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Top 7 Note taking apps for iPad

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  • 10 min read
A person's hand holding a digital pencil against an iPad.

While the old pen and paper are a good option, the flexibility and features that come with note-taking apps are worth exploring. For those who use your iPad for studying, research, and journaling, this article lists 7 different note-taking apps with their features and drawbacks, and other important details like pricing.

Apple devices come with a default app called Notes. Maybe not the most diverse in terms of features, but it has a simple interface that allows you to jot down quick details without opening the app. PDFs can be imported into the app to annotate the document or to take snippets from it to add to your notes.

But for additional features like handwriting-to-text conversion and template customization, below are seven other note-taking apps for iPad.


Notability

  • Price – Free with limited access, In-app purchases – Notability Plus monthly subscription for $4.99, Annual subscription for $14.99
  • Compatibility – iPad, iPhone, Mac, iPod touch.
  • Reviews 4.7/5 with 37.5K ratings.
Screenshot of app store | Source – Notability

Ginger Labs created Notability, an app for handwriting and voice note features. Users can use the app for text-based note-taking, handwritten notes, sketches and diagrams, export documents, annotate them and share their work using presentation mode. Notability ink lets users create diagrams and sketches with a vector-based digital pencil. Users can take notes and sketch using the Apple Pencil and Logitech Crayon.

Like Pinterest, Notability Gallery is a visual search engine for artworks and notes created and published by other Notability users.

Features

  • Handwritten notes – The ink options allow for a handwritten feel while note-taking, especially when paired with a digital pencil like the Apple Pencil.
  • Handwriting recognition – Powered by MyScript, you can search through your handwritten notes and convert your handwriting into text.
  • Audio recording and syncing – The Note Replay function records audio to accompany your notes. When you playback your audio, the corresponding notes taken down during the recording are highlighted as part of its audio syncing feature.
  • Math conversion – Handwritten math equations can be converted into images to add to your notes.
  • Split-screen interface – With the multi-note feature, you can work on 2 notes simultaneously.

Drawbacks

Notability’s organisation capabilities are limited to subjects and dividers and cannot be organised via nested folders (folders within a folder).

Download Notability here

Also read: Fix: Apple Pencil 2 not working but connected


GoodNotes

  • Price – Free trial with limited access, Yearly subscription for $9.99, One-time purchase for $29.99
  • Compatibility – iOS, Mac, Windows, Android
  • Ratings – 4.8/5 with 88.4K ratings.
Screenshot of app store | Source – GoodNotes

Bagging the iPad app of the year award in 2022, GoodNotes is a notetaking app that enables users to take handwritten notes on a digital interface. GoodNotes was designed by Time Based Technology Limited in 2011 and has added many new features since. The audio recording feature with sync capabilities and the latest audio transcript function are a few examples.

Notable Features

  • Multi-media notes – Users can combine handwritten notes, typed text, diagrams, sketches, images and audio recordings within their notes.
  • AI-powered note-taking – The app will spellcheck and provide prompts for your handwritten and text-based notes.
  • Multiple templates – The app has options like dot grid paper, music paper, planner templates, and more.
  • Collaboration – You can share a link to your notes with your classmates, teachers or colleagues. They can long press on any note and add comments.
  • Flashcards and study prep – You can create Study Sets or flashcards using your notes. Students can use the interactive SAT exam prep material and AI math assistance for their study sessions.

Drawbacks

  • There is an initial learning curve to the app and its interface.
  • Unlike Notability, no dotted or dashed line options are available on the app.
Download GoodNotes here

Nebo

  • Price – Free, In-app purchase – Nebo Pro for $5.99, Nebo Full Version for $8.99
  • Compatibility – iPad, Mac, Windows
  • Reviews – 4.7/5 with 26.5K ratings
Screenshot of app store | Source – Nebo

Created by MyScipt, the Nebo note-taking app for the iPad comes with most features included for Notability and GoodNotes. It includes handwriting recognition, handwriting-to-text conversion and mixed-media notes. Documents like PDFs can be exported and annotated in the app.

Features

  • Handwriting recognition and conversion – Nebo can recognise handwritten text in 66 languages. Add custom words and abbreviations to your dictionary to improve Nebo’s handwriting recognition.
  • Combination of handwriting and text – Much like Notability and GoodNotes, Nebo allows users to create multi-media content like handwritten text, typed text, diagrams, sketches, etc., on the same canvas.
  • Editable diagrams – You can draw freehand diagrams like flowcharts and convert them into typed text. The diagrams stay editable in PowerPoint.
  • Expandable Canvas – The workspace is a freeform canvas that expands with your notes.
  • Customisable background – Nebo offers colour and background options for users.

