Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Apps in review | The quest for the perfect note-taking app

Hello everyone! Do you use apps?

As you may remember from my tribute to Steve Jobs in light of his recent passing (in this post), I could not live without my iPhone and iPad. I use a number of apps and tried many more. In the blogosphere there are numerous posts reviewing apps that can best entertain your kids of all ages, but I find there is a lack of attention to the apps that will make your own life easier. These are rather the apps I am reviewing in this post. I am not entirely sure this will turn into a series but... I have at least a few apps to review so it well might!

According to Sarah Jessica Parker in the movie "I do not know how she does it" (which I reviewed in this post), every mom's mind is constantly occupied, if not hijacked, by "the list" -- the over-reaching, never-ending list of reminders from "baking pie for school fair" to "finish work report." If you are like me, "the list" has spilled over from your head to a multitude of post-its, paper notes, digital notes, napkins, vocal reminders, which together have taken a life of their own into a insatiable Leviathan. Hence, my quest for the perfect note-taking app. I think I have tried most of those available on the app store, and I have very recently arrived at a truce with my notes, lists and reminders.

I like to compartmentalize, so the first distinction I made was between to-do lists and other notes. For to-do lists, I rely on two main apps:

DO IT TOMORROW. This is a great app for quick reminders, such as "buy milk" or "make doctor appointment". Reminders are synced between my iPhone and iPad, which was one of the essential characteristics I was looking for. Although it serves the same purpose of a million other to-do apps out there (including Apple's own REMINDERS built into iOs 5), I love the simplicity of DO IT TOMORROW, where I can write my reminders as if on a regular paper napkin. Plus, if I do not get around to do everything on my list, I can painlessly move it to the following day without too much guilt :-)

THINGS. I use Things to organize my larger personal and work projects, each with their own sublists of things to do. For instance, when we go on a family trip, I generally create a project for that, and then sublists for the things I need to accomplish when packing, getting visas, close the house etc. I recently read that THINGS should soon allow for iCloud syncing, which will be the most welcome addition since now I have to go through the cumbersome process of syncing notes with the use of my laptop as intermediary device.

For general note-taking (including my blogging notes and posts), I rely on four apps:

NOTES. My quick notes go here, and they get synced over the Cloud with all my Mac devices (including my laptop).

EVERNOTE. My home-related and personal notes go here, because they originate from a number of sources (including web-based ones) and I generally need to have access to them from anywhere.

CHAPTERS. My work-related notes are stored in multiple journals in CHAPTERS. This is the only app that I have only on my iPad, but with PDF exporting, I can access the journals from my computer if I need to. So far, I have not yet felt this need though, because CHAPTERS turns my iPad into a real digital notebook that I always carry when I need to.

AWESOME NOTE. Last but not least, this is the app I use the most. It contains my diary and all my blog-related notes. The main drawback of AWESOME NOTE is that is does not allow export to PDF, so I am still nervous about my growing note collection solely backed up through iTunes. For this reason, I have also tried DAILYBOOK, an excellent diary and note-taking app that also allows multiple journals. Yet it does not allow to move easily entries from one journal to the other, which is essential for me, so I went back to AWESOME NOTE.

Although I have not yet used it, I am also in love with the MOLESKINE app. I am hoping to use it for my sketches soon though!

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