Apple’s iPads are serious productivity tools, but to get things done you need the right apps and services at your disposal.
While the humble notepad and pen have served us well for many years, it’s worth considering the advantages of taking your business into the digital age. Admittedly, it’s quick and easy to jot down notes on a piece of paper, but switching to note-taking apps makes it easier to save, search, share, archive and back up those precious business notes to keep them safe should disaster strike. Digital note-taking can also be another stepping stone in the journey towards the paperless office.
There’s no shortage of note-taking apps for the iPad in the iTunes app store, but it’s important to do your homework rather than just leaping in and hoping for the best. In most cases, you’re looking for something that is device agnostic, giving you the most flexibility as your business moves forward while also making it easy to share notes with colleagues as well as jump between devices and pick up working where you left off.
If this sounds like the kind of solution you need for your business, then Evernote and Microsoft’s OneNote should be at the top of your shortlist when it comes to evaluating the best note-taking apps for your needs. Alternatively, if you’re wedded to another ecosystem like iCloud or Google Drive, you’ll find note-taking apps that can link to these.
The beauty of using these apps on the iPad is that you can use the device like a tablet or a notebook, depending on the situation at hand.
You can carry your tablet around like a clipboard, resting it on your arm or laying it on the table as you take notes. Both OneNote and Evernote on the iPad are designed to work with a stylus, including the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil, so you can write and sketch on the screen knowing that your notes are automatically backed up to the cloud for safekeeping.
They also support multimedia, letting you drop photos and audio recordings into your notes – making it easier to keep a record of important meetings without trying to scribble down every detail. You can even draw on your photos to add annotations, which is perfect if you want to snap a photo of an interesting graphic in a PowerPoint presentation.
Both Evernote and OneNote also support handwriting recognition on the iPad, along with Optical Character Recognition for scanning images – but don’t expect miracles. If your messy scrawl is tough for a person to read, then you’ll need to make more of an effort if you expect a machine to be able to decipher it. You’ll probably need to slow down a bit and press a little more firmly, depending on your stylus.
The beauty of handwriting recognition is that it makes your handwritten notes searchable, like any other slab of text. You can also categorise and label your notes, as well as sort them into folders for different projects, to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. OneNote can search for text within images, but to make the most of handwriting recognition and OCR in Evernote you’ll want to look to Evernote’s companion apps, Penultimate and Scannable.
Sometimes a stylus is the best tool for the job, but other times you might prefer a keyboard at your fingertips – such as when you’re working in a cafe or airport lounge. The iPad’s on-screen keyboard is always at hand, but if you’d prefer a physical keyboard, you’ve got a wide range of Bluetooth wireless keyboards to choose from.
You’ll also find iPad cases with keyboards built into the cover. This way you’ve got the best of both worlds, easily jumping between tablet and notebook modes. You can type notes directly into OneNote and Evernote, even mixing handwriting and typed text in the same document.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for new business apps to help you get things done, so make sure you consider the full benefits of Evernote and OneNote’s ecosystems when choosing the best tools for the job.
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