Smartphones may have made paper pocket notebooks all but obsolete, but thanks to note taking apps, people still have to decide which notebook they want to use. And from the fierce competition among software engineers to develop the perfect note taking app, three champions have emerged as the most popular and noteworthy apps of their kind: Springpad, Evernote, and OneNote.
While these three options are all supposed to serve the same function, the small differences in functionality between them can make for a big difference in user experience depending on your individual needs.
If you’re having a hard time choosing your next note taking app, read on for a comparison of these three apps and discover which the perfect option for you is.
Anyone who has been keeping up with Microsoft’s OneNote can tell you with complete confidence that it has been improving with every new release. And ever since the 2010 version of OneNote hit shelves, virtually anyone who has ever used a note taking app now knows the name OneNote. What’s more impressive is that this notoriety is more than owed to OneNote in virtue of its feature list alone.
OneNote’s main job is creating local and cloud based notebooks which are synced through the Microsoft SkyDrive service. While fully optimized for Windows phones, OneNote also includes support for the iPhone and the iPad, though the recently ported iPad version of the app has been criticized for slightly interior aesthetics on its non-native platform. While OneNote isn’t quite a word processor, it’s fair to say that it has far more formatting features than Springpad or Evernote. Notebooks can be cleverly divided into sections by color, topic, or type, and audio notes and screen clipping are also included without needing a third party support app.
If you’re already using Microsoft’s SkyDrive service, you’ll appreciate having your office documents and notebooks synced up in the same place as well as your ability to edit these documents from any browser. Even though OneNote runs somewhat slower than Evernote or Springpad, this is because its integration into the cloud as well as the extensive formatting options that make this one of the most fully loaded apps available.
Probably the most popular of the three on this list, no minor part of Evernote’s success has been due to its early adoption of cross platform support. With a desktop client, a browser-interface, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry apps, Evernote has had something for everyone right from the start. Although the Evernote interface is a bit cluttered compared to OneNote, that feeling is dispelled once you’ve gotten used to the layout.
From the main screen, notes can be divided into notebooks or into tags. This makes sorting through notes as they begin to collect into an archive as easy as sorting an email account. And this sorting is one of the reasons that students and faculty alike prefer Evernote in university settings.
Compared to OneNote, Evernote performs drastically better even on older smartphones. The clean and crisp interface flows smoothly from page to page regardless of if you’re on your iPhone or your iPad. Last but not least, Evernote can even be used as a miniature blogging platform because notes can be shared through Facebook. What more could you ask for?
While OneNote and Evernote have been a large part of the industry for years, Springpad is a relatively new arrival to the world of note taking apps. With a full web interface that supports offline access through a Google Chrome add-on and both Android and an iOS application, Springpad is just as accessible as a paper notebook.
Like you would expect from a note taking app, Springpad allows you to add notes and to-do items, but it also allows you to attach files to notes in order to help bring them to life. These files can include photos, html content, or even other notes in your notebook. Notes can be further refined with reminders that can raise your attention with alarm or tags that can help you sort through your notes easily.
Springpad also beats out both Evernote and OneNote when it comes to the iPad. Recognized as one of the most beautiful apps on the platform, the iPad app interface isn’t just ergonomic and sleek, it also adapts to your style by importing your existing iPad theme. And because the iPad interface is virtually identical to the mobile version of the software, it’s a breeze going from platform to platform without having to spend any time trying to figure out where things should be.
If you’re a regular user of the Microsoft SkyDrive service, OneNote probably makes the most sense for you. Being able to sync your notebooks to the same place you’re already storing documents is probably too compelling a feature for any SkyDrive user to pass it up.
Between Evernote and Springpad, your choice will more likely depend on what type of notes that you will be taking. If you want to use your notes on a desktop client as a student storing notes from a class might, Evernote will be your best bet because of its seamless integration with its desktop software.
Springpad on the other hand is more for everyday note taking because it covers all the bases without focusing on one specific type of features. This makes Springpad more like a scrapbook that has you covered regardless of what kind of note you want to take.