While notebook apps like Evernote and Springpad are digital file drawers for us paperless converts, we can’t always use these notebooks to showcase our ideas, plans, and agendas in an old style paper format. But a new iPad and iPhone app called MagicalPad may be just the solution for expanding what can be done on iOS devices.
MagicalPad isn’t just another notebook app, but a highly useful app for creating outlines, notes, mind maps, drawings and more as you would on sheets of printed paper. MagicalPad provides the tactical feel that allows users to move content around on the canvas, instead of just typing lines of notes. Let’s check out what it can do.
Note: MagicalPad is not a universal app and this review is based on the “HD” iPad version, not the iPhone version.
How It Works
What stands out for me about MagicalPad is that you can use it like a roll of drafting paper onto which you add notes, drawings, lists, images, and even checkbox items placed vertically or horizontally on the scrolling canvas. It’s a great way to present material to a client or members of your project team.
MagicalPad first reminded me of Sketch Rolls, which allows you to add pages vertically and scroll to the left to add and view drawings. MagicalPad is also like Notability, which features tools for typing, drawing, importing images and sharing content. But MagicalPad goes further. It includes tools for adding flow charts, outlines, mind maps, and text boxes, as well as drawings and photos.
You may not want to use MagicalPad for writing long extended pieces of writing. Instead, it feels more useful as a notebook and project planning or presentation app. You can, for example, add text boxes and move them around on the canvas. You can tap on a text box when the keyboard is closed and get access to a useful set of tools for copying text, changing the font style and size, adding fill color and a border, or deleting the box all together.
One feature in the toolox allows you to open a text box or flow chart in a separate window so that you can view content in a larger space, add an image from your device’s Camera Roll or take a photo right from within the app.
The app uses three toolbars, and the top toolbar includes buttons for undo and redo, text and color formatting, export and import of content, and full screen mode which hides the toolbars.
The bottom toolbar consists of a Page Selector, which in addition to creating new blank pages, also contains templates for meeting notes, customer call cards, brainstorming (including templates for a pre-formatted outline, SWOT analysis chart, and a mind mapping cluster) as well as ideas.
Other toolbar items are for adding text boxes, images, drawings, charts, a multi-select tool for selecting multiple items at once, and a zoom tool. Like most advanced iOS apps, you can enlarge and decrease the size of the canvas by pinching in or out with two fingers.
You can also change the background color of the canvas, duplicate it, and move or copy it to another notebook. When you press down and hold on any part of the canvas, a smaller toolbar pops up with items for adding a text box, images and drawings, or copying and pasting content.
MagicalPad also includes a pen drawing tool, but its digital ink is not as smooth as what you find in Penultimate.
Experienced iPad users will find MagicalPad pretty intuitive, but there’s a button on the app’s homepage that includes access to an in-app help menu, a basic overview video, and a 45-page clearly written and illustrated manual.
Notebook content can be synched between devices via iCloud and exported in PDF and JPEG formats. But there’s more: you can also share content to email, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Twitter, Facebook, and to your device’s Camera Roll.
While MagicalPad is not a universal app, both versions of the iOS app are affordably priced, and when the OS X version is released, it’s going to make for a really powerful cross-platform production environment.
If MagicalPad provides solutions for the type of paperless note taking you’ve been looking for, I highly recommend downloading the iPad version and checking it out for yourself. It looks to have all the tools most paperless users would want. But let us know what you think of it, and what features you would like to see added.