Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Favorite Writing/Note-taking Apps

I have scavenged for the perfect writing app for my iPad2. And after seemingly endless iTunes store clicks, contrasting review-reads, and a buck or more, what have I learned? 1. There is no perfect writing app, only a few that would work for you, 2. Price doesn't guarantee app satisfaction. Anyway, here are a few of my top picks:

Manuscript, $6.99


Before I discovered Manuscript, I have been working on my novel on DocsToGo which is really like working on Word. Manuscript is every writers dream app. It is visually appealing: it presents your novel in book form. It is easy to use and very functional with menus for pitch, synopsis, and index cards for ideas and organization. 

I use the index card section to organize my character bio, and scene details.I love that I can edit my work according to chapters. Plus, it conveniently exports to my Dropbox account. The only thing that irks me is how I can't get a preview of my novel according to the chapter I am working on. It always has to start on chapter 1. Aside from that, overall, Manuscript is awesome and definitely worth the $ I plunked down for it!

Notability, $2.99

A Note-taking app that threw my Nebulous and Notes straight to the abyss that is iPad's last page. Notability lets you type or hand-write notes. With Notability it is possible to insert web clips, images, and figures, and make audio recordings. 

I just wish they can auto detect lines and clean up my handwritten lines and shapes so that they don't look like pitiful doodles. I like organizing my notes and it is a huge plus that with Notability, I can arrange my notes according to category and subjects. It is a versatile app. It even exports to Dropbox (which I am a big fan of) and other cloud services.It is by far the most visually pleasing and media-rich note-taking app I have tried.

Evernote, FREE

What is more awesome than an app that lets you create text, photos, and audio notes? A free one! Yes, Evernote is a free app that lets you type notes, tag them, create audio and insert photos. You can make searches in Evernote and you can tag notes for further organizing. But this app only allows typing, not hand writing as opposed to Notability which lets you do both. 

I use this app for taking quick pictures of mom's recipe book, and for writing my own recipes, keeping tabs of credit card receipts and business cards, and for storing my favorite quotes. Evernote also syncs to--tadaaaahhh--Evernote and it is a universal app which is cool because I have my iPhone, computer, and iPad synced all the time without bothering to copy, paste, or email anything to myself. 

Note Plus, $4.99
Note Plus

Finally, a note-taking app that auto-detects lines and shapes for crisper handwriting. Like Notability it lets you hand-write or type text and edit them (Yes, even the handwritten ones can be edited and moved around the page, awesome right?). You can organize your notes and pages, re-order them or edit them again. With the palm pad you can avoid making unintentional scribbles during hand writing mode. It syncs to your online/cloud services like google docs or Dropbox.

I like it that Note Plus has audio recording capabilities but I'd be a bigger fan if it also allowed photos inserts. (I hope Viet Tran adds this to a new update). Because I can pretty much draw to my hearts content here, I use this app mostly to show the iPad notetaking prowess, this and Notability. 

DocsToGo, $9.99, $16.99

Documents To Go is a universal app, which means you don't have to buy several versions of the same app for each of your iphone, itouch, and iPad. The price is a little steep, but it does more than take notes or scribbles. With DocsToGo you can create, edit, view word documents, excel files, and power point presentations. You can also view PDF, iWork, and other files.
It is very convenient for me that I can open my PDF files from emails to me and save it locally to DocsToGo. Thank God I don't have to search endlessly in my email. It supports cloud services, which I can't emphasize enough how much I like! 

So, which ones should you get? Depends on what kind of note-taking you'll do. Do you need pictures? Do you prefer handwriting your notes? Or would you rather type the notes? With such considerations, you can pretty much gauge which one you'll need. As for me, I have all of these apps still active in my iPad and I am happy with them.

Oh, if you have other suggestions or comments of better or newer note-taking apps, leave your comments below! Thanks!

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