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The Best iPhone Note-taking App: Is It Out There?

notesI recenlty got an iPod Touch, my iTouch (thanks for the syllable-saving sorta-portmanteau of “iPod” and “Touch”, Lorraine!), and as a writer, frequent note-taker, and list-maker, I need a better note app than Notes. I’ve downloaded several (read: pretty much all) of the free apps, but I haven’t found anything that fits my idea of the perfect notes app. I’ll probably be reviewing my favorite ToDo app soon, but the perfect notes app seems to be more difficult to find. Maybe you can help me! Here is what I’m looking for.

  • Has auto-correct enabled. I downloaded (and unfortunately paid for!) MagicPad before finding out that the developers disabled the built-in spelling auto-correct. Why? I don’t know; it makes no sense to me, but the perfect notes program has auto-correct enabled (or at least lets the user decide if they want to disable it or not).
  • Makes landscape compose mode possible. This seems as obvious to me as enabling auto-correct. The keys are tiny enough, and I just find it much easier to hold the iPod in landscape mode. It’s possible in Safari, why not in Notes?
  • Gives the user lots of sorting options. Some apps I’ve seen let you sort the notes yourself, other provide auto-sort options (by date created, last modified, or alphabetically), but I want a program that lets me do all three. Bonus: A truly perfect notes app would save the user-sorted option, which could be selected just like users can select the date sorts or alpha sort.
  • Allows notes to be emailed and synced online. Most apps I’ve seen allow you to email your notes, but I want to be able to sync my notes easily. Makes me a little nervous to have my notes only on my iPod.
  • Provides password-protection options. I don’t need the entire program to be password protected, as it takes a little extra time that just gets in the way when I need to jot a quick note. But I would like the ability to password protect certain individual notes. This would free me up to use only one program for all my notes, instead of having a separate password-protected app where I can keep gift idea notes and other sensitive data. Bonus: The best notes app would give the user the option to switch on app-wide password protection. Imagine letting a colleague or cousin play with your iPod. It’d be nice to be able to quickly switch on password-protection, set up a password or passcode, and then hand it off.
  • Provides rich-text options. I am not too worried about being able to make my notes look snazzy, but I would like the ability to italicize or bold certain parts of my notes. It makes titles or section headers stand out more.
  • Allows copy/paste within the app. Okay, I get that Apple doesn’t let you copy and paste between apps, but unless Apple is planning on adding this feature in the next update, every notes app should do this.
  • Lets users include links. I’m not sure how this would be done since copy/paste isn’t a native function of the iPod, but I have seen apps that claim to allow it, so it’s on my Perfect Notes App wishlist.
  • EDIT: Allows offline access. What is the point of having an app if you can’t use it at all without an internet connection? I think that iPhone users can always connect via the 3G network (Is that right?), but iPod users cannot.  Developers should not forget the growing community of iPod Touch users while designing their products.

If you’re an iPod user, what feature do you wish you had in a notes app? And even more importantly, do you know of an app–paid or free–that fits what I’m looking for? Please let me know in the comments!

15 thoughts on “The Best iPhone Note-taking App: Is It Out There?

  1. jetfreeman

    23 Dec on 2009 at 4:45

    Try MobileNoter – it supports online sync, can read MS OneNote notebooks and has password lock, also it encrypts data sent to the cloud.

  2. Sonny

    02 Dec on 2009 at 17:55

    my name is Sonny and I work for an iPhone development company called Code Drop Ltd. We are thinking of developing a note application like no other on the App Store. We would love to hear a list of requirements from a user’s point of view.
    Drop us an email if you can


  3. Achuri

    01 Mar on 2009 at 15:56

    You may like an app called momo, which I love. Or trunk, which I have not tried but looks interesting.

    • xgravity23

      06 Mar on 2009 at 16:35

      @Achuri: Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll have to check them out.

  4. Pingback: Back to Blogging: Where I've Been and Where I'm Going | Linden's Pensieve

  5. Daniel

    12 Jan on 2009 at 21:46

    @xgravity23 – I know you didn’t say that, I was just providing unecessary background I guess. I’m still mad about it. The app is called CopierciN. Also I’m guessing the reason your autocorrect is turned off in MagicPad is because a large number of users DON’T LIKE the auto-correct. It’s the best auto correct I’ve ever used, but for some reason there’s just tons of people that hate it. So having that turned off is considered a ‘feature’ to some. Most apps I’ve seen let you decide if you want it or not.

