Today’s TiPb Top 5 is directed towards our iPhone and iPod touch wielding readers who love to take notes on the go. Just like our other TiPb’s top 5 must-have posts, all of these applications are available in the App Store. For the full run down, follow us after the break!
Okay, all the applications are available in the App Store but this one -- Apple's Notes is built-in and comes pre-installed on every iPhone and iPod touch. And it's not bad. Harkening back to the old PalmOS Memo app, you can add a note, start typing, hit Home, and the Note is automagically (and persistently) saved. That's right, no explicit user action is needed -- not even to name it as Notes just pulls the first line and uses that as the name. You can add new notes, edit old notes, and delete what you no longer need. You can also sync Notes via iTunes now (though not via MobileMe... get on that, Apple!)
Set up to look like a yellow, legal-esque note pad, the only drawback is the almost universally panned use of the Marker Felt font. If you can stand that, it's simple but it's free and you don't even have to download it. For some users, that's all they'll ever need. For me, it's perfect to jot down a hotel room, phone number, parking space, or anything else I want to remember and keep with me.
Simplenote (and Notational Velocity + DropBox)
Simplenote by itself is just as the name implies, quick, clean, and highly usable. Instead of tethered iTunes sync over USB, Simplenote offers secure wireless sync to the cloud (their WebApp). You can keep using it free with fairly unobtrusive adds, or for $8.99 a year (less than $1 a month) you can go "premium" which removes the ads and gives you auto backup (versioning), create by email, an RSS feed, unlimited API use, and some cherries on top like early access to future features.
If you're a note ninja, however, combining Simplenotes with Notational Velocity could dang-near blow your mind. Notational Velocity is a desktop client that offers modeless operation (search is your gateway), incremental search (start typing, it starts filtering), and keyboard-optimized operation. DropBox can store the data/files so you can enjoy not only iPhone to desktop, but cross-desktop sync as well. Getting things done indeed!
This is pretty much the nuclear option when it comes to note-oriented productivity, and the scaling from just Simplenote to the cross-platform sync solution is impressive. If you're the high-order geek and notes are where your life lives, this combo can be hard to beat.
PhatNotes [$9.99 - iTunes link] is a big, bold drought of note taking. On the surface, it's covered in icons and colors. Under the hood you can organize "thousands" of notes in folders and groups. It also supports handwriting recognition so you can scribble your note on the screen and Phatnotes will OCR it and turn it into editable text. (A process which works pretty well (and yes, internet, it does OCR and print curse words without any censorship).
You can sync PhatNotes for iPhone with the PhatNotes for Windows desktop client (no Mac client... yet?). Given the price tag, PhatNotes will most likely appeal to hardcore on-device users who want to do as much as possible on their mobile, especially if they already use PhatNotes on the PC and see the sync as a bonus.
For those who like the handwriting recognition but don't want the higher price and fuller organizational features, the same developer offers WritePad [$1.99 - iTunes link]
Appigo's Notebook [$4.99 - iTunes link] earns a spot immediately simply by virtue of its integration with the excellent Appigo Todo, but proves its own worth with clever offline/online note sync handling, password protection for secure notes, Toodledo.com sync, and TextExpander [$4.99 - iTunes link] support.
The user interface is simply gorgeous and the workflow is quick and easy. Notebook isn't free but it's not premium priced, it's not bound to the desktop or the cloud, and if you're invested in Toodledo, TextExpander, and/or Appigo Todo... well, you likely have it already! If you don't, and you want a flexible yet elegant note-taking solution, give it a look.
We're not just including Evernote [Free - iTunes link] so that Chad (and Leo Laporte) don't smack us around for not including, though that's certainly a plus. Evernote is literally -- and iconically -- the big elephant in the note-space. Unlike the apps above, Evernote isn't primarily focused on traditional, text-based note taking. It puts pictures and voice right up front alongside text. What's more, it will make text included in your photos searchable (though it won't OCR that text and make it editable -- please ad?)
You can sync Evernote for iPhone with Evernote for Windows or Mac, or for other mobile devices running Android or BlackBerry OS. If the free functionality isn't enough for you, you can "go premium" for $5 a month or $45 a year. Premium gets you 500MB of monthly upload bandwidth, support for Office docs, PDF, and videos, share and collaborate with other premium users, and SSL encryption.
Evernote is a great choice for people who want to include a wider range of material and basically scrapbook their notes as they go. It's also especially handy for cross-platform users with different desktop and mobile platforms. If you're not already using a different cloud-based or desktop solution, Evernote is something to check out.
iPhone and iPod touch users are fortunate to enjoy a wide range of high quality note apps, everything from the built-in to tons of App Store downloads (we barely scratched the surface here!), from free to premium, from cloud-based to desktop-bound. Which one is best for you will depend on what, if anything, you're already using and what functionality matters most to you.
If we didn't mention your favorite, or if you have any ninja or pro tips to share to take our iPhone note-taking to the next level, let us know in the comments!