Longtime readers of my online mutterings will know that note-taking is a major preoccupation for me. A core part of my job, I’ve obsessed about the best way to gather, organise and keep important information even since getting my first mobile phone.
I was an Evernote fan for many years and it had a lot going for it. Great functionality, simple to use, available on multiple platforms and incredibly powerful search built right in. Sadly, it wasn’t to last. Slowly but surely, development on the app slowed to a crawl and so did access to my notes. After one crash too many, I started looking elsewhere.
Even the briefest of searches for notes apps could well leave you overwhelmed and anxious, so let me save you the effort. Apart from a few edge cases, I really believe that the best notes app you can use is the one you have with you all the time and is built into your devices. In this case, Apple’s own Notes app.
And so, a few weeks ago, I moved everything over to Notes and left Evernote (hopefully) for good.
From the most basic origins, Notes has blossomed into a relatively fully featured app. Notes are organised in notebooks, which you can in turn organise into folders. For me, this is important as part of keeping my professional and personal lives relatively separate.
The search functionality is second to none and I’m still amazed at how it manages to find some stuff I’ve had squirrelled away in there for years.
For me, the standout features of this app are often overlooked by the average user. For example, you can scan documents into it using your iPhone. You can had-write notes using the Apple Pencil. You can share notes with others and update them in tandem. You can dictate content into your notes. You can combine typed text, handwritten text, doodles and pictures – all in the same note. And now, with iOS14’s ‘Scribble’ functionality, you can write with the Apple Pencil and iOS will turn your text into typewritten words – with uncanny accuracy.
I think that the latest update, as part of iOS14, is what made it easier for me to make the switch. It looks and feeling amazing on my iPad Pro as I take notes in meetings, is lightning quick as I search for notes from my iPhone and everything synchs perfectly across iCloud, making it accessible on my iMac when I’m back at my desk.
I was a little worried that I’d miss some of Evernote’s key functions, such as adding tags and reminders to notes. But in all honesty, I’ve barely thought about Evernote since going all in on Notes. And this is coming from something of an Evernote evangelist.
Don’t get me wrong. Notes isn’t perfect. Sometimes, drawing shapes is a bit fiddly and sometimes, the names it gives quick handwritten notes are bizarre. But really, the relatively minor quibbles I have with it are well worth access to a simple, powerful and core app across Apple’s platforms.
Now watch as I tap my Apple Pencil on the iPad’s screen, waking my iPad and starting a new note from scratch. It’s the post-it note for 2020 and helping me avoid gathering unwieldy piles of paper.
I’m just sorry I wrestled with Evernote for so long before making the jump.