JotNot is an odd application; its usefulness depends almost entirely upon integration with your existing workflow. By itself, JotNot does little more than enhance images of text which you take with your iPhone’s camera by adjusting perspective, sharpness, and contrast to make letters more legible. If this sounds absurdly simple to you, think of it this way: JotNot aims to be a small digital copy machine in your pocket, essentially letting you scan receipts, business cards, and whiteboard doodles.
Developed by MobiTech 3000, JotNot is ridiculously simple to use—open the application and take a picture (or alternatively, select one in your iPhone’s photo library). Once you have an image, the app allows you to crop the photo by adjusting each corner independent of the others, then processes the image by increasing contrast ratio and adjusting perspective and alignment to match your appointed corners. The app’s integrated settings allow you to adjust contrast or convert images to black and white, as well as add a small time-stamp. While image quality is a far cry from PDF documents, text is generally clear after conversion, especially when converting to black and white. You can test these features for yourself with JotNot Lite, but only the paid version will allow you to save the image to your photo library.
JotNot by itself doesn’t provide OCR, e-mail, sharing options, or over-the-air printing, but other iPhone applications do. By saving images in your iPhone or iPod’s image library, JotNot turns things over to other applications you might already own, making it a worthwhile addition to a variety of workflows. Serious Evernote users in particular should get particular value from JotNot’s enhanced images—in my testing, Evernote’s OCR features were somewhat more accurate with the images from JotNot, thus making text searching even more useful.
In my testing, I found JotNot to perform best with black text on white or light backgrounds, and slightly worse with images of carbon copy receipts. However, image quality suffered significantly when converting images of light text on dark or boldly colored backgrounds, as well as on text with patterned backgrounds. Furthermore, processing an image is a permanent change—if a photo comes out badly, there is no way to undo and try processing with different settings. Since JotNot does not save original images, this can be problematic when using JotNot to take photos.
Unfortunately, I haven’t given AT&T enough money each month to qualify for a shiny iPhone 3GS upgrade, so while JotNot is handy for images with larger text, images of receipts or serial numbers with miniscule font sizes were often too blurred by the 3G’s camera to be useful. Those fortunate enough to have the new phones—and the improved cameras that come with them—will almost certainly have better results here, as well as speedier processing of images.
Priced at $3, JotNot does a decent job of making scraps of information more legible and easier to store for future reference, and can be a useful addition for iPhone users who already rely on other applications for OCR, e-mail, and image-sharing options. However, the wide variations in quality caused by either the 2-megapixel camera built into older iPhones or the application’s limited ability to convert certain documents keep it from being an essential productivity tool. Potential customers should certainly test the Lite version first to see if it meets their needs.
JotNot is compatible with any iPhone running the iPhone 2.x software update.
[Kate Dohe is a freelance writer and mobile UI designer based in San Diego. She holds a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Hawaii.]