I use my iPhone and iPad for many things including making notes and to that end I have a number of note apps on both devices. Some of them I’ve tried and some are awaiting evaluation.
Not all note apps are the same, however. Penultimate, which I reviewed on episode 46 of MacBites and Notes Plus, which I’ve recently started to use and will review in a future episode, are more of a notebook than a notepad. I use these apps for tasks such as note-taking and creating drawings or sketches when I’m in a meeting. I’m no artist so by sketches, I mean a rough sketch of a dialog box or a sketch of data flow in an application I’m building. Also Penultimate and Notes Plus are only available for the iPad.
What I’ve been looking for is an app that allows me to create simple notes, primarily on the iPhone. For example, I’m out walking the dog and I get an idea about something for MacBites or I’m at work and I’m going to a meeting and I need a note of the room number or I’m going to meet someone and they say “call me when you get to reception” and I need a note of their extension number. In the days of analogue notes (i.e. pen and paper), I’d carry a pocket-sized notepad and I want to replace that functionality with the digital equivalent on the iPhone.
I’d like to be able to have separate folders for different things – for example, a work folder, a MacBites folder, a shopping folder.
A nice, friendly interface is also important, as is the ability to backup notes and get them off the phone.
I have (and in fact still do) used Evernote, which satisfies all these criteria (and has the added advantage that I can add notes via a web browser), however the Evernote iPhone app still needs some improvement. For example, I have several notebooks in my Evernote account but the iPhone can’t display notes just for a single notebook. <--Update - this feature has now been added - I wrote this blog post the day before Evernote 4.0 for the iPhone was released!
So after much thought I’ve decided to give Awesome Note a try. I’ve had it on the iPhone for a while and they’ve recently released an iPad app, which I bought at the weekend. I’ve not had chance to delve into it any any great depth so for now I’m going to focus on configuring it. In a future post I’ll look in more detail at using it’s many features. <-update - unless I stick with Evernote!
Awesome Note is not just a notes app, it also supports ToDo notes and provides ToDo management features such as a calendar view, due dates, alarms, priority setting and the ability to mark tasks as complete.
It synchronises to both Evernote and Google Docs so 1) I’ve got a backup of my notes in the Cloud and 2) I can use one or both of these services as a conduit to sync notes between the iPhone and iPad versions of the app.
Unlike many note apps, Awesome Note works in landscape mode on the iPhone as well as portrait, so you get a wider area to type into. You switch modes by simply tapping a button on the screen. This toggles between “auto-rotation” and “lock rotation”, although if the iPhone is locked in portrait mode via the main lock button, it remains locked even if you set Awesome Note to auto-rotation.
So what of the app?
When you launch it, there is a default set of folders already set up. These include work, travel, shopping, to do and more. I decided to start from scratch so I deleted all these folders and set up my own. This is done by clicking the Folder Settings button at the bottom of the screen. As well as being the place to create and rename folders, the Folder Settings section is used to configure folders.
Each folder can have a colour assigned to it and can also have an icon, which you select from a palette. When you look at the app’s home page, you see the folders listed, each represented by a coloured tab with the folder name and the icon sitting on top of the tab. The Folder Settings section is also used to password protect folders – individual folders can be password-protected by setting a 4-digit code and to set the sync options – syncing can be enabled or disabled for individual folders.
Finally, in the Folder Settings, you can set the default font and note background theme – there’s about 15 backgrounds ranging from grey slate, to yellow lined paper and there’s even a pink one!
To create a note, from the app’s home page, tap on the folder that the note will be stored in, click the ‘Plus’ icon at the top right of the screen and start typing. As well as text, notes can store photos, either existing ones from the camera roll or new ones taken with the iPhone’s camera and can even include the location courtesy of the iPhone’s geo-location capabilities.
The ability to store photos was actually one of the reasons that I was attracted to the app as I planned to use it as a shopping app, although now I’ve found a dedicated shopping app that supports photos.
Another way to create a note is to click the “Quick Memo” icon which looks like a pad of Post-it notes. It actually gives you a pad of 8 notes – 4 of which can store typed text and 4 of which can be “scribbled on” with either your finger or a stylus. Notes created in this way are saved to the app’s Inbox and can be moved to another folder later. In fact, any note can be moved from one folder to another simply by selecting the name of the folder from a drop down list whilst you are inside the note to be moved.
As a notes app (and so far I’ve only used the Notes part of it), it’s excellent and by all accounts the ToDo features are rather powerful too.
For more information see http://www.bridworks.com/anote/en/main/index.php
The app is available from the iTunes Store and costs £2.39 (iPhone) and £2.99 (iPad)
There is a free version, Awesome Note Lite which is limited to a maximum of 10 notes and no syncing