Your best ideas don’t necessarily come while sitting at your computer ready to type. They might come while playing sport, taking a shower, lying in bed, or enjoying dinner at a restaurant. So you always need something to write on to capture the ideas before they float away.
For about twenty years I carried a little spiral notepad and pen just for this purpose. When iPods became popular, I named my notepad my “iPad”. Then Apple stole my brand name! Although they were low-tech, my iPads were extremely efficient and functional.
In an interesting parody, you can now get a real notepad that looks like an iPad or iPhone! (Click on the image below for more information.)
However, I’ve sold out to Apple and use an iPhone, so it makes sense to keep my notes on the iPhone. But the native notepad app is not so useful because it doesn’t sync with my computer. I’d like to jot down some ideas and then have them available on my PC without any re-typing. The native iPhone notepad app does sync with MS Outlook but who wants to use that when there is gmail?
I’ve tried about half-a-dozen note taking apps with syncing capabilities and have deleted most of them for being too slow or because the syncing doesn’t work properly. However, there are two that I think are worth mentioning.
Evernote is a feature-rich application that allows notes, pictures, audio and webpages to be saved, annotated and synced online. To access the information on another device, you can go to the website, or install an application on your computer. It works well and is very popular, but the rich set of features mean that it is sometimes a little slower than I would like. Also, if I use some rich text features such as bulleted lists on my computer, the note on my iPhone can be read but not edited as the iPhone app doesn’t allow anything fancy. That can be annoying. I don’t care about the rich text features, but I do need to be able to edit my notes on any device. Still, if you want all the features that Evernote provides, it is a nice tool.
Simplenote is what I am using. It has very few features — it doesn’t store pictures, audio files or bits of webpages — and there are no applications to install on any computer. It is just a very simple and fast note taking app. It has tagging and searching facilities so it is easy to find the note you are after, and it allows notes to be emailed. All notes are synced with the simplenote website where you can see them on your own account. Another nice feature is the ability to roll back to previous versions of a note. And there is a chrome extension giving you easy access to the notes within Chrome.