Notes is packed with basic note-taking features. Think of it as a mini word processor that saves notes on iCloud so they’re available to be read on Mac, iPhone, or iPad. At first glance Notes does not appear to have much power, but looks can be deceiving.
Check the lefthand sidebar for recent notes. Click the navigation icon in the upper left to reveal iCloud notes and Notes folders. You can easily create tables, make lists, drop in photos, and even draw on Notes.
Notes is free. What’s not to like?
Well, as good as Notes is, and I use it plenty, the app is just one in a cottage industry of notes-taking apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and other platforms. Everyone knows about Evernote, one of the earliest cross-platform notes apps. It’s worthy and has a free tier.
At the other end of the scale is my favorite, Notability. You can’t do this in Apple’s Notes.
Notability runs on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, but iPad is where it shines thanks to Pencil support on iPad Pro and the new $329 iPad. Not only is it a breeze to draw, sketch, or highlight on Notability, it accepts handwriting– on lined paper if you choose.
And, get this– Notability lets you search handwritten notes. The Pencil and handwriting function is so good you’ll wish for Pencil support on an iPhone.
Markup photos, annotate PDFs, or create original content to share your vision. Then receive verbal and written comments from your team for easy collaboration. You can even review audio comments that are linked to written feedback on your iPad, iPhone and Mac.
Wait! What? Audio recording?
Yes, Notability records audio as you take notes. Think about how cool that can be when you’re in a meeting, classroom, or seminar. Notes can be saved and synchronized on iCloud, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, et al, and shared via AirDrop or the macOS and iOS Sharing Pane.
Notes and Notability are not the only keepers, though. GoodNotes handles PDF annotations with ease, and looks and works much like Notability.
See the similarities?
What’s interesting about both Notability and GoodNotes is how they handle handwriting– Pencil on iPad. It’s as if we’ve traveled back in time, back before keyboards, before typing, and have applied modern technology to ancient devices.
But it works. Apple’s own Notes is an excellent app as notes apps go, but pales in the feature list to Notability, GoodNotes, and a few others.
Back to the future, no?