A Word Of Caution Before Moving To Apple Notes

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Apple Notes

Evernote announced a price increase last week, and also told the free tier of users that they’d be limited to syncing a maximum of two devices. Plus subscriptions are $35 USD per year, and Premium subscriptions are $70 USD per year. This isn’t a ton of money per month, but it’s enough to make you think about what you could spend that money on instead.

These Evernote pricing changes also come at a time when people are thinking more about subscriptions in general. We don’t know how many apps will adopt it, but the way we pay for software could change a lot starting with iOS 10 and the expansion of subscriptions to a great number of app categories. The Pay-Once-And-Update-Forever model obviously isn’t working well for a lot of developers (surprise!), and I might have to start paying monthly or annual subscriptions for the apps I really love using.

So the “in thing” to do in tech spheres has been to warn users to jump ship to Apple Notes or OneNote, because they’re the closest options in terms of features…and they’re free.

I won’t try to dissuade anyone from moving to OneNote. I have been using the service for my work notes. However, the service just doesn’t jive with me because I dislike how OneNote organizes notebooks only by Date Created, and not by Date Modified. But OneNote is beloved by a lot of people, and really is a very solid contender in the note-taking space.

It’s actually Apple Notes that I think can be be a bit of a fly trap here. The service improved a lot in iOS 9 and improved a little more in iOS 10 with a three-panel interface on the iPad Pro and note collaboration. However, there is one aspect of Notes I am a little concerned about: export capability.

Keeping Exportability

Don’t get me wrong: Evernote didn’t make exporting easy. They said their mandate was that your data was yours and you should be able to take it elsewhere. But they didn’t really put in the work to get your data out in any truly useful way. Luckily, other people did.

OneNote made an Evernote-to-OneNote converter earlier this year, which you’ll need a Windows PC to use. iOS 9 and macOS El Capitan were also updated to convert Evernote’s .enex files and turn them into something that Notes could use.

My worry is that there won’t be an easy way to get my data out of Apple Notes in a meaningful way. The makers of Write App do have a plain text exporter for Apple Notes, which can be handy in a pinch…but you’re not really capturing the eseence of a note unless you’ve got the links, the pictures, and the files you had attached. You’re also missing things like the creation date, and the date you last made changes to the note. Things like that are what provide rich context to a digital note, and preserving that data is important.

Think Before Comitting To The Switch

I’m not saying you shouldn’t move over to Notes. In fact, I’m giving it another good try for my personal note-taking and leaving OneNote purely for work stuff.

If all you needed was a free note service that synced pics and text, then it’s a great solution that has come a long way. It’s also a first-party Apple product that’s bundle with iOS and macOS, so that’s about as good a promise as you’ll get in the tech world that Notes will continue to be offered and stay free.

But if Notes Development stagnates, investing in Apple’s system makes it hard to move elsewhere. It’s another point of platform lock-in that’s actually tougher than music files or photos. It’s pretty easy to preserve playlists if you want to move from Apple Music to Spotify, and it’s very easy to move from iCloud Photo Library to Lightroom. However, if the day comes where you’ll want to export your stuff out of Notes to try something else…that may not be very easy. It’s something to think about, at the very least.


Thomas

My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

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2 thoughts on “A Word Of Caution Before Moving To Apple Notes”

    1. I do love 2Do and I do use it myself. We’ve actually reviewed a few times on iPad Insight.
      But it’s not a notes app for me; I keep details about tasks there, but it’s more of a running list of tasks that I let myself forget.

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