CaptureNotes 2 for iPad
This might be the golden age of premium note-taking applications for the iPad. Apps like Pear Note and Notability give students, journalists, and writers extremely handy tools for recording and writing up lectures and interviews. CaptureNotes 2, a $5 app from G8R Software, joins the top tier of such offerings with some cool new moves of its own.
Like those rival apps, CaptureNotes 2 lets you make an audio recording of a lecture at the same time you’re typing—or writing, if you prefer a stylus—your notes. You can choose lined or unlined “paper” for your note-taking, and there are a variety of options for text size and fonts, as well as pen color and ink thickness for stylus use. The audio recorder is a bit more refined than in other note-taking apps: You can set the iPad’s microphone to record in high, medium, or low quality—high quality will eat up memory more quickly—and you can adjust the playback settings to fast forward, rewind, and “jump back” in the audio at increments of your choosing.
CaptureNotes 2 also allows you to import PDFs and make annotations on top of that document. When you’re done, you can save your notes to Dropbox or export them to an iTunes backup; you can also make PDFs of your notes to share via email.
All of this is very useful, but where CaptureNotes 2 distinguishes itself from the competition is in its ability to let you organize your notes. You can create notebooks for specific events, and “binders” that encompass a number of notebooks in the same class of events.
The centerpiece of the app, though, is its flag system. There are two basic types of flags—one oriented for business use, the other for education—but the app allows you to create your own custom flags that you drag from a right-hand sidebar and drop into your notes. This way, you can see what entries are particularly important; the color-coding lets you understand, at a glance, why they’re important. What’s more, the flags are searchable using the app’s “flag filter” feature. If you want to see every note you’ve marked with the mauve “research” flag, for example, you can look just at those.
The flags also work in conjunction with the audio features. If you flag a note while recording a lecture, that flag will include a time-stamp for that moment during the recording, letting you return to the audio and flesh out your notes later on. Pear Notes and Notability let you tap your notes, and the audio will start up at same moment you typed that entry. Audio playback in CaptureNotes is less handy—you have to manually search the audio—but still quite useful.
One problem with the flags in CaptureNotes: They don’t always respond quickly to your touch. Sometimes I tapped a flag two or three times before I was able to drag it into the notes. That makes for less-than-efficient note-taking.
The app suffers from a few other small weaknesses: There is a 5 MB limit on PDF document imports into CaptureNotes; if you want to deal with a particularly large document, you’ll have to import it in sections. And while CaptureNotes 2 is excellent overall, it lacks some of the versatility of the cheaper Notability app, which offers more options for paper style and document backup.
If you’re using CaptureNotes 2, then, you’re opting for organization over creativity. But there is nothing wrong with that. This is an excellent app that will help users bring order to their annotations.
[Joel Mathis is a freelance journalist and political columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. He lives in Philadelphia.]