Why are there so many great note taking apps

Originally posted on 14/05/2015

"You know what, I type a lot. Well I write but I don't write, I type. I take a bunch of notes, I write down anything from ideas to articles, and a whole semester worth of lecture notes a couple of days before an exam. Which I should be doing right now. Yay procrastinating. Back to note taking. As readers of this blog may know, I love apps. I like services that look good, perform well and make your life easy. I make sure I have a great app for everything, from my ToDo and Calendar apps to fucking calculator apps, ffs what's wrong with me. By far an app that I use the most is notes.

After Apple's WWDC thing, I really liked what they were doing with Notes.app, the built in note taking app on Mac and iOS. I never really thought about it as an app I would use, from being an app that was pretty bad and lacking so many functions, to the fact that I don't use an iPhone so I wouldn't be able to sync. Which was the only good thing about the app. I wasn't too worried anyway, because who really cares. There are so many great note taking apps.


I personally use Evernote. It's hailed as the best app to take notes out there, and it kinda is. It syncs across my phone, iPad, Macbook and PC, and the web interface is perfect for when I'm using the computers in the lab at uni and need to access my notes. You can format text, add bullet points and checklists, reminders, highlighting, image adding, really quick web clippings and if you pay for pro you get pdf annotating, turning your notes into presentations and way more.

But as much as I love it and rely on it, I feel like there's something missing. First and foremost, Markdown. As someone who thinks while - instead of before - he writes, markdown helps be style on the fly. Having to slow down to bold and italicise my text and instantiate bullet points, it gets on my nerves and slows my typing down when I'm making notes. Also, this is pretty much just me being a ""winging slut"" as my roommate would say, but it looks a bit too refined. I like that raw, modern, startup-like look. There's just something about evernote. I can't put my finger on it.


Hands down the best looking app I've ever used. I used it for some of my assignment work last year and it blew me away. Not only did it look friggin dope, it also had the best sharing and exporting features I had ever seen on an app and oh my God the power user features are just top notch. Seriously, check this out.

It's paid though, keep that in mind.


Sometimes you want to write something really quick, like a quick simple text editor, but also preview your Markdown while you write. That's where Mou comes into play, it has a side by side editor / preview layout and I love it. I use it mostly for when I'm writing out something quick that I don't really need saved, like a quick blogpost or an email. I used it extensively before we implemented Markdown support on Tech in Asia, because Mou's ""Copy as HTML"" was honestly the best thing ever and saved so much time. It essentially let me copy my markdown as HTML so I could paste it into WordPress' text view thing and have my post perfectly styled. Yay!


Think of Apple's notes app, but better and cross platform. It was quick, clean, well designed and probably the best app for quick and simple notes, no pun intended. Too bad I had no use for it, because I started using Evernote for my smaller notes as well, just so I could limit the number of apps I use.


I had mentioned that I use Evernote for everything note related. However, a majority of my writing involves writing articles, be it articles I may want to write for Rabelais, The Jakarta Globe, Medium or elsewhere. A reason I don't use Evernote for my articles is I need something that doesn't format my text, I've started using Draft for that. Let me preface this by saying that there are many apps I would much rather use for this, such as Ulysses. Alas, I need sync. I work on a laptop primarily now, while I'm at uni, but when I'm at home I mostly work on my PC running Windows (soon it'll run Arch though) and I need my articles to sync across. I used to use Google Docs for this, but then I found draft, which is basically Google Docs with Markdown support and previews, and since I started using it it has amassed a feature list so large it's insane. You guys know I love native apps, but there are times when you need a web app, and this was the best one available.


When you need a phone app that supports markdown for the quick blogpost you write while on the toilet at the mall and at the time was the only one available on Android. Since that one time I needed it, iA Writer came out with an Android app and mvilla, the developer that made my favourite twitter app made a notes app as well.


I actually haven't had the chance to try out this app, but I heard them mention it on the Accidental Tech Podcast and my God it looks like a power user's dream. To bad I'm too deep into Evernote, and it doesn't have sync. :(


John Gruber, who is famed for being a major Apple Fanboy and someone a lot of Android fans despise, made this app called Vesper. It's iPhone only, so in almost every occasion I wouldn't give a shit. However, Gruber is the guy that created Markdown. So if he created the standard, the app he used must be pretty good right?

There are so many more apps, but these are the ones that were off the top of my head. This was supposed to be a quick post for my 5 minute study break, but it's been 45 minutes. I better start studying. Ttyl readers. "

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