As noted in my article on Evernote, I don’t use it for everything. Students and many others require a little more in a note-taking app than just words. They need pictures, quick graphs, and as a design guy, I need to be able to doodle. Don’t get me wrong, I really do use Evernote quite a bit, but not so much for situations that might involve notes taken in a meeting or a class.
Ok….But What Sets Notability Apart?
As an example, Evernote makes it hard to insert graphs and pictures when you’re trying to grab everything a professor is saying. There’s no handwriting support (unless you’re using Penultimate, but that can be a bit of a hassle in my experience).
Notability allows you to do all these things and more. Here are some of my favorite features:
Handwriting & Typing
That’s right. Both, in the same app. Notability allows you to type (including structured list support) and then draw on the same note when you need to. This is ideal for classes like math where I want to be able to remember what the teacher said, but also be able to write down the formulas and examples used.
Colors, Line Width, and Highlighting
Some of the best things about Noteabilities handwriting support aren’t just that it does support it, but that it does what you want it to. There’s not much that’s been left wanting. Imagine getting rid of your pencil pouch full of highlighters and colored pens and instead using your favorite stylus (or finger) to do all of those those things.
Notability supports 15 different regular colors, 6 different line sizes, and 17 different highlight colors. All of these add up to some pretty awesome color coding for your regular meetings, important notes found easily, and some pretty cool drawings.
Notability also supports audio recording using the built-in microphone of your iOS device. This isn’t a feature that I use very often because I rarely need to relisten to an entire lecture, but many people seem to enjoy this feature.
Cut, Copy, Paste
Not only can you handwrite your notes and charts, but if you need to cut, copy, move, or paste them, Notability makes that simple too. This is done by selecting the scissors icon, selecting the area you need and either dragging it to the desired position or selecting the desired action.
Pictures and images
Another favorite feature is the ability to import photos from my photo library and caption them, or to simply take a picture and caption it directly from the app. This has saved me a number of times when there was a large amount of information on the Powerpoint slide that I needed to keep, but didn’t have time to write down. Again, for example, most teachers post their slides online, but it’s better to have the information in an easy to access place rather than jumping through hoops online to get a specific slide.
Paper and Stickies
On the iPad app you’re able to change your paper to any number of types like college-ruled, graph paper, or a variety of stationary-type papers. You’re also able to insert “stickies” that have many different styles like graph paper.
Today, we all want all of our stuff to be everywhere we are. This is no different with our notes (this is one of the reasons why Evernote has had so much success). A note app that didn’t keep all my notes up to date and organized wouldn’t be of much use to me. This is why I switched to Evernote from Apple Notes a long time ago (though I hear it’s improved).
This is where Notability excels. Using Dropbox, iCloud, Box, or a number of other cloud storage services, you’re able to sync your notes across devices and are able to access them from anywhere. This is really one of my favorite features because after I take the notes and go to do my work on my Macbook, I don’t even have to open the app again to view the notes. I just open up the PDF from my Dropbox and can view my notes from there. I can also review my notes on my iPhone or review quickly with others anywhere.
I’ve written a number of times about a few of my favorite writing apps and ways that I organize my writing. You may even be wondering if I just use everything for everything. I hope that I haven’t. I believe that each application has an intended purpose and strength and should be used according to it’s strengths.
Notability was built for the student as a tool to make their life easier and to encourage technology in acadamia. It’s a great product, and it even won the Apple Editor’s Choice & Best of 2013 in Smart Productivity Awards.