Evernote in particular has become a favorite for a lot of people. It’s constantly mentioned around the net as one of the best note-taking apps both for the desktop platforms as well as the various mobile platforms out there. You can get it for Windows, Mac and for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.
But is it the be all and end all note taking app? Is it really best for everything? One other note-taking app that hasn’t been discussed much here at MUO is the Microsoft offering – OneNote mobile. If you’ve read my article on the OneNote desktop application, then you know that I like to use it to organize a lot of the research I do for different articles.
I like the simplicity of the application, as well as the fact that it has just enough functionality for me to do what I need when it comes to note-taking, without all of the extra bells-and-whistles that usually come along with word processors and other note-taking applications that usually just get in the way.
Comparing OneNote & Evernote
The best way for me to gauge whether OneNote can hold its own in the arena of mobile note-taking apps is simply to place it up against what most people consider to be the best note-taking app of all time – Evernote.
Why not? When it boils right down to it, the whole purpose of these applications is to give you the convenience to record ideas while your mobile – in whatever form those ideas may take. Setting aside the flowery add-ons and bells-and-whistles – does OneNote offer the streamlined ease-of-use for quick note-taking, while also offering enough features to compare to the likes of Evernote?
Evernote for Android
I constantly switch between note-taking apps because I’m always on the hunt for that “perfect” app that won’t be a pain to use – overloaded with features and overburdened with complexity – but will also give me the functionality I need.
I used Evernote for quite a while, so I already had an account. This made it really easy to test the Evernote app for Android. All of these tests were conducted on my Android tablet – the Asus Prime.
It doesn’t take very long to see why Evernote is so popular. Bottom line is that the layout is really slick and easy to organize. You’ve got a four-button note-taking app, essentially.
Create a new note with a tap of the finger, take and notate a snapshot with another tap of the finger, record an audio note just as easily, or attach a file. As you can see, notes are really easy to organize within “Notebooks”, and of course you can tag notes so that searching for them is really easy.
These features have all been covered in other reviews here at MUO, but its worth mentioning again so that we can compare these features to OneNote. If you’re talking about bells-and-whistles, there can be no doubt that Evernote has it. From right within the app you can search for Evernote “add-ons” and widgets that just extend the app like you wouldn’t believe. One add-on provides speech-to-text. Another add-on integrates Evernote with your home screen. Yet another lets you jot drawings or notes by hand on top of your photographs.
And when it comes to functionality – there are separate Android apps that you can install that extend the features of Evernote even further. One example is Evernote Food, which lets you quickly “note” the meal that you’re having. You do this by taking a quick snapshot and adding the details about the meal. The app automatically loads that information into your Evernote account as a new “note”.
Then there’s the Evernote Hello app, which basically helps you to quickly add an Evernote contact “business card” to your Evernote account the moment you meet someone. Snap their picture, jot down their name, email address and phone number, and voila – you’ve just instantly added a contact note to your Evernote account.
The app gives you a nice little feature where you can browse through all of your contacts using a grid that displays all of the contacts by their photo.
So, as you can see, Evernote will leave people wanting for nothing. If you want flashy apps that let you view meals, capture contacts, and let you stuff groups of notes into “Notebooks”, by all means stick with Evernote.
But what about OneNote, does it have anything to offer the humble note-taker that simply wants to….oh, I don’t know, jot down notes?
A Look at OneNote Mobile
What OneNote mobile has going for it is that it is about as streamlined and convenient as it can get. Just tap the big “+” button and you’re instantly in the middle of adding a new note. You can type up a text note quickly, which will immediately get synced to your online Microsoft Live account. No save button required – it gets saved automatically.
Sure, you can install extra apps to capture cool pictures of your meals. But why install extra apps when all you have to do is tap the camera button at the top of a note you’re creating, and you can capture a picture that gets embedded directly into the note? It’s perfect for jotting down information about where you were, what you were eating, and capturing a quick snapshot of the meal. You’re done, and it’s all from within the single OneNote app.
Want to capture contacts like the Hello app? No need for an additional app there either. Just create a new note, type in the address and phone details, and then tap the camera icon. You can take a picture of the person, and it automatically gets embedded into that note. Within less than a minute you can create a contact, complete with a photo snapshot of the person. Never forget a name or a face.
I know – she’s got a face only a mother could love, doesn’t she?
Anyway, the only drawback that I see between OneNote and Evernote is that Evernote has far superior organizational features. The ability to organize notes into “Notebooks” is a pretty big deal. OneNote does at least provide not only the main screen list of up to 500 notes (the maximum for the free app), but it does give you a quick list of Recent Notes you’ve created so that you can usually quickly get back to notes you’ve recently made, or that you’re working on.
Personally, I think the decision as to which app is more useful comes down to what you’re going to use it for. If you really don’t care for all of the flashy layout, and you want an effective and simple note-taking app that syncs your notes to an online account, OneNote will get it done for you. If you’re looking for lots of cool features, awesome graphics and plenty of add-ons, then you’re probably best off sticking with Evernote.
Have you ever tried using the OneNote mobile app? Do you like it? Share your own thoughts and experiences with this app in the comments section below.