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A look at the 18 notepad apps currently on my iPad

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by caubeck, May 31, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502

    I've bought far too many notepad apps looking for the right one to suit my needs. I wish I hadn't wasted so much money on them, but...whatever. At least maybe I can help someone facing the same problem.

    My needs, I thought, were few and very simple. I wanted a virtual notebook where I could type, scribble and possibly paste photos, and then email the resulting "sheets" wherever I wanted. Here are the apps that are still on my iPad (I can't imagine how many I've already deleted). These are my personal views about apps in the version I have them today, on May 31st 2010. I am sure many will get better with updates over time.

    Desktop. A very useful app that splits the screen in two and allows either half to work as a notepad, calculator, web browser, etc. I use it every time I work on a translation (my job) because I can have the original on one side and the translation on the other, and consult the net for tricky expressions. But it's not a fully fledged notepad per se, so I didn't stop downloading there.

    PaperPad. I like this app a lot. It lets you scribble in different colors and thicknesses and create a PDF with the result. Your shaky lines get smoothed out as you make them. The app is fast and doesn't have a column of wasted space on the left showing an index of saved notes when in landscape mode. You can doodle or write on PDFs and images but you can't type or paste typed text, so it's nice to have but doesn't meet my needs.

    Notes N More. This one's okay. I didn't know you could change the texture till a week after I downloaded it because the option is in the iPad general settings, not in the app. Even so, I don't like any of the crinkly or woven textures and there's no plain white. There's also a column of option permanently on view on the left, wasting screen estate. Hmm.

    Pages. Of course Apple worked hard on this app. It does everything, except it strips out footnotes and creates PDFs that my Windows computers can't open properly. I don't like the interface, I'm always hunting in the toolbar for the functions I need. And I can't scribble with it if I needed to. So sadly that was ten dollars put on hold till the developers get around to adding more features, if they ever do.

    Office HD. This was the first app I downloaded, I think, and recent updates have improved it a lot. I don't want to criticize too much because it's pretty good for office work, but it isn't the friendly notepad I was after.

    Penultimate. I don't see what's attractive about an endless conveyor belt of identical brown notebooks where you can scribble in black ink. Dull, depressing and missing all kinds of functionality. It's not for me.

    PaperDesk. This one is pretty good. I can type, record audio, doodle...if I could paste images too I'd have stopped my search here. It doesn't waste space with columns on the left, it's big and bright and simple.

    Notes (not the native app). Interesting, but this is a sticky note or post it theme (with pins no less) and I'm not into that unless it's really special.

    MaxJournal. This is a wonderful application for taking typed notes associated with particular dates. It's like an agenda or diary, with dates running down the left hand side. Very smart. Nice scrolling. Not what I need right now but I've been using it occasionally. You can send as email, PDF, text, it lets you search, and so on. Very attractive theme, good design.

    WritePad. I bought this because I was curious about handwriting recognition. I used the same app on my old PDA. The trouble is that it made sense on the little PDA, but the iPad has a great keyboard. WritePad is a little too simple in design, too, so it looks like you're using a beta version of something. Not the right functionality for me anyway.

    Notes (the native app). No options, themes, PDF out, images in, or anything worth my while. Huge column of wasted space on the left. Annoying yellow and leather theme, can't stand it.

    Mental Note. I use this, it allows typing and scribbling and importing images and exporting as PDF. The trouble is that images can't be resized currently, which is annoying. But I've been using it for a few weeks and look forward to the next few updates.

    Notably. Very pleasant notepad app. I've been writing a book chapter with it. Very little functionality, though, so it's just good for typing. Big column on the left makes landscape mode a bit pointless (except for the larger keyboard, but I want to visualize my documents better horizontally too), but the developer says they'll work on that.

    Infinote. This post-it style app has a lot of potential, more than others of its kind. I've used it, and will do so again. I like how you can structure your notes and thoughts with its unique layout. Just needs a few more features, such as to be able to mix images with text, and it'll be very good indeed. A more formal skin would really help. The developer said he was working on improving functionality so we'll see.

