switch edit modes and write in a small zoom box so that you can take notes like you would on paper (and the functionality works quite well). Another point that many people may like is that Note Taker HD is like a single notebook. You add pages, title pages and work with pages, just as if you had a real notebook that you carried around to scribble in. While this may not be quite as organized as multiple notebooks, the tagging and favourites features help to make up for that.
While I really like the zoomed writing features, I'd want the UI to feel a little more 'iPad-like' to make this a part of my daily use. Given that this app only supports lined paper, I'd say that it's really meant to be treated like a notebook that you carry around and scribble down random thoughts in, and in that case, for people that do that... this might just be the perfect app.
Notes Plus ($4.99) -- PETURC
While I'll likely keep a few of the other apps (Penultimate and Adobe ideas) this may soon become my primary note taking tool. You have multiple notebooks with multiple pages; multiple pen, text and paper options, group select and move (try the erase tool out and drag instead of deleting). The software also contains zoom and write functionality like Note Taker HD. The UI also has a very professional look and feel that improves the overall user experience.
If I was to nitpick, it'd be that the only email option is PDF. I'd like to be able to email a specific page as an image (PNG or JPG preferably). I'd also like a real eraser, so that I could "tidy" my notes. The only option write now is to use the group select and delete the highlighted chunk of writing.
The ability to intermingle typing and hand writing is also a nice feature. While the cost is a little high, in this case it may almost be justifiable. I wouldn't recommend this software if you aren't serious about taking notes (then the cost isn't justified) but if you are, this is the option for you.
Ghostwriter Notes ($1.99) -- PEUC
This is pretty standard note taking software. You have the ability to select from a few pen colours/types and a couple of types of paper. The zoom functionality is the only way to enter input with this software, which means no drawing diagrams (unless you can do that while zoomed into a couple of lines). This software may actually be the closest representation to pen and paper and the pen strokes are quite nice (no blocky text with this app).
You're limited in what you can do with this software, but along side Adobe Ideas or Penultimate you may end up with a nice pair of apps. There's a catch though... wait a version or two. Current the software has some lag issues (not sure why) but you end up with pen strokes that aren't acknowledged with leaves you with half written characters, or the zoom window lags and you don't see what you've written until you're down a line or two. Either way it could be very annoying to use in a real-world situation and risk encountering this problem
iBrainstorm (Free) -- PE
This is the last piece of software I'll look at, I've almost got more note taking software on my iPad that I do games (almost, but not quite ). This software is clearly a competitor to Adobe Ideas and perhaps the two belong in their own category but I'll lump them in here. The easiest way to sum this app up is to say that when I'm done the review, Adobe Ideas will be staying on the iPad.
iBrainstorm has a single screen, no clear page and no new page. If you want to start over you sit with the tiny eraser and wipe it all out. It also have buttons that seemly do nothing, and occasionally the screen greys out for no reason. Those issues aside, it actually has a few cool features.
The first cool feature is the ability to insert a Sticky Note. The tool itself is all freehand, but you can add a Sticky Note, and type a note to go along with your drawing. The other cool aspect, which I couldn't test, is the ability to connect multiple devices to bring along group think functionality. I'll hopefully get a few people running this in the future and test it out and if it's amazing, I'll write more about it.