Notesy: The Power of Dropbox Behind Your Notes

When you buy a piece of technology, you’re goal is often to simplify your life. And, while that may be a little too idealistic for some, in reality it’s what technology is all about.

When you buy an iPad, there are some obvious parts of your life that you’re looking to simplify, and one of those is note taking. How appealing is the ability to search through every note you’ve ever taken at any moment in time? Or having access to those notes whenever and wherever you are? That’s ubiquitous capture, that’s flexibility, that’s the holy grail of notebooks right?

That’s what the iPad could be, it could be the ultimate notebook. But, the built-in Notes app just isn’t going to cut it. Nope, that’s why there’s the App Store, and why there’s a fiercely competitive market for high quality note taking apps. Today we’re going to look at Notesy, and see how close it comes to giving us that ultimate notebook experience.

A Little Background

For the purposes of this review, I’m going to make a few assumptions about you, dear reader. I know, dangerous, right? And yet, here I go.

I’m going to assume that you’re already are aware of the benefits of storing your notes in plain text format, that you’ve maybe even built a smart taxonomic set of naming conventions for those .txt notes.

If you haven’t then I strongly encourage you to go visit Douglas Barone’s excellent post on the subject at his blog.

Ok, now that we’ve established that storing notes as individual .txt files is the way to go, let me briefly explain why Dropbox is key to all of this. Then we’ll move on to Notesy. Trust me, this stuff is all important.

You see, getting information onto any iOS device is tricky. For a while there wasn’t really any way other than sending files as attachments via email.

It was far from practical, and encouraged developers to get a little more creative. Enter Dropbox. Dropbox is a utility that creates a folder on any computer you like, and synchronizes the data within it across all of those machines.

Now, Dropbox has an API, and iOS developers saw a nifty way to give you access to files on your iPad – and wirelessly too! All you have to do is store your .txt files in your Dropbox folder, and then log into your Dropbox account through any of these note taking apps.

Notesy

And now we see how Notesy fits into all this. Notesy is one of those apps that syncs with Dropbox.

On launching the app for the first time, you access its Settings menu and provide it with your login details to Dropbox. You then have the option of choosing what folder to sync with Notesy. By default, it creates its own folder but if you’ve already got a folder full of notes that’s fine too, just point Notesy to it and you’re good to go.

Link to Dropbox

Link to Dropbox

While we’re in the Settings menu, let’s pop over to the Style section. Now, this can become a little fiddly, but there are a wide range of customization options available to you.

You have complete stylistic control over the app. You can change the font size, color, and family for variable and fixed-width fonts, as well as the background on both the List View and the Note View. There are huge variety of combinations to choose from!

Style Settings

Style Settings

Notesy also includes some more Advanced Settings which allow for TextExpander integration, and let you choose to show or hide file extensions, or show a badge count of the number of notes you have.

The Interface

Notesy could easily be described as an exercise in minimalism, but at times I feel like it borders on being, well, boring. It’s not so much elegantly minimal as it is generically simple.

Perhaps it’s just not my cup of tea. Perhaps it’s yours. Lets break the interface into two parts though: the List View, and the Note View.

List View

The List View of Notesy is the main view of the app, it’s what you appear in when you launch the app for the first time. Honestly, it’s just a larger view of what you see in the iPhone version of the app. And while that UI works well on the iPhone, on the iPad it feels very strange and out of place.

I’d really like to see some more creativity here, making better use of the large display to show more information at once than you’d be able to on the iPhone.

List View

List View

Note View

Once you tap on a note, the Note View slides in. Again, there isn’t anything fancy going on here. But, that’s not necessarily a negative thing.

Across the bottom is a row of five icons – the maximum number you can fit on an iPhone screen. On the iPad, they feel very disjointed, and lonely.

These icons allow you to bring up a menu of actions you can perform on the note and see more information about the note. You can also delete the note, activate the keyboard, and view the note in a full screen mode. All of these are useful features, and I like that you have access to them at the bottom of the screen.

You can also create a new note from both screens of the app, there’s a button in the top right-hand corner.

Note View

Note View

Honestly, this isn’t a revolutionary UI. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a useful app though. Not every app needs to break new ground in user experience.

Notesy boasts a simple feature set to accomplish one goal – letting you edit notes from a Dropbox account, on your iPad.

Wrap Up

I personally believe that Notesy perfectly fulfills on its promise to be a quality note taking app for the iPad.

Being a universal app, if you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, you only have to buy this $2.99 app once and you can use it across all of your devices. If you’re looking for a functional, no-frills note taking app for your iPad, one that lets you focus on writing, then Notesy is the app for you.


Summary

Notesy is a Dropbox-based note taking app for the iPad and iPhone.

8
  • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

    Along the same line, PlainText is my favorite Dropbox enabled note-taking app on iPad. It’s got a clean interface, automatically uploads notes in text format, and now lets you search through your notes.

    • http://zachlebar.com Zach LeBar

      PlainText has been a recent favorite of mine as well. I love the stuff that Hog Bay Software makes, and the recent addition of search kinda clinched the deal for me. Most of my note-taking system relies on being able to search for notes.

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