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  • May 6, 2013


Choosing an Android Notepad Application

One of the core features of a smartphone for many people is the ability to take notes on the fly. Android phones often don’t come with a notepad application preinstalled but there are a large number of them available for download from the Android Market. These have functionality ranging from simple to sophisticated. Some popular examples are described below. All of the applications described here are available for free, although some have paid upgrades available.

The features available in the Android notepads vary widely. The relative importance of each feature is based on personal preference. Some features to look for include

Import and export: Can you easily get your notes out of the application and can you easily load notes from other sources? This is important when changing phones or even just notepad applications.

Synchronization: Does the application provide a way to synchronize your notes with a website or your local computer? This is useful for backups and for using your notes on other devices such as your main computer.

Search and organization: Some notepads offer integration with Android’s built-in search feature while others provide search only within the application itself. In some cases organization is enhanced by the ability to add tags to notes or separate them into folders. Both methods can be used to show only the notes you are interested in at the moment. If your phone supports GPS then geolocation tagging can be another useful way of organizing notes.

Sharing: Android provides a built-in Share menu which an application can use in order to exchange data with other applications. Depending on the notepad’s level of integration with the Share menu, a user may be able to use this feature to import or export data. Two examples of this are saving text from a web page into a note and sharing the contents of a note through email, Twitter, or Facebook.

All of the applications discussed below support these features at least to some extent.

Catch, from the company of the same name, allows entering text notes which can optionally have images attached. The images can either chosen from the gallery or taken at the moment with the phone’s camera. The application provides quick access to add notes with a home screen widget as well as capturing notes from other applications with Android’s Share feature. It is integrated with Android’s built-in search for full text search. Notes can be organized by tags and geolocation. Individual notes can be pinned to the phone’s home page for easy access to frequently used information. Synchronization can be done either to Catch’s website or to a Google Docs account. Notes can be exported to the SD card but there isn’t an import function.

AK Notepad is another offering from Catch which provides some of the same features as 3banana Notes. AK Notepad allows synchronization to the Catch website but not to Google Docs. Another major difference between the two is that AK Notepad’s integrated search option provides for searching the title of a note but not the full text. Notes can easily be imported and exported using the SD card.

Note Everything, from SoftXperience, comes in a free version and a pro version which is available for a nominal charge. A few things set this note-taking application apart from the others. First, in addition to text and voice notes, Note Everything supports paint notes which allow the user to draw on the phone’s touch screen. Also, folders can be nested to provide a deeper level of organization than is available in other applications. Picture notes and checklists are supported but only in the pro version. The application supports export to the SD card and to Google Docs (through an add-on) but does not support true synchronization. Individual notes and folders can be placed on the home page for quick access. Full text search is provided through Android’s integrated search.

Evernote’s Android offering is still relatively new compared to some of the other applications that have been discussed here. Evernote provides a rich iPhone application but the Android version is just starting to catch up. For fans of the Evernote philosophy of being able to access your data everywhere, this application will prove indispensable even with its current limitations. Notes can be added in text, image, or audio format and are automatically uploaded to Evernote’s cloud database. From there the notes will automatically synchronize to a user’s Windows or Mac Evernote database. Keyword and geolocation tagging are provided as is integration with the Share menu. When compared to other applications a few features, most notably integrated search and local storage of notes on the phone, are still missing. The application is still in beta and is frequently updated so these features could be coming soon.

Color Note, from Social & Mobile, is a simple notepad application with an interesting interface which allows switching between a list view of the notes and a view that resembles neatly arranged sticky notes. Only two types of notes are supported: text notes and checklists. Both types of notes can be color coded to create categories. Notes can be pinned to the home screen and shared through Android’s built-in Share menu. Full text search is available through Android’s integrated search system. One major feature which appears to be missing is the ability to import or export notes.

Easy Note + 2do combines folders and sticky notes into a distinctive interface. Folders can be named and color coded. A sample set of useful folders is provided by default but more can be added. Individual notes can be styled with various fonts and colors. Both text and checklist notes are supported. Image, video, or voice attachments can be added to any note. Individual folders can be configured to synchronize with Google Docs. The free version of this application is supported by advertisements but can be upgraded to a paid version which doesn’t contain ads.

There are many more note-taking applications available from the Android Market. The above applications are examples of some of the more popular of the programs available. Choosing which one works best for you will be a matter of deciding which one meets your needs, integrates with online services you already use or are comfortable starting to use, and suits your personal preference for interface style. The best way to find the notepad application which is right for you is to compare features, download the ones that seem most suitable, and experiment with them. As always when downloading applications, it is wise to scan the recent comments for any newly discovered problems and to make sure that you are comfortable with the system permissions the application requires to run.

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