Monday, August 30, 2010

Note Taker HD - v4.0

Note Taker HD is a simple iPad app for taking hand written notes. I was pleasantly surprised by the many improvements implemented in the last update. They completely redesign the UI, giving a more contemporary look and making a better use of the real estate. Also they revised some other aspects of the UI, improving usability and the discoverability of some of the functionalities. As a result I upgrade my global rating from 3 to 4 stars!

Rating: Price: $4.99

What's Good
Note Taker HD has two editing modes.
Edit1 allows to zoom in and out and write everywhere on the document. In recent updates, they have added a wrist guard option, which enables more comfortable hand-writing, by ignoring every input below the dotted line. I have seen a more elegant implementation of this feature in Penultimate, but this effectively serves its purpose.

This feature is off by default and can be enabled by tapping on the "Wrist Guard On" in the editing tool.

The other editing mode is Edit2, which presents a split screen, similar to FastFinga: full document above, and detail area below. In this mode Note Taker offers a brilliant auto-scroll feature. Auto-scroll allows you to write in the zoom area in a continuous stream without additional actions. It takes a little while to get used to this behavior but it can really speed up your hand writing.

You can watch this YouTube movie from the author, to fully understand this feature.

A third mode, View, allows to pan and zoom your document, without leaving unwanted marks on your note.

In recent updates Note Taker has added the ability of selecting among a set of colors, highlights and line widths. There are plenty of options to create simple but effective low-fidelity sketches.

You can add pages to the currently edited document by pressing the "+" button.

Multiple-pages documents display up and down navigation arrows on the top right corner to get to the previous and next pages.

If you tap on the Done button, Note Taker will navigate to a view which displays the list of pages. This is a split screen view with thumbnail documents list on the left and document previews on the right. Left-right arrows navigate across documents while up-down arrows navigate across pages of the selected document.

Tapping on the All button toggles between a list and a grid view. Also from this view you will be able to filter favorites or assigned tags.
If you tap on the Tools button on this view, you will get a number of tools to manage your pages.
If you tap and hold on any one of any the thumbnails, you will get a popup with a list of actions you can perform on the page.

What's Bad
There is not much left in the Bad section after the 4.0 update.
The biggest shortcoming is perhaps the appearance of the ink, which is not as good as other note taking apps (see Penultimate or FastFinga), but it has improved a little after the last update.
This is also true when writing in a large zoomed view, and then zooming out. It seems impossible to get any sort of decent looking lines.

There are 3 different Tools dialogs: from the page editing view, when tapping and holding on a thumbnail in the list view, and by tapping on the tools button. Most of the options are repeated across these 3 dialogs, and few of the options are quite obscure (as Staple and 12 Hours). All of this adds unnecessary complexity to the UI.

Note Taker doesn't support anything besides hand written notes; no pictures or text.
You can edit the default thumbnail associated with the page, unfortunately this is not a very intuitive process. I had to watch the author's video to discover that feature, contrary to my assumptions I had to resize the document to fit into the thumbnail and not the other way around.
I appreciate the feature but it requires more effort that what I am willing to make given the functionality.

Rating Breakdown

Note Taker HD on the iTune App Store
You can watch this YouTube video from the author to see this app in action.


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