Note-taking apps for the iPad come at a dime a dozen. From the more popular offerings such as Evernote and Simplenote to fairly obscure ones, there’s something out there on the App Store for almost every kind of iPad user. And now, with Beesy, from French developers BeesApps the business user is also covered as well. It’s received rave reviews from publications such as MacWorld and was recently featured as an Evernote Pick — a pretty astounding achievement, especially from such a massive and well-established company.
Beesy helps to make note-taking in the workplace a simple and painless task. At $5.99, it’s certainly priced towards the business end of the market so let’s find out whether or not Beesy is the note-taking app for professional use.
Upon launching Beesy you are greeted with the welcome screen (which can be deactivated) which gives you a brief tour of the app. The screen is simply a windowed version of the Help section on their website and if you need further help, there is a tutorial available in the Settings section which guides you around specific app features.
The Dashboard view of Beesy gives you a quick and easy overview of every aspect of the app. On the left-hand side is your calendar (which imports any calendars you have set up in iOS), from which you can easily add new events just like you would in any other calendar app. When you tap on a date, any events show up in the box below the calendar — from here you can create a note related to that event directly within Beesy.
The bulk of the Dashboard is taken up by the task view, which are organised into those that are important and not important (non-important within Beesy), and urgent and non-urgent. You assign these categories when you create a task (something we’ll look at in a bit) and tasks can be sorted by those that are overdue, due today and due this week.
Overall, the Dashboard view is fairly simple and a nice little feature of the app — I don’t like task managers where you have to hunt around to find the tasks that are due today. Within Beesy, everything is pretty much visible from one screen, which for the business user (towards which the app is orientated) is extremely important and it’s a feature that I can see will be appreciated by many.
Notes within Beesy can either be assigned to a project or can just sit on their own. You can choose the individual category for a note by tapping on one of the hexagons that appears at the bottom (e.g. a task, a deadline, a map and so on) and Beesy will even allow you to choose the language of an individual note.
Any notes that you make can be assigned a due date, a category (like we saw on the Dashboard — urgent, non-urgent, important and non-important) and if you’ve set up multiple users within Beesy, they can also be assigned to an individual person as well. And when it comes to sharing, there’s plenty of choice here: you can either e-mail individual notes, export them to PDF or CSV format and export them to either Evernote or Dropbox (as long as you’ve connected your respective accounts).
The sheer amount of note categories (16 in total) available to users amazed me and I could see each and every one of them coming in useful in one form of a business situation or another. Staying organised in the workplace is absolutely vital and I can envision Beesy being a real help here.
The Actions section gathers all your to-dos together by category and these can be filtered either by the person they are assigned to, the project, the topic, any notes that are assigned to it and priority. There’s also a built-in search function so you don’t have to hunt around all the little nooks and crannies of the app and from the Actions screen you can also customise each and every to-do, from the person it’s assigned to to its category.
Beesy allows you either to create individual projects or goals — and each one can have any number of to-do items assigned to it. Projects and goals can be given a priority on a sliding scale from 1 to 5 (with 1 being the least important and 5 being the most important), which is mirrored across the entire app.
Just like in the Actions screen, any to-dos assigned to projects or goals can be filtered by assigned person, project, topic, assigned notes and its priority — making it really easy to spot individual items and ensuring that nothing gets forgotten!
Unlike other apps, which lock down their settings tighter than Fort Knox, Beesy allows you to tinker with the app and its performance quite considerably. You can protect the app with a password (useful if you plan to store confidential stuff within the app) and Beesy also has an in-built notification system, alerting you to any updates or important news from the developers.
There is also the option to purchase additional features from right within Beesy, such as the ability to import documents from Microsoft Office or iWork, export reports to PDF and full synchronisation with Reminders in iOS 6. Each of these additional extras comes at $1.99 a pop, which I feel is a little excessive for an app that already costs nearly 6 bucks. Sure, an extra $2 here and there won’t bankrupt a company, but seeing as you are essentially paying for features that I would expect as standard, I was a little disappointed to see this.
Beesy is an odd one to weigh up. I was highly impressed by its range of features, ease-of-use and sheer “wow” factor — the developers really have thought almost every aspect of this app out from head to toe and the results speak for themselves: it really is a fantastic app to use and I can see it pleasing the hearts and souls of all the businessmen and women out there who grace it with their patronage.
But at times, I did find the app a little too complicated to use and the interface did tend to overwhelm at times. I was a fan of the hexagon-styled interface (I watched Blockbusters religiously as a kid and it did bring back happy memories) but sometimes I found myself tapping back and forth between screens and referring to the tutorial several times whilst testing the app. Sure, you can’t dive into all apps straightaway, but for the businessman with other things on his mind than learning how his note-taking and task management app on his iPad works, then I can see this being a slight disadvantage.
All in all, Beesy earns a very respectable 9 out of 10 rating. Its features are pretty much second to none, but the slightly confusing interface and the fact that at times the app is a little difficult to use and clunky in places prevent it unfortunately from earning our coveted 10 out of 10 rating. But I would recommend having a go with Beesy, even if you don’t stick with it, just to see what it’s like. Everyone has different tastes and some people may not be charmed by its radical approach to task management. If you don’t stick with it then, well, c’est la vie. But if you do, you’ll find it an amazingly powerful program that will surely deserve a place on your iPad’s home screen or even in your taskbar.