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App: Notes Plus

Developer: Viet Tran

Cost: $5.99

Many knitters and crocheters use their iPads to carry pdf patterns around. As a designer, I’m generally not taking a pattern with me, but developing a pattern while I’m out. I need to be able to take copious notes. Up until now, I’ve been using a regular pen and paper – I don’t enjoy typing large chunks of information on the iPad, and I like the tactile feel of handwriting over typing. When I started looking into note taking apps I was searching for something that would give me the feel of writing with a pen while allowing me to take advantage of the multitasking ability of the iPad. Now, I’m cheap when it comes to apps. Not frugal – cheap. I rarely buy apps and when I do they’re generally about 99 cents. During my research on note taking apps I found this review and decided to give Notes Plus a try. It was worth every single penny. In fact, he could charge twice as much and that would still be true.

What I love about it

  • Paper background choices – you can choose the “paper” that you write on. It has choices for white lined, yellow lined (like a legal pad), graph paper, and unlined white paper. I prefer to sketch on unlined paper, work schematics on graph paper, and write lists on regular lined paper. The app gives me the ability to do all three. The only problem is you are stuck with one paper type per notebook file: so if I want to do a sketch, schematic, and write out part of a pattern I have to do it in 3 separate files.
  • Exporting – Notes Plus offers several options to get your notes off your iPad. You can export your notebook to iTunes, Google docs, or e-mail it as a PDF. You can also save a page as a picture to your photo gallery.
  • Text Options – You can write with your finger or stylus or instead type with the keypad. Feel free to change the pen or text color, select text to move it around the screen, or choose the highlighter option. It seems to lack a copy and paste feature.
  • The Zoom Box – Ok, this one needs a little background. The iPad has a capacitive touch screen. That means that when you touch the screen, it’s not responding to the pressure from your finger, but to your finger’s ability to conduct electricity. So, lots of technical stuff aside, this means almost every stylus made for a capacitive screen is big. No nice fine tip points; no way to fit a normal amount of handwriting on an iPad screen. Enter the zoom box. The zoom box allows you to write with a chubby stylus (or chubby finger) and it shrinks your big text down to normal size. It means you can fit all the writing on your iPad screen that you normally would on a pad of paper. The zoom box in Notes Plus has buttons to make it easy to move around the page, allows you to adjust how much space it takes up on screen, and has a shadow to show you where the zoom box will move to next. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out the zoom box and get used to working with it. So far, I’ve used my finger to write in this app, but I did finally order a stylus yesterday.
  • Shape Recognition – I’m still having a bit of difficulty with this feature, but, basically, if you draw a shape (straight line, circle, etc) it can auto recognize it and create it for you, so that your somewhat off line is actually a nice, straight line.
  • Audio Recording – If you want, you can also record audio. The recording will be attached to the page you are on when you record it. Pretty cool, eh?

There really are a lot of things you can do inside app. It comes preloaded with a Quick Start read only notebook that shows you how to access the various features. According to all the online information I’ve seen the developer is supposed to be very good about promptly responding to customer feedback