The Search for a Wholistic Note-taking Ecosystem & Android


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  1. mjschmidt

    mjschmidt Well-Known Member This Topic's Starter

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    This is not meant to be specifically about particular apps for Android, but the state of note-taking & Android in general (though I suppose I do hope to get some guidance in finding just the right app), so if a Mod feels this should be in the Apps forum instead, I understand.

    There are lots of note-taking apps in the Market, and I imagine we are all familiar with the most popular (NoteEverything, Ak Notepad, Springpad, Evernote, 3banana/Catch) and a search for "note" on AppBrain finds almost 3000 results.

    I myself have been looking for the "holy grail" of note taking & syncing between Android and my PC, and unless I've missed something we seem to not yet have one best note "ecosystem" for Android.

    To be clear, this is what I personally consider the perfect note ecosystem. Others may disagree.

    1. Create and Edit text notes on the Android device. (capturing photo notes, QR codes, and voice notes are not necessary, but certainly awesome-sauce on top).

    2. Arrange notes in separate "notebooks" (or folders) within the app.

    3. Easily sync the notes to my PC so that they remain in their separate notebooks (folders), and so that I can edit them easily on my PC either in a different program, or a program specific to the Android app. This syncing does not need to have a step in the "cloud" (I prefer keeping things on my PC anyway) but it wouldn't hurt.

    So far on my phone I've been using NoteEverything and Catch (formerly 3Banana).

    NoteEverything (NE) lets me organize my notes in folders and sub-folders (notebooks) but does not sync to the cloud or a PC. NE does let you import and export, but when you export it does not export the notes in their folders, but rather one entire batch of .txt files. Then you have to copy those files to your PC (I have been using my USB cable, and MS SyncToy). I have considered using the DropBox app to keep NE notes synced to my PC, but it still requires me to export and import manually. Not the same as syncing. (For the record, I am using the FREE version of NE).

    Catch/3Banana
    lets me sync my notes, but only to the web/cloud. There is no desktop client from Catch to sync to my PC. I want to be able to access those notes when offline (with my laptop). Also, Catch does not use folders/notebooks, but # hash tags instead (which i don't care for. Not the way my brain organizes).

    The official Evernote app in the Market does NOT allow offline access to notes, and there is a whole snafu where notes created using Rich text (or other formatting) elsewhere and then synced to EN can only be appended not edited. EN does have notebooks however, and i can sync it to my desktop EN client. EN does have a new Beta that was just released through their web site that allows offline notes, but I haven't tried it yet, and it has its own problems so far (as it's still in Beta).

    Springpad is more like Catch, you can sync it online, but has no desktop PC client for offline use.

    GDocs is an app that will let you open and edit your Google Docs files, but when I used it it seemed kind of buggy and hard to use well.

    Docs 2 Go is great if you want to pay for it (i have) but again the problem is syncing with the desktop. I suppose this could be done with DropBox. Not sure how well this satisfies my requirement of notebooks/folders, nor how "slick" an implementation this would be.

    Those are the only note apps I've tried so far, so it's entirely likely I've missed one that will do what I want, but the trick seems to be getting it on to the PC.

    Evernote would be the best option so far if it had offline notes on the phone. Perhaps when the new version is out of Beta that will be the best bet, however when it comes to a desktop client, while I do use EN at work (and a portable version on my USB stick) on my PC I use (and swear by, not at) MS OneNote.

    MS OneNote is amazing. I wish the Evernote desktop client had the options and tools of OneNote, but it doesn't. OneNote, can sync (or import/export) with the new online version of OneNote, but there is currently no Android app for OneNote.

    Argh.

    So there's the whole thing, and now I'd like to know what others think of the Android/PC Note-taking ecosystem. Is a unified system with all the bells and whistles possible? Does it already exist and I've missed it?

    What are your methods for keeping notes synced not just with the cloud, but to your PC?
     

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  2. HoochieCoo

    HoochieCoo Well-Known Member

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    Man... I wish I had a good system.

    I have been playing with Springpad. I like the way it understands Notes vs Products vs Bookmarks vs etc...

    What I don't like is that there isn't feature parity between the Android app and the Web app. For example, from the desktop browser I can add a bookmark to Springpad, and assign the tags and notebook then. From Android, I don't have that option... it just adds the Bookmark, requiring me to pull up the app, find that note, and add make the changes. Kind of tedious. Also, from the desktop, I can attach any item to a note. From the Android app, you can only attach a Note.

    I've been down on Evernote ever since I tried it on my BB and it stunk (from a BB client perspective). On the Android, in addition to the rich text issue, I can't see how to create a new notebook. Evernote is more like a place to dump my notes... Roughly equivalent to just dumping a bunch of documents in a folder (but in the cloud instead). I prefer the direction Springpad is going with being able to attach other items to notes, and the notes themselves having additional data associated with them.

    I wish any of the ones I tried allowed me to link notes. i.e., Some notes are related... more specifically than just having the same tag. For example, if I have a Christmas list in one note, I want to be able to link a bookmark to a product to that list (if would be even cooler if I could link it inline with the list).

    Offline from my desktop is not a requirement for me. If I am truly offline, I can just switch to my mobile... assuming the mobile app is just as functional.

    I know people who swear by OneNote... but like you said, it's not on Android.
     
  3. etuoyo

    etuoyo New Member

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    I just got my first android device (Samsung Galaxy Tab) last week having previously been using an N900. The thing I use my device for most of all is for taking notes. I use headings in all my notes and so what I was doing on the N900 was for each heading in a note I would bold the text. If it was a major heading I would also make the text bigger and if it was a sub-heading it would just be the same size as the non-bolded text.

    I have installed and tried over 10 note apps and have not been able to find a simple one that allows me to bold text. This seems such a basic feature I am quite suprised it seems to be totally missing from the android eco system.

    I can use think office which works great but it does not allow me to search for texts in notes. It can only search the names of the documents. So it does not quite work for me. The note apps have this feature but as I have said I can't find any that allows me to bold text.

    So is there an app that has this feature that I have missed? Or do I have to go back to using my N900 (which would be a shame as I quite love the keyboard on the Tab).
     
  4. aaphid

    aaphid New Member

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  5. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Well-Known Member

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    I use Google Calendar as a notepad, to sync to the PC. Also have a link to Google tasks.

    However, most of the time I use ColorNote, which does not sync to the PC. It works fine and backs up to SD card.
     

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