iPad note taking apps, for college lectures

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by SoldOnApple, May 15, 2011.

  1. SoldOnApple

    SoldOnApple iPF Novice

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    Ok, so I am a good 9 weeks into my first year of college. I've got my MB and iPad 2. I had previously been keeping lecture notes on pen and paper, but I ended up with this huge stack of hand written notes on slightly crumpled paper which I don't know what to do with, I can barely read my own hand writing even when I do it carefully.

    So then I thought, well this is why I bought an iPad, so i should take notes on it. We get lecture slides as PDF, so I'll write annotations on top of the slides themselves and just use the slides for review! Perfect! So I bought Goodreader (then realised I am now five dollars short of rent, so rushed to the bank to deposite five dollars from my piggy bank), and I have been enjoying it. I put my slides on Dropbox, sync them to Goodreader and add annotations. It's perfect, well it is ideal. I even bought a pogo sketch, although the nub is so squishy that it is pretty annoying.

    But, for chemistry the slides are not provided, just a pdf full of an overview of what we should have learned that lecture. So it looks like I need to create my own notes for review. I don't want to deal with that huge stack of notes I hand wrote, so I want to recreate the notes on iPad (it'll give me a chance to reorganize them too). So how should I go about doing this?

    Ideally I want to be able to create notes in Dropbox using iPad and review them in Goodreader. I thought about creating blank PDF and using Goodreader to make notes, but Goodreader seems to be good at annotations, but not good at creating notes from scratch. I need to be able to use my pogo to draw chemical structures and stuff, but also type important things to remember (I'm fairly forgetful, I constantly find myself needing to look back to remember the steps needed to do what I'm doing).

    I'm sorry this is so long, I'm just a little stressed. I don't know what to do and I can't afford to buy lots of apps to try them out, but I can afford to buy ones that I will use throughout my degree. Of course my goal should be to know it all well enough that I eventually don't need the notes at all, but until I reach that point I need to make and use notes and I need to be able to quickly review them, preferably in Goodreader with the rest of my slide notes and textbooks (and have them sync on my MacBook too using Dropbox or Sugarsync, so I can review my notes on the MB while having a textbook open on the iPad).

    I'm really sort of panicking because the weeks keep marching on and I keep falling more and more behind and my pen and paper note mess is not helping. Thanks for reading guys. I have been a long time lurker and I know this is a common request, but I didn't feel any of them matched my special needs I guess.

    EDIT: I guess another big ability would be an easy way to edit, condense and refine the notes. Like week 1 when I am struggling to learn about electronegativity, I might need to write a lot of notes on it. But by week 7 a lot of week 1 stuff is in my long term memory, but I still will need to be able to quickly flick back to read the few concepts I haven't understood yet. So if I could simplify the notes as I went on, so instead of four pages on electronegativity, simplify it to one page that at a glance will remind me of the key concepts. Like for weeks I struggled with the concept that losing an electron makes gives an atom a positive charge (how can losing something mean its positive?!). So I found myself wishing I could have a page that I could flick to that had those concepts.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  2. Tim SPRACKLEN

    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    Notes Plus is probably your best choice. It's highly recommended by Members. You can hand write on it - hand draw or type. It also has audio recording, so you can record the lecture too! The Developer is totally committed to this app, so he's constantly incorporating new features. Have a look at it in the App Store and then go to the Developer Web Site where there are some videos of the app in use.

    I'm sure other members will recommend both this and other apps. I use Notes Plus all the time - the other recommendation seems to be EverNote, though I have no personal experience of this.

    Hope it works out for you and don't hesitate to get back if you need any further help

    Tim
     
  3. SoldOnApple

    SoldOnApple iPF Novice

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    Notes Plus, I will check it out.

    I should also mention that the recording of lectures is not really of vital importance. My college video records them all. I actually write my notes from the recordings usually, as I can pause them and think about it, read up on something I don't understand etc. EDIT: Oh I see, it lets you ad a recording to each page. That could be useful.

    OH!, I should also mention that I've tried to figure out Evernote, but I can't figure it out. I don't understand why its so popular. I'm also very scared of the small 60mb monthly limit, my collection of PDF slides from just 9 weeks alone is a couple of hundred MB.

    It did make me realise that superscript and subscript with either the virtual keyboard of the blutooth Mac keyboard would probably be a dealmaker.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  4. madam_octa

    madam_octa iPF Novice

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    You can also check an app called Muji Notebook, it looks really slick.
     
  5. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I personally second notes plus. It's replaced my large note book come sketch pad. I'd advise a decent stylus with it, as quick sketching and note taking is so much more natural and easier with a stylus.

    My iPad has notes plus always open and ready for dictation from when the phone goes. I love it.
     
