Top note-taking apps for iOS

This week's collection of iOS apps are all about taking notes. The first is all about taking notes that autosync across all your devices; the second offers a sleek-looking interface with several themes to categorize your notes; and the last is an iPad-only app offering an elegant system for keeping your class and meeting notes organized.

Aside from games, some of the most popular categories of iOS apps in the iTunes App Store are note-taking apps. Whether you're a student taking notes for class or your workday requires that you take notes in meetings, a handy app that makes it easy to jot things down and organize them can be incredibly useful.

Apple's Pages ($9.99) is probably the most obvious choice here, having been around since the first iPad was launched (now a universal app for iPhone and iPod Touch as well), but there are several third-party apps that offer different features that might be more in tune with your style of note-taking.

This week's iOS apps are all about taking notes. The first is all about taking notes that autosync across all your devices; the second offers a sleek-looking interface with several themes to categorize your notes; and the last is an iPad-only app offering an elegant system for keeping your class and meeting notes organized.

Evernote

Use the All Notes view to quickly find which notes you want to work with.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Evernote (free; universal) is just one part of an excellent, access-from-anywhere note-taking system. In addition to Evernote on your iOS device, you can create and get to your notes from a variety of mobile devices (including apps for both the iPhone and iPad) and any Web browser on any computer. A free Evernote account links all your notes together.

Evernote is a mature and popular app, with an impressively streamlined interface that shares similarities across its multiple platforms and gives you many different ways to create notes and collections of notes called notebooks. Your notes can be text, images, or Web clippings, but a premium account will let you save other file types, too.

In addition to typing in notes via Evernote (using word-processor-style formatting tools), you can also add images and record audio or iSight notes to attach to your project. You can tag and search all your notes from anywhere (with fairly amazing character recognition in images), export notes in a variety of ways (once synced to desktop), and Evernote syncs up your info as often as you want.

There's a lot to like in Evernote, and the fact that it's free makes this app easy to try out. If you're looking for a note-taking app that syncs across all platforms--or just an easy way to keep track of your digital odds and ends--Evernote is a worthwhile download.

Awesome Note

The sleek interface of Awesome Note lets you color-code your folders and notes with themes.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Awesome Note for iPhone ($3.99; iPad version, $4.99) lets you manage messages, memos, and ideas in several unique ways. An intuitive interface lets you use themes to help categorize information the way you want and get to the information you need quickly. Awesome Note includes a few demo categories (shown as folders) that you can use to see how your notes and info will be laid out. You can create new folders by hitting the add folder button in the lower right, selecting your preferred color, and adding a title. Opening a folder displays your notes for that category laid out as thumbnails so you can quickly find the specific note you want. You can also configure the program to display to-dos as a running list or as a separated list with completed items on top.

Once you have your category folders set up, simply open a folder, add a note, and start typing using the regular portrait view or in landscape mode by turning your iPhone sideways. You can also customize your notes by choosing from a wide variety of themes and fonts. When you're finished, you can easily drop your note into other category folders or e-mail the information to whomever you want. Overall, if you are looking for an easy-to-use to-do list manager and note-taking app, the folder-based note management and customizable themes of Awesome Note make it a worthwhile option.

Notability (99 cents; iPad only) might be the best note-taking app we've seen for the iPad, with tons of useful features that are easily accessed through the app's intuitive interface. Perfect for students or really anyone who needs to gather and organize information, Notability lets you use your onscreen keyboard (or a compatible Bluetooth keyboard) to keep track of information by grouping your notes into categories by subject.

Notability

Use stylized text, add colors, import images, and more with this note-taking app for iPad.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

You can start a new note by tapping on the Compose button, or open an existing note from the start screen. You have the option to open notes from Dropbox, and from your iDisk on MobileMe, or you can open a note directly out of the iPad e-mail app. You can then organize notes by subject to make it easy to find an older note, or you can use the search box if you know what you're looking for. In the beginning we found the unnamed buttons a little difficult to understand, but a quick run through Notability's Help section made it easy to organize, move, and export notes with only a few touches on the screen.

Along with notes you can add images and other media, and Notability even offers an area to draw your own diagrams, make charts, and crop your images to make them fit to your particular project. Unlimited undo and redo is also available, so there's plenty of room to experiment.

When you've finished writing and organizing your notes, you have the ability to quickly export one or all of your notes to e-mail, your iTunes library, Dropbox, your iDisk, or send them to your server via WebDav.

We think Notability has the tools and added features to make it one of the best in the iTunes App Store. If you're looking for a great way to take notes on your iPad in a school or work setting, Notability is a must-have app.

Do you have a note-taking app that's better than the ones above? Let us all know in the comments!

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments