There are many wonderful note taking apps available for the iPad. Some would even say there’s an abundance. So when the market for note taking apps is crowded by the likes of Evernote, Notability and Penultimate (just to name of few of the highest rated note apps in the App Store), how does an app that’s not as well known stand out? Catch Notes has approached this challenge by continually adding some nifty features since it’s version 5.0 update earlier this year; but is it enough to break out from the pack? Find out after the jump.
When you fire up Catch Notes for the first time, the main interface will load and a couple of tutorial-esque notes will display to explain a few features. Though not required, an account must be created within the app (or on Catch’s website) in order to access your notes across multiple devices. You can create an account from scratch, or sign in with your Facebook or Google account.
Catch Notes utilizes spaces, which are essentially notebooks or folders, to collect notes. The app works on a freemium basis, and the free account allows you to create up to six spaces (the pro account allows 50). By default the app provides a space titled “My Ideas,” which is private (more on what that means in a bit). Accessing and creating other spaces is done by tapping the name of the current space in the left menu. From here, you can select another space, or tap the Create Space button and enter a name for the new space.
Notes & Tags
Creating a note in Catch Notes is initiated by tapping the + icon in the top right corner and selecting one of the many note types (text, checklists, photos, voice memo and reminders). If you begin typing a text note and decide you want to add a photo, voice memo or reminder after after the fact, you can do so by tapping the attachment icon in the top navigation bar and selecting the appropriate option. All of these options work really well except voice memos, which sound very low quality upon playback (check out this example I created).
An interesting sub-feature you can add while creating a note is tags, which are basically keywords or labels attached to a note. Creating tags in Catch Notes should be a familiar action for twitter users since they’re basically hashtags; so, if you wanted to add a “work” tag, you would simply type “#work” (capitalization isn’t important). This feature can be useful for users that create a lot of notes and want an easy way to filter by a specific tag, however, the use of hashtags to me seems just a bit weird to use when creating a note.
If you’re currently an Evernote user you’ll probably have noticed that Catch Notes includes many of the same features you’re familiar with. However, Catch Notes provides a rather big feature that’s nowhere to be found in Evernote, which are shared spaces. Your default (My Ideas) space is always private, but any created space can be shared by tapping the Share icon (which looks like two people overlapping) and entering the email of the person with whom you’d like to share.
The ability to share spaces is a great idea that really opens up the app for teams that want a free and easy way to access the same information. In my experience though, the system has a few quirks that make little sense. For starters, when you send/receive an invitation to share a space the notifications are only sent via email, even though the app has a notifications section and asks permissions to push notifications. Since you don’t receive a notification in app, you can only accept an invitation via email, which does direct you back to the app if the correct link is tapped (the email includes a web link and app link). It’s a very odd system that I hope gets a redesign in the near future.
The Bottom Line
Have the developers of Catch Notes done enough to make their app stand out from the sea of notes apps? Well, yes and no. Overall, Catch Notes is a very solid notes app that provides some very useful features. Adding notes is really simple and at no point did I ever feel lost in the UI; everything just made sense (excluding hashtags, which are still weird).
That being said, there are definitely a few missing features. A small, but important one that could be added is the ability to sort spaces in the Spaces Menu (they’re displayed in the order of their creation). The features that I miss most coming over from Evernote include rich text formatting (that allows you to bold, italicize, underline text), paragraph and header styles, bullet and numbered lists, and adding indentations. Without these features Catch Notes is a good notes app, but not necessarily a great one.