Synotes for iPhone – what Apple’s Notes app should have looked like

Xavier Verhoeven
1 April, 2010
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I started using Synotes (App Store link) on my iPhone last week, after finding out that the Australian team behind it, Syncode, were all 16 years old or younger. To say that I was doing far less useful things at 16 is a serious understatement. Which makes this app all the more amazing.

After only a few minutes of use, it had quickly replaced the Notes application that comes on the iPhone. You see, Synotes is a lot like Notes, except for the fact that it looks good (goodbye ugly Marker Felt font!), and syncs your notes automatically with other devices via ‘the cloud’ – as much as I hate that term, it works incredibly well.

When you open Synotes for the first time, you’ll be asked to log in or create a Syncode ID (all you need is an email address and password). Once you’ve logged in the first time, you don’t have to do it again unless you want to log out for security.

Adding a note is a matter of pressing the + button, adding a heading (which is another excellent feature over Notes) and typing your content. You can assign an icon depending on what the note is about, access information about when you created and/or modified the note, and even open previous versions. The app copies a new note to the server every time you change it (they call this ‘Smart Sync’), just in case you want to go back to an old copy. It’s just a matter of clicking restore. You can even email the note easily within the application.

I never realised how good a note keeping system could be! And that was all before I checked out the web app.

You see, as well as iPhone/iPod touch, and soon the iPad, you can access your notes from any browser, just by logging in at synotes.syncode.com.au. In another beautiful interface (did I mention the designer is under 16?), you have the exact same features as the iPhone version, even email – which opens your default mail client and posts the note content in for you.

I actually think that when the iPad version arrives, Synotes could be the only tool I need to organise my writing ideas. I may even use it for writing full stories. Its automatic backup and version tracking sure beats most word processors I’ve used.

Synotes even has an API so that other developers can write applications to interact with the Synotes data. I’d like to see a Mac app as well as the web version, though given that Syncode has a Mac app for another of their apps, Syncopy (also very handy), I’d be surprised if there’s not one on the way.

My only hesitation with Synotes was that the data was being stored on their server. Following a story on news.com.au recently about a security hole in another iPhone app, Quip, the security of my notes data was on the top of my mind. Matthew Lesh from Syncode responded promptly to a query about the technology behind their system:

“Synotes uses 256-bit SSL technology to load, save and make any actions with your Synotes onto the cloud. This basically means that high-level security is being used to make sure that nobody can sniff your notes between the cloud and your devices,” writes Matthew.

Seems pretty good to me. It might not be the ideal option for top-secret data, but I feel comfortable that my brilliant upcoming story ideas are kept safe from prying eyes.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice

For $2.49, Synotes is hard to go past. It adds a lot of functionality over and above the standard Notes app, and it’s implemented perfectly. Plus, if you buy it, you’ll be supporting a few young guys from Australia who are making some amazing apps beyond their years.

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