Note taking on iOS – Notes vs Evernote

Over the past couple of months, I started ditching my notebook and pen at work and started taking down notes using my iPad and sometimes at meetings with my iPhone. Initially, it started with my iPhone 6 plus but that didn’t really look good in front of other colleagues and staff and using my iPad to take notes instead seemed to portray a more respective demure especially during meetings.

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Pre-iOS 9

Back before iOS 9 was launched, the defacto application I had on my Macbook Pro, iPhone and iPad was Evernote. I used it to keep all of my notes, separated into several notebooks to tidy up all the notes that I took during meetings.

Evernote
A screenshot of my Evernote app on Mac OS X

It was easy to use, I could easily separate out the notes and best of all I could use the search and tagging functionality to easily search for meeting notes which I have recorded down for easy quick reference. Heck, there were times I even had certain passwords stored as notes for easy retrieval (I have since moved them to a password application instead for better security).

Other functionalities such as the ability to format text when taking down notes was a real plus for me as well.

So to me, Evernote was the winner hands down then.

Post-iOS 9

Ever since Apple has updated the internal Notes application with the launch of iOS 9, I am finding myself torn between these two applications.

Apple iOS 9 Notes

Basically, Apple was playing catch up with many applications out there which took their native applications and made it a lot better. So over the last month, I decided to stop using Evernote and started using Notes on all of my devices, from my Macbook to my iPhone as well as on my iPad.

Here are some of my key thoughts after using iOS 9 Notes for the past month.

iOS 9 Notes – The Good

  • The app loads up extremely fast – As it is a native application within iOS, the speed in which it loads up is incredible. Especially in times when you needed to quickly pen something down. This is definitely one of the key benefits of notes.
  • You can add in scribbles – If you own an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, you can literally write and scribble down annotations into note natively. That is IF you do own either of those devices. I tried writing on it with my finger and it was near impossible.

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  • You can add in checklists into your notes – The ability to add checkboxes into your notes does add a certain productivity advantage. For example, in your meeting notes, you might have action items generated out from your discussions and these check boxes do help you keep track of that. Still Apple has a reminders app which I feel is a huge let down as a To-Do application.
  • iCloud sync is extremely fast – All your notes get synced across your devices extremely fast as soon as they are on an internet connection. I left two of my devices on the table, my iPhone and iPad. As soon as I created a note on my iPad, I could see a new note appearing on my iPhone in about 10 seconds. That is definitely a great feature compared to Evernote especially when I forget to press the sync button at times and I didn’t get the sync the notes across all my devices.
  • Notes is native – When the application comes in the form of it being a native application with the operating system, the engineers at Apple made sure that they are all interconnected. What do I mean by that? You can create notes using Siri, you can share notes to other native applications as well as third-party applications. This makes it deeply intertwined within the operating system which does bring a lot of collaborative benefits.

iOS 9 Notes – The Bad

  • Formatting text is tedious – Changing the size of the text, making it bold or underlining it is not as straightforward compared to other Notes applications. You can’t set the default text size as well as the font which drives me crazy as I always preferred if the font was a little larger. The keyboard shortcuts work well on the Macbook but working with notes on the iPhone or iPad isn’t as efficient as I might want it to be. You can change a whole bunch of formatting for Notes in the OS X version but when it comes to the iOS version, you have extremely limited functionality.
  • So when it comes to formatting the best device starts from the Macbook, followed by the iPad and then the iPhone which I believe Apple designed that for each device type, the ability to format quickly on the go is limited to the various situations in which you might be using it. For example, you might just take simple notes on your phone for situations when you need to quickly whip out a device. For more serious applications, that is when Notes on the Mac comes in.
  • No tags for notes – Unlike the rest of OS X where I can tag files, I can’t tag my notes with keywords hence sifting through them can be quite tedious looking for specific notes from a previous meeting that I might have taken down notes for.

Conclusion

Overall to me, I feel that the Notes app still has a lot of room for improvement. Over the past month I feel that by making that switch over to Notes, it felt more of a downgrade rather than an upgrade to Evernote. The font formatting was the main driver of my decision mostly because when the amount of notes get stacked up and I need to quickly review it, the formatting helps me organise my data accordingly.

You can get Evernote free from the Apple Store!