    Browser Notes. Like Desktop above, with fewer options and features.

    Diary Book. Okay, this was embarrassing, and not cheap. I thought I was downloading another take on the journal-that-lets-you-mix-text-and-images-and-mail-it kind of app, but it's a girly notebook for 12 year olds that might as well say Hello Kitty on the front. I will delete it right away (...there, done).

    miWriter. This app supposedly helps you create a book you can send as a PDF afterwards. But the controls are clumsy, images can only be resized by squashing them and I can't tell if you can drag them because the app is really confusing. If you paste text it has to go into a text box, but then this doesn't automatically resize to the right width, and...well, Ill leave it at that.

    "And the winner is...."

    Okay, I think at long last I found my ideal notepad app.

    WhiteNote. Not a name I'd read much, and the icon is so run of the mill you'd be forgiven for not even bothering to take a look. But this one is superb. It is smooth, it allows you to combine text and images and handwriting, drag and resize images, play with the texture and use your own. You can change the fonts, colors, line thickness. You can send sheets as PDFs. You can access the Internet from within the app, and your PDFs and images, and take screenshots to add to the page you're working on....really, this one has it all. It's also relatively cheap.
  2. macrumors 65816

    Thanks for the reviews. I'm going to try WhiteNote myself now.

    For a pure type-only note app, I've found Notebooks for iPad to be the best so far.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Does Notebooks for iPad allow you to edits imported notes or just read them? I need a note app that will allow me to import a Pages doc but edit it if I need too.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Wow thanks for your reviews. Was about to buy daily notes but no one had reviewed it anywhere (googled it)
  5. macrumors 6502

    I have found a bug in WhiteNote and have spoken to the developers about it. They are correcting things already. The problem was that adding a long text (25,000 characters) caused it to act strangely and I couldn't scroll down. When the bugs are ironed out this may be the one I'll use all the time.

    Smooth scrolling is important in notepad apps. I also think having the whole landscape screen as your writing desk makes more sense than seeing a column of options or files permanently fixed to the left. Also, in this age of iPads, email and digital media I see no reason why images can't combine with text and audio. One obvious problem is that the resulting file may be annoyingly large to receive or send via email, and these writing (and photo) apps give little indication about the size of the attachment.

    Hopefully Documents to Go will solve some of my compatability issues at work - hopefully that update isn't getting mysteriously delayed at Apple HQ, just as the world starts downloading iWork on their new devices - and an app like WhiteNote will cover my other needs.
  6. macrumors Nehalem


    I totally appreciate the write up but do you have anything more extensive? I am considering Penultimate, I have PaperDesk but I found weird behavior in it and I'm not sure I like the way it works, and WritePad is something of interest to me.
  7. macrumors 6502

  8. macrumors 65816

    You didn't check out sundry notes or soundpaper?

    Whitenote looks very amateurish.
  9. macrumors 68020


    I WAS a huge WhiteNote fan. (I'm WillysJeepMan on the app store) But with each subsequent release, for every bug that is squashed 2 more nastier ones are introduced.

    1.7 (released yesterday) fixes the bug where entire pages of text were deleted when exiting the app... but another "losing text" bug was introduced. And there is still no "undo" option.

    There's a lot of promise in that app, but I've lost too much data to rely on it anymore. If they ever get those bugs ironed out, it will be the best, IMO.

    edit: One thing that the developers did early on was to change from the traditional curved tabs (like Excel tabs) for more rectangular looking "buttons". That wasn't a good decision IMO.
  10. macrumors 68020


    I've checked out Sundry Notes. IT is the one that I found to look amateurish. Not to mention that long delays switching pages. It has a clunky mechanism for switching between notebooks and pages. If they could improve the performance and provide a nicer method of switching pages/notebooks, It would be a contender.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Good to know. Meanwhile I'm becoming a beta tester to see if I can lend a hand. The features in this app are exactly what I need, either fortunately or unfortunately.
  12. macrumors member

    Tried many of the above but find myself liking the ones where you have an area on the bottom of the screen to write, but the app shrinks your ink to the insertion point above. Both Note Taker HD and FastFinga do this. FastFinga currently has very nice inking, almost like penultimate in how it looks "real" but overall I don't find its categorization of notes too handy.

