Recently I’ve noticed that I’m beginning to forget things more than I ever have and so I’m starting to make more notes to keep track of ideas that are there one minute and gone the next. Being a tech writer I probably shouldn’t admit that my desk is covered in bits of paper with physical notes written on them, but I’ve not really explored too many note-taking apps until now.
Scatterbrain is a free app designed to help organise thoughts, ideas and anything else that demands quick, concise and orderly notes. The app has been on our Best Of iPhone Apps page for a short while now, so it’s time to take it for a spin and see why it comes so highly recommended.
More Than Just Notes.app
You may find yourself wondering whether or not you really need a note-taking app on iOS, after all with the default Notes.app and the recently iCloud-enabled Reminders.app included with iOS, the iPhone is fairly well-equipped for keeping track of thoughts and ideas. Add a slew of similar apps like Trello and Clear for list-taking and project management, and note-taking seems to be covered.
Notes.app is the “scrap paper” of the note taking world – if you need to write it down, it’ll do the job just fine but you might have trouble finding it again later. Scatterbrain feels more like a well-organised folder full of notes with concise descriptions, clear titles and colours to help separate ideas. Even the name appeals to me because I often feel like my ideas come from nowhere and disappear before long unless I write them down, and if you feel the same then you can answer with a resounding “yes” to the question of whether or not another iOS app is required.
Clear and Trello are my two life-savers when it comes to remembering things, but Clear is a list-making app not suited to taking notes and Trello is a project management tool which feels big and empty when you use it for note taking. Scatterbrain steps up to the task perfectly, providing a clean interface that doesn’t bombard you with extras that you don’t need. When you first start the app the first thing you’ll see is the Thoughts tab which is empty. At the bottom of the screen is a big inviting “+” plus button which is used to add a new note.
Tap it and you’ll be provided with two text boxes – a title and description – for jotting down your current thoughts. Below these are two boxes recording the date the note was created and the last time it was modified, as well as a colour box and option to set a reminder. iPhone 5 and 4S users can use Siri to dictate their notes, the rest of us on older or non-Siri enabled iDevices will have to make do with our thumbs.
One thing I really like about Scatterbrain is the ability to create bulleted lists within one note by adding bullets using the “+._” button below the description box. If like me you’re salivating over the quantity of promising-looking Xbox 360 games coming out over the next few weeks but are having trouble keeping track, you can create a “Buy Xbox 360 Games” note and put each title under a bullet. This looks a lot better than separating items with commas, especially when your notes consist of long sentences and makes your notes much more readable at a glance.
Over on the other tab (there really are only two) are a few customisable settings and an option to register for a “ScatterSync” account in order to backup your notes to the cloud. This isn’t mandatory, and only handy if you’re worried you might lose your precious thoughts and the app works perfectly fine without this. This is also where you can manage colours, change their names to labels and drag to reorder how colour coordinated notes should display.
Once you’ve set everything up, it looks good and you can search or sort by colour, date, alphabetically or by notes that have reminders.
Scatterbrain is a well made, easy to use advert-free note-taking app that will help you organise your life. Additional features like bulleting, reminders and custom labels make your notes a little more dynamic and easy to read at a glance and the free price tag provides a great excuse to download it to see if it’s as useful for you as it seems.
If you’ve used Scatterbrain or would recommend another note-taking app for iPhone feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Is this the best free app for the job on iOS?