Can the iPad replace a pen and paper?

Anthony Caruana
24 April, 2018
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For the last few years I’ve fought an ongoing battle. One one hand, there’s the reliability and familiarity of the trusty pen and paper notebook. And while I might fun out of paper or ink, I can usually scramble a pad and pen from wherever I am. And, if the worst should happen and I have to spend actual money, I can visit a supermarket or newsagent and I can grab soothing that will suffice for about the price of a cup of coffee.

The trouble with the pen and paper is that they are analog and a real pain to search when I’m looking for something. So, I now take most of my notes using either my iPhone, iPad or Mac. Of course, that means typing a lot of the time. Which is fine for text but a real pain if I want to scribble a quick diagram, mock up a design or draw a rough graph or Venn diagram (I’m a big fan of Venn diagrams).

Over the years I settled on Evernote despite its shortcomings. But the round-up we recently published piqued my interest and I’m wondering if I should investigate other options that take better advantage of my iPad Pro (I have the smaller 10.5-inch version) and the Apple Pencil. Truthfully, if the right app came along and the Pencil was supported by the smaller, iPad mini then I could be very tempted to buy one of those to replace the hard-cover notebook and pen I almost always stash in my bag.

For me, Evernote is actually the main word processor I use now. My MacBook Air doesn’t even have Microsoft Office or Pages as I can use cloud versions of those applications when I need them and, as someone who spends most of their time writing, all I need is a simple text editor with a few formatting options. So, Evernote with a paid Pro subscription (so I can sync across lots of devices and access their excellent OCR capability for scanned documents amongst other hand features) is my most used application.

Interestingly, the writer of that round-up, Leif Johnson, didn’t include Evernote in his round up, presumably because of its poor support for the Apple Pencil. And he was a big fan of Apple’s free Notes app and Notability.

Notablity’s all-round support for text and the Apple Pencil looks like an app I want to play with a little more – something I’ll do and report back on in a few weeks.

Is anyone else out there using a note-taking app on they iPad? What are you using and what do you like or dislike about it? I’d love to hear back so I can expand my horizons. With the App Store offering hundreds of options, I just can’t try them all. I’ll pull together some of the suggestions and comments and share them on the Macworld Australia website.

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