  6. SoldOnApple

    SoldOnApple iPF Novice

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    Slick does sound good. I wish I could try these apps :3

    Notes Plus sounds like it is recommended here though. Exporting to PDF would be handy, at least, even if it doesn't work with Dropbox. Six dollars is a lot, but if it is the app I need then it is cheap, compared to my need. Looking at the webpage, it does sound like he is committed to the app, but it also sounds like most of his time is committed to bug fixes, rather than improvements. Which is a good thing, to be sure. It also probably means he takes bug requests/refinement requests more seriously.

    How quick can you guys use it? And how good are the drawing features, can you quickly jot down a chemical structure like the attached image, zooming in to keep finer details so it doesn't take up much more room than a pen and paper drawing would? From the videos it looks good, being able to swipe through lines and stuff, but a little clunky. An infinite canvas would be brilliant, for when structures get too big and out of control.
     

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  7. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a very fast and intuitive way of note taking.

    It does do shapes and lines but, to do that chemical structure you posted as an example, you'd be better off quickly freehand sketching it.

    Even though you can do straight lines and printed text, notes us is soooo geared to freehand writing and sketching. You can freehand write and sketch just as fast as if you're writing and sketching in a real note pad with a pencil

    The page size to line thickness ratio is the same as a real npte pad, but all this is editable in the settings too, together with choice of paper.

    You can easily import imagery, and export your pages individually out via email or generally as PDF's.

    But as mentioned, look at it as a freehand note pad, where sketching and writing is super fast when done freehand. As fast as real life.

    And oh yeah, I personally strongly recommend a stylus too!
     
  8. SoldOnApple

    SoldOnApple iPF Novice

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    Hmm, which stylus do you recommend? I paid like $20 for the pogo sketch and it really is quite useless. I'd like one where the nub is stiffer, and comes down to a point. The pogo sketches nub flops around, and although it writes OK, it's easy for the nub to flop completely to one side so you are pressing on the screen with the plastic nub holder.
     
  9. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There are no 'pointed' nibbed styluses on the market.

    I use a standard boxwave. Marvellous it be. Saying that, being an artist by trade, I have about 6 or 7 styluseses on the go at once :)
     
  10. SoldOnApple

    SoldOnApple iPF Novice

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    Hmm, I've been thinking some more. I picked up an iTunes gift card to buy some apps (I don't have enough money on the debit card :3), but the more I think about my future chemistry and biochemistry classes, the more I am realising that I might not be able to take all of my notes on the iPad after all. Writing a chemical structure from left to right, I might not be able to do it quick enough on the iPad and even if I could, I would run out of room on the virtual page. So I should probably factor in that I may not to write on paper and scan that into Dropbox, which means I need to be able to somehow mix the scanned notes with the digital notes, even if they were just in the sample folder on dropbox together.

    I've also seen on the App Store that Penultimate has many more reviews than Note Plus, but looking online I can't really find information about either Notes Plus or Penultimate. There seem to be LOADS of note taking apps that people talk about online, it's making it very hard to choose :( I can't imagine that it is possible to easily edit a scanned pen and paper note either (if only the iPad screen was higher resolution and allowed for a finer stylus!).

    So keeping that in mind, can anyone recommend, finally, which app I should go for? I really hate decisions as well as the learning curve for these apps, which if it turns out are unsuitable means money and time was wasted.

    I actually can see myself writing down chemical structures and equations on the iPad, but I can't imagine the pages being big enough for a carbon structure that just keeps on going, or the ability to quickly and accurately move around the structure to add notes and more bonds, and arrows and stuff (I'm imagining that I would need to quickly be able to move the page around, zoom in and out etc, to fit those finer details).
     
  11. owsc2010

    owsc2010 iPF Novice

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  12. kingnba6

    kingnba6 iPad Junkie

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    well the main reason i joined the forum was to find a good not taking app. i have seen and read a lot about different apps. right now i use documents to go. i like documents to go because it is able to sync with online accounts such as google docs and dropbox. i also like that i can automatically sync complete folders from my computer to the ipad.
    after reading this, i see that people like note plus. i am going to download note plus and i am also going to look into Student pad app.

    anybody have suggestions ?
     
  13. mmicro

    mmicro iPF Noob

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    I'm using and recommending Beleshka.
    There is also a lite version on app store.

    With shape recognition and stylus support it gives you full speed when you take notes on some lectures..

    Notes can be exported to PDF and uploaded on Dropbox or sent by mail any time..


    Best,
     
  14. sjleworthy

    sjleworthy Super Moderator Staff Member

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    i've started using Bamboo for my notes these days. the most simple note taker around, but unbeatable drawing/writing action.
     
  15. Hasty

    Hasty iPad Ninja

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    Don't be scared of the Evernote limit as it's monthly.
    I use it all the time and rarely use half my allowance.
    Notes need very little storage and if you use the tagging system it becomes very easy to find stuff. Best of all it's free......

    Good luck with your studies.
     

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