[Athen] Notetaker apps for iPad

Sean J Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Mon Jun 21 12:56:10 PDT 2010

A question was posed on the RESNA list earlier today regarding iPad apps
that are available for notetaking and I thought I would post my response
to these lists as well.

There are several screen-recording apps that your student may want to
consider. I have used a few and they all seem to have various pros and
cons, but do a decent job overall. I (generally) focused on those apps
that are at least 3+ stars in terms of reviews. You can find more
information about these through the iTunes store. I did not try these
with an external keyboard, but only used the on-screen keyboard (I have
spoken with others who have used external keyboard with no issues, but I
have not tested personally).

Auditorium ($6.99)
Auditorium allows you to record as well as take notes via the keyboard.
It has a nice category system as well as the capability to send your
text and audio notes via e-mail. You can also change the paper
background as well as the typing font. You can bookmark content to
refer back to later. I have had some issues when attempting to jump
around on the audio "timeline", so I am not sure what is happening.
Also, the interface changes slightly when you move from landscape to
portrait view, which is a bit frustrating when you are looking for a
very specific option that you know exists but you can't seem to
find...unless you rotate the iPad. Then you have to remember in which
orientation you need to be to get the functions you want - that just not
right, IMO.

Very nice looking app, but it just has some functionality issues that
really need to be corrected.

Evernote (Free)
I have not had the chance to really test Evernote, but have tried out
some of the basic features. Evernote is also a Web-based application
that stores your notes. You can either take simple text notes and audio
recordings on the iPad and then sync this information with your
Web-based account. If you have pictures on your iPad, you can add these
pictures to your note and then upload that to the Evernote Web interface.

The interface for the Web-based account is very similar to wiki-style
editing, so you can do a lot more in terms of formatting. The audio
recording option was okay, but it looks like there may be a limit of 20
minutes for a recording (I have not gone beyond 20 minutes). You are
limited with the free account to a 40MB upload allowance, but the
premium account gives you lots of options.

Simplenote (Free)
Simplenote is a bit simpler than Evernote, and while similar in that
both have a Web-based interface as well for synchronization/sharing, it
does not seem to have quite as many features or options as Evernote.
Basically, it takes basic text notes (much like the Notepad app) and
then you can upload these to your Web account. There does not appear to
be any audio recording options.

Sound Paper ($4.99)
Sound Paper is perhaps the most similar to using the Pulse Livescribe
pen in that it records audio and synchronizes the audio with text notes
on the page. You enter text via the keyboard and this text information
is synchronized with the audio stream. There is an option to have a
"pen" interface which allows you to use your finger to draw on the pad.
Interesting feature for when you have lots of diagrams/charts you need
to record (with the audio), but it is limited when attempting to enter
words. You can e-mail the text content, a PDF of the page, the audio
content *with* PDF information, or share with a Mac or PC (need to be on
same network).

This app really nailed the functionality aspect with respect to
synchronized notes and audio, whereas Auditorium has a nicer user
interface. A blend of these two apps would be really cool, but in terms
of functionality, Sound Paper is definitely much better and does not
suffer from some of the awkward behavior of Auditorium.

Penultimate ($2.99)
I also added Penultimate even though this app does not record audio.
Basically, Penultimate allows you to use your finger as a stylus/pen and
"write" your notes or sketch diagrams. It does a very nice job of
tracking your finger movements and also has a "wrist-protection" mode so
that it ignores other interactions with the display (e.g., when your
wrist touches the display when writing/sketching). It does get a bit
tiring to "write" all content with your finger, but in terms of
sketching diagrams, this app is very nice.

So, while it does not do audio, it is very handy in terms of sketching
diagrams or charts. There are Undo and Redo options, which are always a
plus for me.

Hope this helps. There may be other apps out there - AllNotes is one I
want to try out - but these are the ones that I have played with so far.

Take care,
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