Scribble This For Me: The Uncertain Future Of Note-Taking Apps

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Great options for every type of note and note-taking style have emerged in recent years. Word processors and drawing applications have become specialized tools for organizing notes (OneNote, Evernote, Joplin), tracking backlink relationships (Obsidian, Roam Research), aggregating research sources from the web and other documents (LiquidText, Flexcil), mind maps (LucidChart, MindMeister), whiteboards (Miro, Mural) and others.

Amidst the blurred boundaries of these categories, freeform note-taking tools combine the spontaneity and flexibility of pen and paper with digital capabilities that include selecting and moving sections of text, converting handwriting to text, and timing between devices. While the field has included various specialty devices (reMarkable) and paper-digital hybrids (Livescribe, Rocketbook), major tablet platforms that relegated keyboards to an accessory have proven to be fertile ground for freeform note taking.

But pencil input has faced a winding road across platforms. Apple brought pencil input across the iPad lineup and gave handwriting to text a big boost in iPadOS 14 with its scribble function, but does not support pen input on iPhone. On Android and Chrome OS tablets, most business-focused products from Lenovo, Samsung, and HP support pen input; several of these brands are compatible with the endorsement of Google Universal Stylus Initiative that seems scheduled for support in Google game back to the tablet marketthe pixel tablet. On the Android phone side, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra replaced the pioneering Galaxy Note while TCL recently joined Motorola as a provider of more affordable stylus-enabled smartphones, filling the void left by the end of LG’s Stylo lineup.

Then there’s Windows, to which Microsoft added pen support. years before smartphones appeared (much to the dislike of a startup offering a Windows competitor called PenPoint). It brought pen support to the Surface Pro before Apple introduced the Apple Pencil, but the rare use of Windows 2-in-1s as tablets, combined with Windows’ long-standing dearth of touch apps, has resulted in poor third-party support. Free-form note-taking tools beyond Microsoft’s OneNote. While OneNote is available on many platforms, other proprietary apps are limited to a particular ecosystem (Apple Notes) or even a brand (Samsung Notes). That’s also true for a number of third-party products, for example, GoodNotes and Notability are exclusive to iPad, while Squid and Inkredible are exclusive to Android. Still, if you’re looking for a freeform note-taking tool that quickly gets you into capture mode and works across platforms, there are several options.
shelving It recently arrived on Android after a start on iPad. Both versions support multiple notebook and page navigation via thumbnails or bookmarks, audio and photo import, highlighting, handwriting to text conversion, automatic shape recognition, and a range of selection options including bring to front/send to the background, resize and color selection. However, the younger version of Android lacks a “zoom box” feature to facilitate detailed work and a presentation mode.

MyScript, the company behind the Nebo app, has a note-taking legacy that dates back to Apple’s Newton. It still licenses its AI-based handwriting recognition to companies like Lenovo, Huawei, and Dell, which recently listed it on the conceptual stanza The meeting-focused whiteboard floated at CES 2021. So it’s no surprise that Nebo is focusing on the handwriting recognition experience, with a real-time preview of recognized text as you type. It can also recognize and convert diagrams and math formulas, though we’d like to see at least PowerPoint-level editing capabilities for the latter.
Priced at $10 or more for its full feature set, Nebo is one of the more expensive note-taking tools, but the price includes free use of the MyScript cloud service to enable note syncing using Dropbox and Google Drive. . And while you have to pay to use it on each platform, it’s one of the few that is fully compatible with Windows. It also offers a free viewer app for iOS and its iPad app can be used on Macs that support Apple’s silicon.

Plus: 3 Very Easy Ways to Take Notes on Your iPad Using an Apple Pencil

Earlier, I mentioned Microsoft’s OneNote, another note-taking app with deep roots. (He turns 20 next year.) OneNote’s OneDrive supports syncing across iPhone, iPad, Android, the web, and of course Windows, where it features tight integration with Surface Pen. OneNote’s hierarchical system of notebooks, sections, and mixed-media notes is a bit of a pain to take in if you’re used to tools like Evernote, but it can accommodate a wide range of organizational styles. OneNote makes it easy to access freeform capture mode and has a useful group of drawing tools. However, its handwriting to text feature only works on Windows.

Today, many note-taking apps adopt a page-centric build that is falling apart as we stop printing notes. Taking a cue from whiteboard apps, an alternative is the “infinite canvas” implemented in the more sketch-focused (and widely cross-platform) application of concepts. Also, as with many long-standing tools, note taking is facing increasing competition from AI. The great performance of transcription tools like Otter relieves the need to catch what is being said in the moment. More conferencing tools now create transcripts on the fly, while platform providers extend the reach of their live captioning capabilities to a broader range of audio and video throughout the computing experience.

For now, these are more aids rather than a substitute for note-taking, as only humans can create notes that intersperse their priorities and knowledge of information relationships beyond the scope of a particular piece of content. But if the AI ​​can create believable images of characters and scenes Based only on textual descriptions, you are ready to master the thought process named after a popular childhood drawing experience: connect the dots.

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