OneNote is an underrated note taking app, that doubles its usefulness on an iPad Pro

Notability, Good Notes, Apple’s own Notes app. The list goes on for decent note taking apps on iOS that are convenient, user friendly and most of all, store notes simply so users can not be afraid of lost data

Search “Note Taking Apps for iOS” on Google and YouTube, and you see a common trend between those three apps, they come up often and are quite popular. Why? Because they are easy to use, have syncing for multi device use on the Apple Ecosystem and are very powerful for pro users. But the less commonly mentioned underdog is OneNote, it is mentioned not as much as the others on line (most commonly Notability and Good Notes go head to head often) and isn’t really brought up often aside from lists online that go for more than 3 to 5 apps, where writers need some variety for comparison against the likes of Apple’s Notes app, or even Evernote’s Paper app.

The current landscape for apps of choice for note taking is generally fairly competitive in the top 5 for this category, and then a miraid of smaller apps that fill the role of note taker and that’s it – hell even Square Space makes a note taking app.
But really, what makes a good note taking app that folks want to use?

You look at the way the developers of these apps have designed them and iterated them over the years and it comes down to four key elements:
1) Easy to use UI
2) Tabbed notes feature and easy to organize content
3) Handwriting conversion & Apple Pen Support
4) Cloud Syncing


Now I did swap for a short time to Apple Notes a little while ago, and I had over 100 notes to import by hand to the platform. I gave up halfway through, as iCloud let me down severely and had a prolonged delay on the syncing of content, as such my Elder Scrolls Blades launch review was lost and I had to re-write it. I did so on OneNote.

A lot of long term iOS users who generally aim for simplicity stick with the Notes app, it does the job, it takes text input…. That’s it (on the simple side). But for note taking power users who use note apps as their physical notebooks, then these apps should (and Can) do more.
I live in an all digital paperless world. I have every bill, invoice, contract and component that could be sent digitally, sent that way. I sign everything with PDF Pen (Thanks Myke Hurley for the recommendation on Upgrade last year), buy all my books (including technical books) on Amazon just to make full use of the Kindle app, and use Duolingo for my language learning on these devices, no physical books in sight, I even cut the cord and use Amazon Prime/Netflex/YouTube/Twitch for all my entertainment.

But that’s the thing. I haven’t always been a long term iOS user until recently, and was primarily an Android user and on Windows for most of my personal & professional life. When I made the switch last year to being a full iOS user (I have had a few iPads over the years, but not had an iPhone in a long while) as well as owning a MacBook Pro, my note taking app of choice was available on all three devices so I installed it and took full advantage of the syncing feature I loved on the Windows & Android counterparts to bring EVERYTHING over, and formatted correctly.

When you have all your content over, the macOS version does look a fraction different to the newer looking Windows and iPad versions, but otherwise all the features are still here however. The Notebook can be selected at the top, adding sections to the notebook for different categories and such, and then adding pages to those sections for content.
Microsoft also fully supports Apple’s Pencil and gestures on the iPad, so double tap to swap between your pen type and the eraser, tilted gestures for writing and drawing, as well as annotating images that you can scan in with the iPads camera or if you brought them in earlier from your iPhone.
OneNote also supports widgets in iOS for easy access to notes, as well as the scanning feature and photos or a new list, which comes in handy for short notes like a quick to do or for a shopping list.

The app however didn’t always support these features out of the box and as a result copped some criticism for the community however Microsoft and the OneNote team do push frequent updates to the app on all platforms to further advanced its features and keep performance at good level for what it can offer users..

OneNote has been a consistent pleasure to use, and with its full features (and free price) can be used as a full writing suite replacement since it supports multiple export types, including PDF and sharing to other OneNote users. On Android as well, you have a feature called chat heads, where similar to the Facebook feature, allows a floating widget to quickly access existing content and write newer short notes, like the widget on iOS.
I keep my entire life of notes and ideas, even writing, inside of OneNote and it has supported my workflow for years (even as a swapped back from Notability a few years ago and then left that for Google Keep). Its more capable and refined than Apple Notes, as feature rich as Notability and words like Microsoft Word. The only feature I would appreciate is an import feature from other apps or import file formats to help move content over.

Sam Toohey Written by:

Sam is a self taught Developer, focusing on Web Technologies and E-Commerce. He is also an avid writer, blogger and gamer. You can commonly see Sam toying around with web technologies or working on his Podcast, Markup.

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