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Review: Take a Note

July 30, 2009



As a writer, speaker, and all around “Too-Busy-to-Get-Intro-Trouble-but-I-Try” kind of guy, I find it funny that I am charged by AppAdvice to talk about organization and productivity. I would have never seen myself working with such apps on my iPhone like the ones I’ve been reviewing here, and while many of them are variations on a theme you will find one of those gems that thinks every way around a concept and makes it better. When you do that with something like To Do lists, that’s pretty impressive. Take a Note (by Readdle Software and priced at $4.99), from the moment you boot it up, promises to make something as mundane as daily time management and organization of To Do list far less boring and far more efficient. Sporting a highly visual, varied media interface, Take a Note breaks away from the pack of iPhone organizers and helps you keep everything together.


User-Friendly Interface

Perhaps my biggest gripe with many of the Organizer apps out there has been the learning curve involved in how they work. While you assign deadlines, there are projects that serve as a parent category for these individual items; but when both have separate deadlines and you cannot organize either deadlines, items, or projects intuitively (or even by your own quirky system), then the organizer becomes somewhat frustrating. It becomes doubly so, when you need to download a second application to “unlock the app’s potential.” Take a Note makes mastering of their interface and managing of your categories a snap. Simply launch Take a Note, tap Add a Note and do just that: take a note. Once you type in your reminder or To Do item, immediately tap the Category tab, tap Add New Category, and create it. From here, the Category can either be used in the future or you can repeat this step and make new one. When you are done, tap Done in the top left corner and return to the main Add Note interface. Simple. Elegant. Logical. img_0002-02 Take a Note developers also know how much iPhone users love landscape which is why the application supports Landscape Orientation. This is a real joy for me, especially when typing in the detailed goals for the day.

img_00012What if Inspiration Hits Me Behind the Wheel?

That’s what happened to me when I got the idea for The Case of the Singing Sword: A Billibub Baddings Mystery. I tried to write down both the title and the opening line while in rush hour traffic. I would describe the experience as “Analog Texting 1.0” and was lucky I didn’t sideswipe someone on the D.C. Beltway. Take a Note would have been really handy here as you can simply tap on “Audio Note” to access its audio recording feature. Even before iPhone 3.0’s Voice Memos feature, Take a Note offered this option to turn your iPhone into a sharp, little digital recorder. The app’s recorder has terrific pickups so there’s no need to raise your voice. Speak normally, use the headset with your iPhone, and capture your inspiration. Once you park the car, tap the “Stop” button and then add in any relevant notes and categories by tapping the tabs accompanying the audio note. If the inspiration is more visual, Take a Note offers Photo Note. What’s that? When you tap on the feature, the interface suggests you either take a picture or use one from your gallery. Whichever one you choose, the image will appear as if it has been scotch-taped into this journal running on your iPhone. As with the Audio Notes, you can also assign notes and categories with the image.

WiFi Integration

If you take advantage of your Audio Notes, you might find yourself filling up your iPhone with a lot of AIF files. Keep in mind that 20-30 seconds of audio can take up a megabyte. Not a lot when you have a few gigabytes available, but you can easily burn through that data space if you have apps, movies, music, and other necessities loaded. Fortunately, Take a Note makes wireless integration with your desktop or laptop a breeze. Simply tap on the “WiFi Access” option in the menu, enter the offered IP Address into your computer, and your iPhone appears. (If you’re having difficulties, access Help by tapping on the question mark.) Your iPhone, once mounting on your computer, will show you your categories. Your notes will be TXT files, audio will appear as AIF files, and images will also be there as JPG files. You can set up an Archive on your computer and “clean house” if needed.



The Good:

Visually, Take a Note is the sweetest of eye candy. I appreciate that something so tedious as putting together and maintaining To Do lists has been given this kind of slick look and intuitive interface. I am finding the Audio and Photo Notes a real blessing, and have been filling my iPhone with future projects and ideas for podcasts and blog postings. I’ve even dropped in a reoccurring note for myself to blog, an image of one of my favorite mugs serving as inspiration. It is worth mentioning that when you transfer photos from your iPhone to the computer and “Delete Originals” you do not lose the Photo Note. A copy of the image remains in Take a Note, and can be retrieved (or removed entirely from your iPhone) with a WiFi transfer. And for Take a Note’s Landscape Orientation support — two words: Thank you! The app’s own organization of your categories, found under the “Notes” option, is also sensible and aesthetic. The top portion features all items listed by format while the lower portion organizes items by Category. The “Settings” (the gears icon in the upper-left corner) also allow you to fine tune your notes, ranging from a variety of typefaces you can use to an alphabetical sort for even more tidiness.

img_0004The Bad:

As far as To Do lists and organizers go, this app has raised the bar both from a visual and an interactive perspective. I do love that. However, I am disappointed with everything Take a Note takes into account, it does not offer assignments or alerts for To Do’s Due Dates. Along with this, there are no real ways to tick off an item as “Completed.” It’s either there or in the trash. This is a slick app and features like these I’d love to see in the future. Another detail not offered is allowing for one To Do item to appear across multiple categories. The app’s ability to create categories is reminiscent of working with WordPress, both on the desktop and the iPhone. WordPress does allow “multiple category” assignments for one item, though. I wish Take a Note did the same.


For right-brained people like me, Take a Note takes away some of the pain of organizing To Do lists and important things needing attention with its beautiful graphics and ease-of-use. Of all the various organizers I’ve been toying and tinkering with, I vote this one as my favorite, and find it a worthwhile investment for the iPhone. It may lack a few features that should be standard for Productivity apps like a “Status” of specific items and the ability to assign one item in multiple categories; but when you need to get an idea down and get it down fast, or if you want to record an inspiration that you catch with your iPhone’s camera, this is the application for you. That, and if you just want an organizer with a touch of class, is reason enough to pick up Take a Note. Go on and fire it up — you can practically smell the leather of its cover and feel the parchment of its interface.

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