Multimedia iPhone notes: YouNote and Evernote

Two note-taking applications, one goal. Which one do you want on your iPhone or iPod Touch?

YouNote and Evernote have won me over by making the iPhone and iPod Touch a powerful note-taking tool for anyone who frequently jots down thoughts and returns to them later. There's no absolute winner in this match, since each application takes a different note-taking approach, but by the review's end, we're guessing you'll have crowned one over the other.

Evernote for iPhone
Evernote for iPhone creates audio, text, and photo notes. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Evernote for iPhone

Evernote has been a real hit with CNET editors since its March beta, and with good reason. The service lets you add, access, and synchronize notes from just about everywhere--your Windows or Mac desktop, Web browser, Outlook calendar, Windows Mobile phone, and now your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Evernote ushers your text, doodles, voice notes, and photos into your account, which is stored on Evernote's servers. In addition to accessing all your synchronized notes from the iPhone, you'll be able to write new notes. You won't be able to doodle from the attractive iPhone application, but you can compose text, audio, and photo notes from scratch, and can also annotate the pictures in your Camera Roll.

In addition to storing photos, Evernote's service includes optical character recognition to extract words from images. Evernote's OCR is fairly accurate, but we've heard that premium account holders get their text translated faster than those with free accounts.

Evernote's major selling point is its presence on all your devices, but it holds its own as a standalone iPhone application. Tags are the only way to search for notes, which is bum luck for those lukewarm taggers. Filters that sort notes by day or type would be a welcome addition.

A free Evernote account grants 40MB of storage per month for all devices, including the iPhone. The premium package--$45 a year--raises the cap to 500MB per month and makes your character-recognition a priority. For a flexible note-taking service you can access from one or more places, Evernote excels.

YouNote for iPhone
YouNote's iPhone interface lists entries alphabetically, chronologically, and chromatically. (Credit: CNET Networks)

YouNote for iPhone

Although Evernote is a decent stand-alone note-keeper, YouNote surpasses it by integrating more device features. Like Evernote, YouNote welcomes text, photo, and audio notes, plus doodles and captured Web pages. Unlike Evernote, YouNote won't annotate pictures from your Camera Roll; however, it does harness the iPhone's GPS to geotag notes in a Google map.

In addition to tagging notes, you'll be able to associate them with a phone contact and assign a color scheme for organizational purposes. What's more, you can actually bundle multiple notes and media types into a single metanote. For instance, you could couple a photo note with an audio note for a later reminder about a complicated parking job.

Like Evernote, YouNote's search bar can quickly identify notes by tags, but the application also organizes notes alphabetically, by date, and by color. While most of the application is intuitive, the note-bundling feature isn't explicit, and you'll have to keep scrolling down on the notation screen to find the fields for assigning tags and color. It would be neat if the Google maps showed your precise location instead of the general neighborhood, and if you didn't have to leave YouNote to view the map.

Though Evernote and YouNote share a theme, their differing approaches make Evernote the logical pick for those who bounce between computers and devices, and YouNote the clear choice for those whose iPhone or iPod Touch will be their only digital notepad.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.