    Note Taker HD currently is my main one. According to an email with the author, it sounds like different colors and a few other things, such as improved ink output (not that it is bad now, just not as good as 1-2 others out there). I think multiple sheet notes is coming too.

    The ability to have different tags and folders for notes is great.

    There is at least one youtube video if you can't get your head around what I mean by write big/normal on the bottom of the screen to have the ink in smaller, normal writing at the insertion point in the screen above.
  13. macrumors member

    I use Simplenote/Evernote/Sundry Noets.
  14. macrumors newbie

    Oooh, Note Taker looks great! One thing I didn't see, though--is there any way to move text around on the page after you've written it? Either select and move, or copy and paste? One of the things I really like about Fast Finga is that I can insert new text in between lines I've already written if I want to.
  15. macrumors member

    In the current version no way to move ink, so quite paper like in that. Lol. I haven't found the need to do so that great though.

    Before the iPad came out I saw pad note demo on YouTube and envisioned moving text, ink, graphics all around the page in a onenote or evernote style organizational scheme but that app doesn't exist. If it did and worked well I would pay $75 for it even.

    Actually that (evernote) is an app I hope adds ink and robust editing. They have note organization and synching between multiple devices/computers down pretty well and their roots are in inking on the first tablet pcs probably a decade ago, so here is hoping.
  16. macrumors 6502

    I picked up a Pogo Sketch yesterday and downloaded Penultimate. Overall it's a pretty nice app for basic notes (in terms of organization), but the one gripe I have is when I'm writing and my hand hits the bottom right of the page, it turns to a new page. I almost wish there was an option to move that to the top right instead.

    They could use some better organization, allow you to write on the notebook cover, etc...but all of these apps are in their infancy still, really. I'm willing to give it time, especially since Pogo told me they are announcing new stuff hopefully at the end of the summer (as opposed to the mid-May many of us heard before).
  17. macrumors 68020


    Great review/over view of note apps. Thanks

    I've been using PaperDesk and Simplenotes and I'm still not satisfied with PaperDesk. Simplenotes is great, it's a keeper.

    I may try WhiteNote tho to see how well it works. Great thread. :)

  18. macrumors 6502

    WhiteNote is making a massive debugging effort right now. It does have all the features I need but until they're sorted I can't completely recommend it. Once it's fixed it must be great on account of its wide array of functions.
  19. macrumors 65816

    Do any of these notes apps encrypt the notes with password unlock? I need to keep some banking info on my ipad.
  20. macrumors 68020


    I think 1Password or DataVault may be a better friend for your protected information. If it's worth protecting it's worth the Apps. Both are great and 1Password is 50% off at the moment I think.
  21. macrumors regular

    I'm using Note Taker HD. Really liking it.

    The update that came out yesterday has really taken it to another level.
  22. macrumors 68020


    WhiteNote 1.7.6 was released yesterday... one of the new features is "Note Taker HD"-like handwriting. If the developers can tighten up the quality of their updates then WhiteNote will be a contender.
  23. macrumors 6502

    Having just redownloaded WritePad I must say the latest version looks much nicer with a more attractive feature set. It's no longer colorless and overly simplistic, and I think I'm going to use it quite often now. I love returning to apps I bought and deleted to see what's changed.

    SmartNote is another app I have started to use. It seems more stable than WhiteNote although there are still some bugs in both. They are very similar but SmartNote is generally more reliable at the moment, with an attractive notebook theme (the kind of theme Penultimate should adopt).
  24. macrumors 68040

    I wonder how write pad would do with my kids writing?

    I have the iPhone version, but I'm not sure the input area would work. Would you say it is worth $10 at this point??
  25. macrumors 6502a


    If you happen to use the Mac and iPhone version of SOHO Notes, it will work on your iPad. I'm hopeful that they will eventually do a universal on the iPhone version.

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