Tag Archives: notetaking

My Main Concern With Apple Notes: No Good Export

Feeling Trapped with Apple Notes_1

The last time I wrote about Apple Notes was in early July. I wrote that post to try and balance out all of the very strongly-worded posts about dumping Evernote and jumping to Apple Notes, the newest free note-taking solution that synced across all Apple devices.

I can see why most people don’t want to have to pay for a Notes solution, so moving from Evernote to Apple Notes seems like a very easy switch. However, I was wary of fully committing to Apple’s service because there doesn’t seem to be any easy way of getting your data out of the service in a meaningful way. You can get plain text notes to export from Apple Notes…but that’s about it. All the pictures, rich URLs, media, and any files you’ve attached to your notes…those can’t be exported en masse or imported into any other service at this time.

Despite all of that, I decided to give Apple Notes another solid try for the past month and a half.

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A Few Thoughts On The Upcoming Paper 3.6 Update (and Beyond)

The sidebar in Paper 3.6
The sidebar in Paper 3.6

FiftyThree announced that Paper 3.6 is coming out soon, and I’m excited to see the upcoming changes. I use Paper on a weekly basis at my job for sketching quick diagrams and throwing charts together for presentation. The biggest new feature is a re-imagining of the way that content is organized within Paper. We did see an overhaul of the Space metaphor when Paper 3.0 was launched, but Paper 3.6’s sidebar feels more in line with how I want to use the app.

The strength of Paper is in its editing UI. It’s great at making content creation feel very natural. I can mix paints together, cut and move objects quickly, and zoom in with a pinch when I want to do more fine details on a diagram.

However, there is a lot of wasted space in the current UI when it comes to managing different books. It just feels like FiftyThree was a little bit too in love with the metaphor of paper in the digital realm, and the new sidebar looks to be a much more efficient way of navigating my own content. I’m also hoping that the sidebar search will also work to highlight any text I may have attached to a sheet, but since the teaser post doesn’t mention that, I’m not holding my breath.

Organizing Spaces in Paper 3.5.4
Organizing Spaces in Paper 3.5.4

With that in mind, I do have a few other thoughts on what I’d like to see from Paper moving forward:

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The Apple Pencil Enhances Note-Taking On The iPad Pro

Pencil - notetaking

On the whole, I think most reviewers have been too dismissive of the Apple Pencil. There’s no question in my mind that the Apple Pencil is a boon to digital artists. The pinpoint accuracy and the incredible palm rejection make for the very best drawing device I’ve ever used on iOS, but I think the Pencil has a wider appeal than that.

There are lots of pen-and-paper users out there, and I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time and money over the past year in an effort to become one. I acknowledge how silly that sounds, but digital has always been a more comfortable medium for note-taking than a paper notebook, at least as far as I’m concerned. Digital notes can be tagged, duplicated, and synced to any of my devices. I also type far faster than I can write.

But there is no denying there’s a romantic aspect to writing with a real pen, even to a zero-and-one digital loyalist like myself. The scratchiness of a fountain pen on good paper, the sensation of posting a cap before you write, and the way the ink flows over the page — all of these sensations are satisfying in a similar way to typing on a great keyboard. There’s a lot to delight in when you’re writing with quality tools.

This is where the Pencil comes in for me. With the introduction of this accessory, Apple has suddenly given Evernote, Paper, and their own Notes app far greater appeal. There are many instances where text notes don’t fully capture an idea, where a quick diagram would do far more to preserve a memory or train of thought. However, creating these diagrams with any degree of accuracy has always taken extra effort on the iPad. Keeping the palm off of the screen has always been of paramount importance, lest you accidentally activate a multitasking gesture, or leave weird marks on the page from where your palm was resting. All of the third-party stylii with palm rejection only worked about 50% of the time because they were at odds with multitasking gestures built right into iOS. Prior to the Pencil, writing and drawing on iPads always took a considerable degree of contortion to succeed in.

Apple’s Pencil is noteworthy because it breaks all of the rules that other stylii had to abide by…and it just works. It has the power to turn metal and glass into something similar enough to paper. I don’t think it’s overdramatic to say that it sets the form factor free. We’ve been able to use iPads as little writing laptops for a few years now, but the Pencil is what allows you to use an iPad like a blank sheet. You can rest your hand anywhere on the screen when you want to write, and drawing feels very natural, especially when you can physically rotate or tilt the entire canvas. This is something that no other iOS or OS X device can do as well, and it’s a a very powerful selling point for the iPad platform.

In preparation for this article, I’ve spent a lot of time on the iPad Pro in a particular set of apps that have fine-tuned their experience with the Pencil.

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Quick Look: Evernote 7.9 for iPad with iOS 9 Multitasking and Drawing Tools

Evernote 7.9 for iPad2

Evernote’s latest update to hit the App Store brings two great features to the iPad: drawing and multitasking. iPad Pro and Apple Pencil support were also added, but I couldn’t quite test that yet, for lack of all the necessary hardware. I’ll just have to take their word for it.

Multitasking

Evernote now plays nicely with other split-screen apps on iOS 9, so I can have it loaded alongside Safari or Mail for taking notes. This is a very big deal and is really changing the way I use the app across my iPad. I like keeping Evernote as my active Slide Over app, so that I can swipe left from any screen and quickly access or search my notes. This feels comparable to having a desktop-level widget on iOS, and I can only imagine how cool it would be to have Evernote open full-time on an iPad Pro.

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