Notability for iPad - app review

With Notability for iPad, Ginger Labs has a great app for note taking, especially if you are a student. Inevitably you will need to take notes on your iPad at some point, right? With so many other note taking apps out there another app has entered the ring, Notability also has some unique features that make them stand out from the rest. First, the basics.

Notability is setup by subject. You can create multiple subjects and put multiple notes in each subject. Sounds simple enough. However where Notability shines is the power of their notes. At first you will notice the standard fanfare that you come to expect from a note taking app. Folders (aka subjects), search, edit, email the note etc. However Notability can also sync to iTunes, Dropbox and print your notes.

The note taking experience is rather pleasant. Tap the compose button located on in the top right corner to begin. From here you can rename the default note name (Note 1 by default) to whatever you like. Tap return and you're in business to complete your note. But what is this? Besides just typing text you can change the font, color, emphasis and size? You can insert not only images from the Photo app, but you can also insert a figure and web clip.

The figure option allows you to draw your own figure and insert it into your note. You can draw free hand, change the line thickness, draw squares, circles and more. Once embedded in the note you can easily edit the note, resize and reposition it. If you want to embed a webpage, you can do that too. Navigate to the webpage you want from within Notability and presto, it's embedded too, just like the figure.

Beyond these cool features, there are subtle things as well such as the ability to tab/indent without having to do it manually and add numbered or lettered bullet points. You can even add an audio note (and geek out and change the frequency if you want!).

As awesome as these features are, they come at a small price. The performance of Notability is slow. Even opening a note with one word in it can take a few seconds. I know this may not seem like a lot, but if you are trying to quickly view multiple notes quickly, Notability has some challenges with this.

Overall, I like Notability and it's cool features that make it stand out. The web clipping feature was particularly helpful. If you are a student, this is definitely worth a try if you haven't found the must have note app for your workflow.

[$4.99- iTunes Link]

TiPb iPad 4-star rated

Pros

  • Great value with awesome features
  • Insert pictures, drawings and web clippings in your note
  • Format your notes with rich text
  • Export to different formats including email and Dropbox backup sync
  • Developer is always adding new features

Cons

  • Slow opening notes
  • Some items are not clearly delineated such as rename note and body of note

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Chad Garrett

Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

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There are 21 comments. Add yours.

jakej914 says:

It might have been $2.99 as of the writing of this review, but this app is now $4.99 :)

fastlane says:

Maybe it's a nice app if you want to later go back and re-format and organize "keepers".
But who has time for writing subjects, and formatting colors and fonts and bullets, or fumbling over options, while someone is rambling?
I still prefer Apple's Notes app. When someone calls me with directions, or someone begins spewing information at me, I can just click, type, and close without saving. And when I don't need them anymore, I can delete them without regretting a lot of time and effort wasted on them.

webvex says:

Sounds like Evernote, without the cross-platform support and it isn't free. I guess it has offline capability, but that hardly sets it apart from the gazillions of other note taking apps. Personally, I prefer to keep my information in non-proprietary formats, like plain text or markdown.

Fred Mitchell says:

The sale price of $2.99 is still available on the App Store.

Tpeazy says:

Actually, Notability is hands down the best note taking app I have used. You are always going to miss something and having the ability tobrecord and playback later is huge! Also, being able to format your notes and organize how your thoughts are organized helps you to be able to write less and understand more. I have tried several, and for me...it's no competition.

Mario Tenuta says:

I used this app for the first time yesterday in my business economics class. it was fantastic. so easy to edit and your notes and has basic font features. What I like the most wast the voice recording it was much louder and clearer than Evernote. I would recommend this app to any student out there .

Fred Mitchell says:

Notability has advanced recording features, that allow you to sync your notes, amplify playback, and share with others. Read more about it on our blog at www.gingerlabs.com/blog

patricksmangan says:

When u put a pic of a website like that in there, does it open the website in your browser when u tap it? Along those li es, do web addresses, emails, and phone numbers automatically become links?

Fred Mitchell says:

When you open a website, the built-in browser opens. You can visit the site of your choice. Tap Done and the page is inserted into the flow of your notes. When you select the web clip agin, you have a choice to open it in the browser or in the figure editor. You can handwrite and draw on the web page with freehand drawing tools and crop the page.
We will take your question regarding links as a suggestion for a future release of Notability.

