View Full Version : Taking Math Notes With Tex Touch (or other app)

Oct 19, 2010, 06:04 AM
I've got a bluetooth keyboard and an iPad I plan on using for notes in my classes, but I've found that in math class writing equations and using proper formatting can be a pain or impossible, and I don't really feel like using Penultimate would beat pencil and paper by much.

I searched around for an app that has the capabilities of entering complex math symbols and found Tex Touch. It's great and works through Dropbox but I'm not entirely clear on the use method of the app. Would it be fast enough to use to write equations compared to pencil on paper? And after doing so, all I have to do is sync to computer and compile into a pdf for reviewing/reference? Sounds pretty cool if it's fast and has a smooth export workflow.

Right now I'm trying out smartNote and seeing if the "drawing" method of entering equations works out. Judging from the app screenshots, taking math notes seems to be a use case, so I hope it works out. I'll report back with any comments on the app.

Does anyone know of any other apps that can be used for writing math notes? Thanks!

Oct 19, 2010, 06:15 AM
I don't have anything else to suggest, but I'm interested in hearing how this works out for you. Let us know how things go!

Oct 19, 2010, 08:33 AM
I have soundnote and it royally sucks for taking handwritten notes. However, Ive been using Noterize in my stats class and so far so good. There's a bunch of options in terms of "pen thickness," different colors, and the eraser feature is pretty damn handy. Check this one out for sure.

Nov 1, 2010, 07:25 PM
Dear Seo,

I can not recommend any other app that might be better for your case. BUT I think that TexTouch would do a great job. The custom keyboards give you really quick access to the most common symbols. Some people commenting on the app even write that they are faster with TexTouch than with their handwriting which I hardly believe but may be possible with a bit of training. A partial derivative of a function f(x,y,...) to a given variable only takes you a few clicks on the symbols. The arrows give you a really quick navigation between your {}s. There is also a good input scheme for adding tables and matrices.

If you are online and your PC or Mac is as well, you can use a little app so that you can compile remotely via your LaTeX installation at home and directly view your PDF. As far as I am concerned an update will bring real online compiling which makes your PC/Mac at home obsolete. But neither do I know how this will work nor if this will cost may be a small extra fee?!

I would give it a try. I wasn't sure about this at first, too. But it became a great tool and I don't want to miss it anymore.

Nov 1, 2010, 11:59 PM
Well, I am using Note Take HD for my College Calculus class, and so far it's absolutely perfect for the actual note-taking aspect. It's rough when it comes to organization (not really any notebook aspects, takes forever to open PDF's) but you have complete liberty on your editing and note taking.

I can't recommend anything better for taking math notes.

Nov 2, 2010, 06:48 AM
Well then, your comments have been very convincing. As long as I can search and organize my notes digitally (which will save me a lot of grief when I'm studying and doing homework) with a reasonable speed, it looks like it fits my requirements. And the custom keyboard thing is very nice. I might even be able to use that plus a physical one, though I'm not sure if it'd make a noticeable difference for equations.

I'll pull the trigger then, and let you guys know how it goes.

EDIT: Stupidly enough, I did not consider the fact that the notes are not directly viewable and must remotely compiled. I'm not extremely fluent in Latex so I worry that it could be hindrance to note correction and utilization on the spot.

EDIT2: I've found another Latex app called Tex Equation and it can compile things inside the app. It looks like it's able to take notes as well, though I'm not sure it's as competent an app as Tex Touch. Any experience with it?

Nov 2, 2010, 01:56 PM
I have no experience using Tex Equation but it looks to me as it is only for equations, not really for taking notes in a lecture? Dunno. Is it fast enough to write most of the things yourself?

I think you should not have much trouble with the LaTeX syntax when using Tex Touch because you are doing most of the stuff using the custom keyboard?! Not too much opportunities doing something wrong. :cool:

May be you should give both of them a try? Tex Equation seems to be nice if you only want one or very few formulae while Tex Touch seems more the right app for actually taking notes in a lecture.

Nov 3, 2010, 08:01 AM
Hmm, got it. I'll go for Tex Touch then. I wish there was a trial period. Oh well, lol.

Nov 5, 2010, 05:38 PM
Great news! I hope you love it as much as I do. Remote compiling is now supported with update 1.4. Wondering how fast it is in Beijing.

Nov 6, 2010, 04:07 AM
A remote compiler eh? That's great, looks like they're quick to update and actively developing the software.

I've got a question now that I'm trying it out. When I enter a symbol from their custom onscreen keyboard, it pops down, forcing me to select the type of symbol and enter it again. How can I make it stay on the screen?

Nov 13, 2010, 12:55 AM
Been using it for a while, and have come to somewhat of a conclusion. This won't be much of a review; more of a "my thoughts" sort of thing.

To begin I'll tell you this app isn't for learning how to use LaTeX. There isn't any manual or simple guide to even the basics of LaTeX. Thankfully, LaTeX has been around for quite a while, so there is no shortage of help on the web. After you get over with the basics (like how to head and end a document, basic coding, etc.), you can start with the app. Of course most of the guys who download this kind of app are already experts with LaTeX, so this is just a warning for dumb people like me. :o

The cloud compiling works great. The instructions could be clearer, but it's pretty straightforward. It's not quite a replacement for in device compiling, but with since I'm on a 3G iPad it's fine. It's fast enough, though not quite "snappy". You tap Tex! and it takes 15 or so seconds.

The custom keyboards are great, although they go down after you enter something. That's not cool IMO, since I sometimes require the repeated entering of a certain type of symbol, and don't really want to bring up that tab again. Also, is there any way to customize those custom keyboards? A Favorites tab or Most Used tab would probably be useful.

I consulted my math teacher (Mac user, from around Caltech :D) and he said it might be too slow for taking notes unless I'm really really fast. He recommended a WYSIWYG editor if I really wanted to take notes electronically. So I'll be on the lookout for one of those.

To wrap it up I think this app deserves a good four stars for what it does. It's not the most attractive app, but the app icon looks great. It's small and fast, lacking a bit of polish. Some improvements and maybe a new UI (not for editing, just the file selection) would make this a 5 star app.

Jul 7, 2013, 07:06 PM

I would like to suggest taking a look at the MathSense app. It is the first ever web application made for math and science note taking from the ground up. It uses the latest technologies to help you learn and get better results, such as Wolfram|Alpha.

It has full Evernote integration and allows you to save fully editable and interactive html based math notes.

Please take a look at: http://igg.me/at/mathsense

It is going to be free when released, so any comment or suggestion is most welcome.

The MathSense Team