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First impressions  

If you’re one of those people who has to make lots of notes, lists, and take down information on a daily basis, you’ll know there are many note-taking and recording options at your disposal. It’s rare, however, that you’ll find a device or software that allows you to do both.  

The Notability app could just be the perfect tool when you want to combine handwriting with typed text and even audio recordings. Available for absolutely no money in the App Store, Notability is a very versatile way of keeping records, from grocery lists to all your ideas for that blockbuster film you want to make, titled “Zombie bikinis.” 

You can scribble on the screen, highlight important sections, and yabber away on your microphone if you wish. It will all help you remember that valuable information. 

How it works  

The app takes you through a very simple tutorial, covering the basics of using Notability. You’ll be shown how to use the “pencil,” erase your work, zoom in on parts of the page, and prevent stray marks from appearing on your note (a tool you’ll quickly want to master). You’ll also get a brief glimpse of what can be achieved by employing the scissors feature, which allows you to scale and rotate your handwriting and sketches. 

The audio recording tool, activated by tapping on the microphone icon, uses the internal microphone on your device and will keep recording until you tap it again. That recording will be specifically associated with the note you’re in, linking its information to whatever you’ve written or included on your pages. 

Once you’ve gone through the tutorial, you can move to the library by tapping the icon in the top left-hand corner. Here you’ll find the collection of all the notes you’ve created thus far, and access to the settings and help section. 

Tap on the cog on the bottom left, and you’ll see where you can automatically back up your data using services like Dropbox and Google Drive, activate iCloud to keep your notes up to date between your devices, change the theme of your notes and the color and style of your note paper, adjust the font style, type and color when you use the keyboard, and set modes for your handwriting. The settings section really allows you to personalize your notes, and add some color when you want it. 

The “?” symbol next to the cog leads to the Notability User Guide – a wealth of information for those who would like more in-depth tuition on using the app, or just want to learn how to perform a specific task. 

The library is also the place to create subjects and dividers to further organize your notes, and search by name, modified date or created date. 

When I tried it  

It was difficult to not be mesmerized by my own handwriting when I tried the tutorial. I don’t know how they’ve designed the font, but I reckoned I was the next William Shakespeare with my beautiful, elegant strokes whisking across the page. I then completely forgot to change my tool, and promptly threw a great line into the mix as my finger brushed the screen. Time to use the eraser tool. 

The eraser does not have to be barrelled back and forth as one might do in “Paint;” it simply has to be wiped across the offending item to remove it. 

I had to try the audio tool, as I do love the sound of my own voice. A good thing too, as it came baying back at me when I tapped the “play” symbol. The internal microphone on an iPad is pretty effective, so if you get fairly close to it, you’ll have no worries of catching every word, breath and swallow. 

After I had tried the basics, I got into testing the highlighting feature and changing the color of my notepaper. I then saved a note and started a new one, finding the app to be very versatile and accommodating. 

I decided that I could definitely get used to a tool like this, particularly when taking notes for a story, or working on my future Academy Award-winning documentary. 

Final thoughts  

Depending on the line of work you’re in, the Notability app could be a great asset. Teachers, for example, could make terrific use of this for classes and projects. The best thing about it is its price. When something like this is free, there’s no reason not to give it a go, particularly when it could make your life easier, or more interesting. 

Kids will probably enjoy using it as well, which makes it priceless. 

Pros:  

Free. Doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet. Easy to use. 

 

Cons:  

Can’t think of any. 

Notability
Cost: Free
Seller: Ginger Labs
Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Rating: E for Everyone 

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