Drawbacks

  • The app has limited capabilities with templates. There are 2 options available: Nebo Note pages and Nebo Document pages. The rest depends on the way the user chooses to design the pages.
  • If you’re looking for a pre-defined structure for organised note-taking, Nebo might not be the best suited for your needs.
Download Nebo here

Noteshelf

  • Price – Free, One-time purchase for $7.99
  • Compatibility – iOS, Android, Windows
  • Reviews – 3.6/5 with 7 ratings
Screenshot of app store | Source – Noteshelf

Created by Fluidtouch in 2010, with Noteshelf, users can take notes and organise them efficiently. You can create categories, and within those categories, you can create multiple notebooks with customised covers to find and access your notes easily.

Features

  • AI assistant – Available in its Beta version, the AI assistant can generate handwritten notes based on prompts, summarise, translate, and simplify complex text.
  • Multiple templates – Noteshelf has over 200 templates to choose from.
  • Custom toolbar – You can fully customise your toolbar by adding and arranging the tools per your needs.
  • Focus mode – Focus mode can be activated with a tap to hide your toolbar for a distraction-free note-taking experience.
  • Stock image integration – The app has a library of images from Unsplash and Pixabay from which you can add images to enhance your notes.

Drawbacks

  • The free version of the app comes with limited capabilities. You will likely need to buy the app to use it for your regular note-taking needs.
  • Each note and imported document are treated as a separate notebook, which can be tedious to organise, especially if you want to merge or migrate notes.
Download Noteshelf here

Also read: Accessibility features designed for people with disabilities


Penbook

  • Price – Free, In-app purchase – Premium ranging from $4.99 to $29.99, Premium Lifetime for $49.99
  • Compatibility – iPad, iPhone, Mac, iPod touch
  • Reviews – 4.6/5 with 27.4K ratings.
Screenshot of app store | Source – Penboook

Penbook is an app developed by User Camp that can be especially useful for journaling, scheduling, and planning. It has a feature they call the Live Paper, which automatically tracks the date and time on your workspace.

Features

  • Live Paper – Ideal for diary entries, habit trackers and planners, the Live Paper feature helps users track date and time while taking notes.
  • Multiple templates – The app has over 400 stationary/template options.
  • Customisation – You can customise your notebook with colours, backgrounds and themes.

Drawbacks

  • Penbook is missing some key features that are available in other competing apps.
  • It doesn’t convert handwriting to text.
  • Images can be added to your notes, but the app cannot crop them.
Download Penbook here

Evernote

  • Price – Free, In-app purchase – Annual personal plan billed monthly for $10.83
  • Compatibility – iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Windows
  • Reviews – 4.4/5 with 4.1K ratings
Screenshot of app store | Source – Evernote

Evernote has been a popular note-taking and task-management app for a while. Created by Evernote Corporation, the app has scanning and OCR (optical character recognition) technology and can search for words from hand-written notes and typed text.

Features

  • To-Do lists – You can create to-do lists to manage your tasks inside of your notes and check them off as you finish each task. The app allows you to set due dates, recurrences and reminders to keep track of your tasks.
  • Connect to Google Calendar – By connecting Evernote to your Google calendar, you can link notes to calendar events.
  • Scan documents – You can scan documents and handwritten notes with the app.
  • Web-clipper – A browser extension that can be installed to help you take clippings from webpages and save them directly to the Evernote app.
  • Cross-platform compatibility – You can use the Evernote app on almost all operating systems.

Drawbacks

The storage capabilities are limited for the free plan with a 25MB note limit.

Download Evernote here

ZoomNotes    

  • Price – $9.99
  • Compatibility – iPad, iPhone, Mac, iPod touch
  • Reviews – 4.7/5 with 97 ratings
Screenshot of app store | Source – ZoomNotes

ZoomNotes is a note-taking, sketching and presenting app designed by Deliverance Software Limited. True to its name, it comes with a large zoom range and allows users to zoom into the screen while retaining a zoomed-out window of the complete document. With this feature, users can see the impact of their zoomed-in edits on the overall document.

Features

  • Magnification window – This feature enables users to view the zoomed-out version of the document in a window while they are zoomed into a particular part of the document.
  • Sub-pages – You can add sticky notes or import PDFs or other notes as sub-pages within your current notes.
  • Layers – Similar to graphic design apps, ZoomNotes lets you control what is and isn’t visible on your page with Layers.
  • Image editing – The app has tools like crop, mask, scan-correct and deform.  
  • Documents pinned on a map – ZoomNotes allows georeferencing documents, which means you can pin a document to a certain location on the map if it is relevant to that place.

Drawbacks

  • ZoomNotes allows handwritten notes but cannot turn it into text.
  • The tool cannot search through your handwritten notes, which means it can be difficult to locate a particular section if it is handwritten in the app.
Download ZoomNotes here

Also read: Top 10 note taking apps for Android

Vanashree Chowdhury

Vanashree Chowdhury

Being a tech enthusiast, Vanashree enjoys writing about technology and cybersecurity. She is a designer and marketer by profession and is deeply passionate about working on campaigns for social issues. You can contact her here: vanashreec@protonmail.com

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