I recently conducted an experiment: I checked out one of the Katherine Brush Library’s iPads for one week. I had two goals in this experiment. One, to see how effective an iPad is vs. plain old notebooks and binders, and two, to see how much I personally liked the experience and could feasibly integrate the iPad into my note-taking life. Without further ado, my review!
Overall, I found taking notes on an iPad was pretty fun! The tidiness of taking notes electronically amazed me, as did some nifty features that stem from syncing between apps on the iPad or between the iPad and the computer. Here are the apps I used:
- One Note (Microsoft Office): I loved, loved, loved having One Note on the iPad. If you aren’t familiar with One Note, it’s like Microsoft Word but with a cleaner and simpler interface. The features I most like about One Note are the simplicity of the interface, the ability to categorize notes in notebooks, and the sync option! This option is what really made One Note great to have on the iPad. I could take notes on the iPad in my English or Ancient Philosophy classes, and after I synced they would appear on the One Note installed on my computer, for me to reference while completing that night’s homework. Neatest. Function. Ever.
- Evernote: I have Evernote installed on my computer, and I also used it on the iPad (and it also syncs!). I like Evernote for its sharing functionality, but to me it feels a little less ‘academic’ than One Note. This might just be because so far I have used Evernote for my artwork ideas and reference pictures, but overall Evernote definitely has less options when taking a ‘note.’ It’s nice, though, for keeping track of tasks. And another bonus is the Moleskine company makes techy paper notebooks that sync with Evernote. . .
- Penultimate: This app is Evernote’s sister (it syncs to Evernote and uploads your notes there). Created to be used with a stylus, it’s a real ‘note taking’ app in that you use it to make handwritten notes–but on your iPad. I liked using Penultimate for handwritten notes, because while both Evernote and One Note let you free draw notes, neither of them was very accurately calibrated; Penultimate was. All my handwritten notes were clean, fresh, and legible–and the automatic zoom and pan option let me make precise and neat notes. I hated the highlight colors on the app though–who uses forest green or autumn orange highlighter?
I really liked carrying less notebooks around. Another great feature was just having Safari and the internet accessible during class to look up words or history relevant to a class discussion (not to look at Buzzfeed, I swear…). Also, having Apple books and the Amazon Kindle app downloaded helped to digitally download books and carry even less! My tip though, is to buy the ebook via Amazon and open it on the Kindle app–Apple books are usually more expensive.
So, would I use an iPad as an academic accessory in the future? (i.e. in college; I say bye to Loomis in 88 days).
Yes! But it would have to be my own iPad. A major obstacle in converting to electronic notes came in all the handouts and printable sheets teachers give for homework or notes. Ideally, I would scan these and save them on my iPad. Though I suppose this could be circumvented through using Google Drive, getting the most synced iPad experience would come with saving these scans on the iPad, being logged on to all your accounts, downloading your own music, and rearranging the apps as you please (something I couldn’t really do with a library iPad). So now I definitely have an iPad on my college supplies wish-list.