I have reluctantly come to believe that Evernote is the best note-taking app for people who want to keep their notes synchronized among various devices. I use a Windows PC at work, a MacBook Pro for home and personal computing, an iPad Mini and an iPad Touch for mobile computing.
There are other options than Evernote that would work to join these four devices in a note network — a notework? Two that come to mind are:
I could use Simple Note on my mobile devices, which can sync through the Simple Note server with apps on my PC (Resophnote or Cinta Note), and MacBook (Tinderbox or Notational Velocity).
I could use one of various writing apps on my mobile devices (Drafts, iaWriter) that sync to Dropbox, then use whatever text editors I want on the two computers.
These are just two examples. There are numerous others. But I’m finding that Evernote works best for me because there’s an Evernote app for everyone of the devices I own, although this advantage is dulled some by one of my reservations about Evernote (see below), and the synchronization among them has proven to be quick and reliable. In addition, I generally like the note editor in Evernote, which is among the more powerful I’ve found in apps that work on iOS devices.
You probably noticed I used the term “reluctantly” earlier to describe my adoption of Evernote. I have a few fairly serious reservations about the app, including:
- I’m not comfortable trusting one app, one company with my notes. I could live with it just being the software on my devices; that survives a bankrupt company (look at all the people who still use ECCOPro 18 years after the application was abandoned by its company). But Evernote users also rely on the Evernote company for the synchronization of notes. Also, you need to have a premium account to have access to your notes locally on your mobile devices. And it is notoriously difficult to export notes from Evernote in formats usable on other applications.
- The user interface for Evernote is different on all my devices, so it is like using four different apps. Not a horrible problem, but not ideal either.
- While the basic service is free, to make Evernote your primary notes app, you really should purchase a subscription to the premium service (in part for the reason mentioned above). I’m not a fan of subscriptions for software. I don’t mind paying annually for upgrades, but I don’t like a system where if I stop paying the subscription, my service is cut.
- Reliance on tagging for organization. Tagging is very useful, but it is not an instinctive means of categorization to me, yet Evernote relies heavily on tagging for keeping information in order.
There’s also this: Evernote is very popular and I’m a contrary cuss. I don’t like using the same application that everyone else is using.
But the simple truth is that I’ve tried many, many apps on my iPad mini, and I’ve be disappointed with them to the extent that they make sharing notes across devices easy and reliable. Evernote works. It’s effective. So that will have to do for now. (Until Tinderbox for iOS comes out…)