With smartphones and tablets so widely available now, it’s easy to replace pens and notebooks with more efficient note-taking apps. From wireless syncing to tagging and discovering older notes, it’s easy to drop paper forever with some of these apps. Several months ago we covered the best available note-taking applications available on Android, but since then, a few of the apps have disappeared and others have adopted new features to make them more competitive with heavyweights like Evernote. Below you’ll find a list of the best apps available on the Play Store to help you take notes faster and more easily.
It’s pretty easy to make an argument for Evernote being the best available note-taking application, and with good reason. From an end-user standpoint, it has more features than you could ever use, it’s available on just about every platform or device you can own, and it’s incredibly simple to use.
The application itself works extremely well, allowing users to store notes into notebooks and store those notebooks on their Evernote account. By keeping everything tied to one central account, you can begin writing out a checklist on your phone, view it later on your tablet, then finish it up on a laptop without having to put in any extra effort. Other apps will keep your notes synced up between devices, but with Evernote’s deep tagging functionality, plus being able to use notebooks to store different types of notes, it’s one of the better options for users that have tons and tons of different notes and lists that they need to keep up with.
To make that cross-device functionality even sweeter, Evernote offers a web clipper that allows users to snip content from the web and save it straight into an Evernote notebook. See a new piece of furniture you like online? Clip it into a notebook, annotate it on your tablet that night, and check it on your phone while you’re out shopping the next day. The seamless syncing and functionality of Evernote makes it very, very hard to beat.
Aside from just keeping your stuff mirrored across devices, Evernote also offers a ton of different features for just taking notes. You can create notes from text, voice memos, or pictures. You can also create reminders and checklists. The tagging feature within Evernote makes it incredibly simple to find whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s a photo reminder for some groceries or a recipe you copied months ago.
For someone that just needs to keep a quick note around to remember to grab milk on the way home, Evernote might be a little too much. For a power user that needs a central place to keep everything organized, it’s one of the best options on the market.
The Evernote application is free, and the Evernote service allows up to 60 MB of notes to be uploaded per month. For $5 a month, Evernote premium gives users the additional ability to store notes offline, search scanned PDF files, share notebooks and collaborate with others, and ups that 60 MB limit to a full 1 GB.
Papyrustakes a unique spin on digital note taking apps by trying to closely reproduce the feeling of jotting down information on a real piece of paper. The app works with either your finger or a stylus, and it even supports active styluses like Samsung’s S-Pen on the Galaxy Note line of devices. Although Papyrus doesn’t offer as many bells and whistles as some other apps, it replicates physical paper and handwriting much better than any other available app.
Papyrus lets users set up different groups of notes, so you can organize your notes for different classes, different shopping lists, different sketches, etc. Within each note, there are a handful of tools that make it extremely easy to write out exactly what you need, whatever that may be. There are different pen tips and a wide array of colors, plus you get a full suite of copy, cut, and paste tools. Thanks to the vector graphics engine that Papyrus is built on, the notes look crisp no matter how zoomed in they are.
If you opt for the premium features of Papyrus, you’ll get some extra tools including fine tuned erasers and some shaping and text tools. You can also import PDF files to edit them on the fly, and you’ll get full cloud backup to services like Dropbox. Definitely worth checking out if you need some extra functionality.
If you’re the type of person to keep paper notes and reminders all around, Papyrus should be high up on your list. If you have one of Samsung’s Galaxy Note devices, you’ll also get an app that fully supports the S-Pen, which is rare to find.
Keepis Google’s own entry into the note-taking app space, and it’s only improved since the last time we mentioned it. It offers an extremely sleek, simple way to keep your notes, and you get tons of the great features that Google offers in their other apps, including excellent voice recognition and search capabilities.
Notes in Keep can be set up in several different ways. You can use traditional text notes and checklists, but Google also lets you snap photos into notes and create voice memos that are transcribed on the fly. Creating notes is quick and simple thanks to Keep’s intuitive interface, and there’s even a quick note option for when you need to get right into jotting down some information without fumbling with fine tuned controls.
After creating notes, finding and organizing information is simple. You can tag notes with different colors, which makes them easy to find at a glance, and if you need to look up anything specific, Google indexes all of your note information so a search will turn up exactly what you’re looking for. And since Google makes Keep, your notes are synced through your Google account, so you’ll have access to everything on any tablet, phone, computer, or other device that’s signed into your account.
If you need something simple and quick that’s backed by Google’s top-notch information searching and voice recognition, it’s hard to pass up Keep. As long as it doesn’t go the way of Google Reader anytime soon, it’s a solid choice in this list.
Classic Notesis the multi-tool of note-taking apps. It offers more features and types of notes than any other app on the list, and it has enough generators and formulas and calculators built in to make it a great supplement to some of the other apps, even if it can’t replace them.
The app itself works pretty simply: tap the “New” button to create a new note, folder, or sketch, among other things. These notes function as you’d expect, with ToDo lists containing check boxes, notes being comprised of simple text, sketches containing drawings, etc.
Where Classic Notes really shows off the kitchen sink is in the Extras menu of note creation. That menu contains different types of note templates to help you store information, starting with simple stuff like area codes, which show the state and current local time of a specific are code, and dictionary definitions which retrieves the definition of a word and stores it in a note. There are more complex templates for stuff like audio frequencies, bi-gram phrases, and airport codes, and even some niche tools like a dice roller and a recipe of the day note-creator. While some of these notes can be useless, if you’re an information hoarder or you just like keeping notes of anything you look up throughout the day, they’re fantastic shortcuts that save you a copy/paste trip from Google.
Unfortunately, the interface in Classic Notes leaves something to be desired. It’s based off of the older iOS 6 aesthetic and sometimes struggles to look pretty on extremely high resolution devices. If you would prefer an app that values functionality over polish, Classic Notes is a good free option. Even if you don’t plan on using it as your primary note application, it makes a pretty handy reference tool on the side.
Note taking apps often offer features on top of features to try and outdo the next app on the market, but sometimes a clean, simple option is the best route to take. Simplenotetakes the minimalist route by giving you a basic interface to create and store your ideas without throwing too much clutter into the mix.
Simplenote follows Google’s design standards pretty closely, offering a basic white background and soft lines. As far as interface and ease of use goes, Simplenote beats out every other app on this list, including Google’s own offering, which is very impressive.
Taking notes in Simplenote is quick and easy. You create and title a note, add an optional tag or pin to the note, and close it. It’s automatically saved and stashed away, and if you ever need to find it again, a simple search will pull up any relevant information you’re looking for. There are no hoops to jump through and no frills with Simplenote, but it’s painless to use and quietly keeps your notes synced across all of your devices in the background. While that’s probably not going to be enough for someone who needs photo notes and tons of reference points, the minimalist approach covers all of your basics.
Simplenote is free, so if you’ve been looking for a lightweight application to handle your notes, this one is worth taking for a test drive. If you’re heavily invested into services like Evernote, it might not fit the bill, but for anyone else who just needs something to create some easy reminders, it’s a fantastic app.
There are no shortage of note taking apps available on the Play Store, so it can be tough to sift through so many and find exactly what you need. These apps cover a variety of different usages, so you should definitely be able to get some use out of any of them. Are there any other note applications that you use that we missed? Let us know in the comments.