iPad Notability, default notes and PDF Expert: is one too many?

Wackery

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 1, 2015
719
704
Hello,

I'm looking to maximize my efficiency, and am interested in the notability app.

I already have PDFs Expert and the default notes app going.

I hear a lot of praises for notability however, but I'm curious to know what exactly does notability do, that the notes app (taking notes obviously) and PDF Expert (digitally sign and edit PDFs) doesn't?
 

mjt57

macrumors regular
Aug 16, 2013
137
4
South Eastern Australia
With Notes you can't annotate images which are imported into it. However, with Notability you can insert a PDF document, image or whatever and then draw all over it. That's Notes biggest and most significant failure, in my view.

When used with an electronic stylus whilst it doesn't use a bluetooth connection between stylus and app it does have a "software" palm rejection which makes writing with your hand resting on the ipad easier. Works OK with "dumb" styluses too.
 

Wackery

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 1, 2015
719
704
With Notes you can't annotate images which are imported into it. However, with Notability you can insert a PDF document, image or whatever and then draw all over it. That's Notes biggest and most significant failure, in my view.

When used with an electronic stylus whilst it doesn't use a bluetooth connection between stylus and app it does have a "software" palm rejection which makes writing with your hand resting on the ipad easier. Works OK with "dumb" styluses too.
Hmm yeah some kind of picture editing app is absent with the iPad Pro... I know it's kind of silly to ask, but is that alone really worth it in your opinion as a user?
 

Abazigal

macrumors G4
Jul 18, 2011
11,604
9,123
Singapore
Hello,

I'm looking to maximize my efficiency, and am interested in the notability app.

I already have PDFs Expert and the default notes app going.

I hear a lot of praises for notability however, but I'm curious to know what exactly does notability do, that the notes app (taking notes obviously) and PDF Expert (digitally sign and edit PDFs) doesn't?
IMO, notability is less featured than PDF expert, and that's precisely what I love about it. The various annotation options are more readily accessible in Notability, unlike PDF Expert where they are squirrelled away in menus.

As a teacher, I have all 3. Notes is for taking quick notes which I can then share with other people via the myriad of share sheet extensions. PDF expert has the "downside" of syncing annotations back to Dropbox, which I don't want (I want the original versions intact in Dropbox), and has this annoying wrist guard border which appears when I zoom too much into a document. Very distracting when my ipad is mirrored to my classroom projector and the whole class is watching.

PDF expert is great as a file manager however, and I do have my Dropbox files synced to it so I can access my files even when offline. It has the best annotation features, but because there are so many of them, accessing them can be slower and feel more cumbersome.

Notability silos my PDF documents in its own app, leaving me free to annotate on them to my heart's content.

Again, this is just my own scenario and use case, so your mileage may vary.
 

nightlong

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2012
821
141
Australia
Notability, for my needs, offers a great combination ... Excellent handwriting, great palm rejection and no lag with the Apple Pencil, plus audio recording, typing notes too, easy organisation, plus what has been mentioned above.
 
Last edited:

Wackery

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 1, 2015
719
704
Hmm thanks for the feedback! It seems neat, but for my uses I think I'll just be fine with the basic notes and PDFs expert.
 

mjt57

macrumors regular
Aug 16, 2013
137
4
South Eastern Australia
Hmm yeah some kind of picture editing app is absent with the iPad Pro... I know it's kind of silly to ask, but is that alone really worth it in your opinion as a user?
If I need to insert a photo (or other image or document file) into a note taking app it's usually for the purpose of adding notes, annotating, drawing something on it.

For example, at work, I'll take a photo of something, insert it into a Notability note then add notes with arrows pointing to some detail within the image. I can't do that with the iOS Notes app as the inserted image resides in its own page and nothing can be done to it.

Then, back in the office I can send that note via email to whoever needs to see it. Or it can be saved as a file for inserting into our work package Maximo. So yeah, Notability works well in that respect.
 
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friedmud

macrumors 65816
Jul 11, 2008
1,267
1,004
If I need to insert a photo (or other image or document file) into a note taking app it's usually for the purpose of adding notes, annotating, drawing something on it.

For example, at work, I'll take a photo of something, insert it into a Notability note then add notes with arrows pointing to some detail within the image. I can't do that with the iOS Notes app as the inserted image resides in its own page and nothing can be done to it.

Then, back in the office I can send that note via email to whoever needs to see it. Or it can be saved as a file for inserting into our work package Maximo. So yeah, Notability works well in that respect.
I use that feature all the time for homework too. Take a picture (or a screenshot) of a chart, graph or even of the homework problem text itself. Insert it into Notability and write on and around it... perfect!
 

geta

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2010
824
369
The Moon
You should check OneNote, its free and very capable. Also Simplenote is nice (and free) although quite simple...
 

karladdr

macrumors newbie
Dec 12, 2013
25
11
I have both too, pdf expert has all my books and pdfs and I use it to read, underline, make summaries and study. And notability is where I have all my classes and lectures, I like that I can record audio and it's sync with what I'm typing at the moment so usually when I take notes I just write the most important thing that summarize each subtopic and let the audio explain it further, very useful for me when I later review it for studying, it also sync to my iPhone and Mac. I don't know if current notes app does that too but I have used notability for so long, since I started medschool, that I'm not willing to change now. The notes app has been into the appleshit folder since my first apple device
 

jgelin

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2015
898
1,045
St Petersburg, FL
I use both Notability and PDF Expert. Usually side by side, in split screen mode. Notability for writing my notes, and being able to take screenshots of PDF and insert them into my notes edited and highlighted all over. This workflow has proven to be very efficient in my computer programming classes and my retention of the material has significantly gone up. Never thought that I would be recording my lecture notes, but find myself doing so more and more now just because I can if needed later!