capsule review

Notes Plus for iPad

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Notes Plus

Amid the growing crowd of great iPad note-taking apps in the App Store, Notes Plus distinguishes itself by appearing to give more thought than most about how a stylus-wielding iPad owner might actually write and draw on a touchscreen tablet.

The $8 offering from seller Viet Tran offers many of the same features as rival apps: You can choose whether to type in your notes or write them using a finger or stylus. You have a choice of paper styles, ink color, pen widths, or typeset font. There’s a wrist guard that lets you rest your hand on part of the screen while drawing or writing on another portion. And there’s also a feature that lets you record audio while note-taking—though, unlike Pear Note or Notability, the recordings aren’t time-indexed to your notes. That means you might have to search a little harder for the precise wording of the quote you want to replicate.

The Right Note: Notes Plus offers plenty of features for an iPad note-taker, such as the ability to type in or write text; change paper, pen, and font styles; and activate a wrist guard to create an area where you can rest your hand on the screen while taking notes.

The features outlined above are standard stuff for note takers. Where Notes Plus distinguishes itself is letting users fine-tune how they write with their finger—and how they erase what they’ve written. You can adjust the app’s settings to respond to your gestures: the “deletion gesture” lets you erase handwriting with a vigorous horizontal back-and-forth of your finger, while the “scrubbing gesture” setting does the same with a “tight, vertical zigzag.” If you’re drawing in the notes, a “closeup box” lets you magnify portions of the note page to do detail work.

Another nifty feature is shape detection. Draw a circle, and Notes Plus offers you several options—you can replace your drawn shape with a perfect computer-generated circle of roughly the same size. Or you can copy the text and handwriting within the circle. Double-tap the screen within that circle, and the app will let you insert typewritten text in that space.

Notes Plus lets you import PDFs and images from your iPad’s clipboard, photo library, or directly from your camera—they can be inserted into notes or drawn upon directly. And entire notebooks or individual note pages can be exported to Google Docs and Dropbox sharing services; users can even adjust settings so that documents are automatically saved in Dropbox.

Finally, Notes Plus offers users the option of password-protecting their documents. That’s a great and welcome security feature.

At $8, the app is priced on the high end when compared to competing apps. Take Notability. While Notes Plus offers more ways to fine-tune your handwriting, Notability offers more paper varieties and possibilities. From a feature standpoint, comparing the two apps will probably result in a draw. But Notability costs $1 to Notes Plus’s $8 price tag. Notes Plus is not going to win many price comparisons with rival apps.

All that said, Notes Plus is a fine note-taking app that’s worthy of your attention. Whether it’s worth the $8 asking pricing is going to depend on how much you value its feature set.

[Joel Mathis is a writer in Philadelphia.]

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Notes Plus

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