  6. Lorraine

    12 Jan on 2009 at 6:32

    Woot: starting a trend on the iTouch.

    And you can legally copy/paste using Pastebud. I read about it here. I’ll see if I can find some solutions to your other queries too…I’m sure I’ve read about a good syncing app. Haven’t tried any myself yet. (I’m slow to get going on things.)

  7. Alex

    11 Jan on 2009 at 4:00

    I don’t think you necessarily *need* and iPhone to make use of Evernote — I guess it just depends on your workflow.

    For me, I’d guess about half of my (currently) 506 notes were hand input from a computer keyboard, another 45% were clipped from web pages using the super awesome clipper key shortcut, and only the remaining 5% were text input or photo snapshots from my iPhone. While the iPhone does give me ubiquitous capture, I just don’t need to take note-type things very often in places where I don’t already have a laptop.

    Instead, what Evernote on the iPhone gives me is random-access mobility. My department head can call me into his office, ask about what was said in a conference call a month ago, and I can call it up using tag- and text-based searches in moments without leaving the room.

    What I do absolutely need iPhone read/write for are my to-do items. For that, I used OmniFocus since beta and have just switched to using Things. Both are excellent, excellent solutions, but in the past month Things has really pulled ahead in just about every important respect. I mention them simply because Evernote also makes a fine GTD platform (which I tried for a while, but it just isn’t up to snuff with tools crafted specifically for that job).

    • xgravity23

      15 Jan on 2009 at 12:34

      @Alex: All I can say is “Wow, man.” Thanks for the detailed explanation of your use of Evernote and your iPhone. It is really helping me to not only try a new note-taking app, but also to think more about what I need that app to be able to do. I definitely need two-way syncing, and I think I’ll have to edit the post to reflect that. I bought gNotes because it promised two-way syncing and I already use Google Notebook pretty extensively (thanks to a UserScript that allows me access to it below my inbox in Gmail), but I was greatly disappointed to find that it only syncs one-way, and only one time at that. I’ve filed a complaint, but no response, and I’m pretty upset. At least the app wasn’t more expensive.

      I also tried Things because of you, and I’m very happy! At first I was confused, but I guess that was the learning curve. I really like it now, and I’m planning on writing a post about it soon.

  8. xgravity23

    11 Jan on 2009 at 2:14

    @Alex – Don’t you need an iPhone to really make use of Evernote? I mean, the camera capture feature seems like a major mode of input. Even still, I’ll give it a try. I love that it syncs across all platforms. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. xgravity23

    11 Jan on 2009 at 2:07

    @Daniel – What’s the app called? And I never said that I think Apple will implement copy/paste. I just said that I understand Apple doesn’t allow that. Why is beyond me, though. It seems obvious and totally necessary.

  10. xgravity23

    11 Jan on 2009 at 1:41

    @Unknown Films @unknownfilms – Thanks for listening to the retweet! I got a discount on MagicPad–I only paid $2, but I can’t deal with the auto-correct being turned off. I’m keeping it on my iPod, but I hope the developers fix that. It’s very promising.

  11. Alex

    10 Jan on 2009 at 23:42

    I’m a big fan of Evernote. While their iPhone app is passable at best, they have awesome desktop apps for both Mac and Windows, and can sync between all three. Don’t judge it solely based on the iPhone app, but I can’t recommend Evernote highly enough!

  12. Daniel

    10 Jan on 2009 at 23:09

    there’s an app that lets you copy and paste between notes, mail, and contacts! Oh wait that’s only for jailbroken devices, sorry! ;) apple has had almost 2 years to implement it and they haven’t yet. I’ve given up hope

  13. Unknown Films @unknownfilms

    10 Jan on 2009 at 18:46

    Saw a ReTweet from @cubiclequeen about this..

    MagicPad may be one you should try out. It was free during the holidays but I think its $3.99 now. It does about half of what you’re looking for though. No lock, landscape, and Im not sure about hyperlinks, but it does have alot of other cool features like cut/paste and font and color options too. Im sure they will have upgrades in the future, maybe we just need to request them.