Darlene Hill says:

Holy cow!! Thank you so much for this review. I take countless notes on my iPad during client meetings and this will be an amazing asset for me. I just posted the link to this review on my FB wall, calling it "notes-on-steroids". Oh and it was still $2.99 when I downloaded it this evening.

Mazon says:

I just downloaded it and I like it.
Thanks for the review and video

Justin says:

Hi Mazon,
We are very happy your are enjoying the app and please feel free to contact us with any questions!

Ginny says:

Where can I find a PDF of instrctions?

Shamblesguru says:

I have an iPad(1) and iPad2 ... and want to sync my Notability subjects/notes between the two ... is this possible?
Thx

william Windels says:

Hello, notability seems a good product: writing and recording at the same time, exporting to pdf , uploding to claude services (I heard: (moving in the record by using the word in the written text on that moment)... However, it seems not very accessible with the built in screenreader for blind people: voiceover. The bluetooth keyboard isn't working properly, buttons aren't labeled very clear, the navigation with the rotor is not working very well and there are so much buttons for lay-out things. It should be possible to hide some kind of buttons so there is less information on the screen. At the moment , it's nearly useless with voiceover but I hope the developers will work on better accessibility with voiceover. If some knows better persons to contact about this, pls mail me at william.windels@gmail.com Thanx alot for your readings and reactions. kind regards William Windels

Dennis M Dewey says:

I sent the developer some extra requests including support for multiple tabs (not just tabbing to indent the line) for creating tables out of monospaced fonts, keyboard shortcuts (like command-i for italic/command-b for bold etc.), and controls for spacing out the text better. There are some bugs with certain fonts using numbered lists that cause the actual bullet text to not line up properly with their respective lines. Despite these shortcomings, it is still hands down the best note-taking apps I've used....... out of the 20-30 or so I've tried.

matt says:

Version 3 looks nothing like the photos above, and infact is quite awful. I have emailed the developer my feedback and have been ignored, so i posted to the Facebook page, and my post was deleted.
The new Aqua/candified interface of v3 makes the app look like something most suitable to a 5 year old's xylophone, circa OSX 10.0
I appreciate that one can change the colours, but the whole candy interface is still an eyesore (as compared to refined, subtle, classy and mature textured tan leather look of version 2). Even the file browser names are much bigger font (and cannot be changed) and the bubbles around each folder are massive. I don't need a fluorescent yellow cartoon/icon next to each subject group, surrounded my fluorescent yellow highlighting with fat psychedelic colours around it. Each item now resembles the windows7 start menu.
Furthermore the forced page breaks are a disaster also, they cannot be disabled, I have been happily storing documents that i had written in macjournal, and exported to RTFD.  They have a combination of pictures and text, your forced page breaks are a disaster to my photos, I can only fit 2 photos per page, and the next photo cannot follow (across a page break) hence the text is messed up, and the photos are all messed up (and cannot be resited across hard page breaks).
Do not update to version 3 !

Guest says:

I think the colors look great, much better than the bland screenshots above.
I've been using this app to take notes in class -- it's fantastic!

Facebook says:

Thanks for your comment Dominic. I haven't seen that approach used yet, and I'm not sure that's possible. The code doesn't seem to have a trigger for applying or removing the +1. If you figure out a way to do that, come back and post your results. I'd love to hear how it went.

ron sellers says:

Downloaded to iPad 3 on recommendation of sister-in-law,
but accidentally erased the 'crossword puzzle cat' while
checking out the 'eraser'
Is there a way to restore the erased areas ?
Thought of deleting and then downloading 'Notability' again,
but new to this, and assume I'd be charged a second time
for the second download and install.
Thanks

meslie says:

This app is great!!!!
Recently i have found a new note taking/ projet management app which is really great too. This app is Beesy.
Beesy, generates automatically ToDo lists from a smart note taking. Also, the advantage is you can easily send your minutes by email. I love testing new business/ productivity apps such as Evernote, Penutilmate, Omnifocus, Awesome but it's the first time I see an app so well done. I recommend Beesy for people which often have meetings and want appreciate them again;)
Great post :)