Note taking has evolved quite significantly in the recent past. With the introduction of the iPad Pro & Microsoft Surface tablet series, we have a whole new range of productivity tools at our disposal.
But why do we need it? What’s wrong with just pen & paper?
The problem with handwritten notes…
• Too many notebooks
After so many years of annotating, I’ve come to a point that I can no longer remember which notes are in which notebooks. This stuff can’t be indexed without sinking too much time in doing so. This is a significant loss because now a lot of insights lie useless in my notes. One way to solve this was to foolishly scan all my old notebooks & “digitise” them for future reference.
I’ve come to heavily rely upon Evernote’s ability recognise my handwriting into searchable notes.
It almost felt like a superpower for a while or like an episode from Black Mirror where I could suddenly get access to all my notes & insights without having someone to transcribe them for me. My memory suddenly got extended.
Well, the software does make some notes searchable when I could scan stuff on a flatbed scanner.
But many times due to lack of time or laziness or both, I use my phone to take a snap of my notes & upload to Evernote. That means inconsistent quality & a illusion of archiving without the ability to retrieve notes on demand. So I started tagging notes but it just takes too much time on an on-going basis and I’ve to remember it each time when I save a note.
• Annotations in Annual Reports
Who has the time to maintain separate notes for all the annual reports read? I love Evernote’s ability to store annotated PDF’s but for that I need to access the annual report on my computer. It takes away the scanning problem but introduces a problem of relying on annotation tools by pdf readers on PC’s / Macs which are clunky at best. To be honest, I always felt they were good as a workaround.
Welcome the iPad Pro.
Without sounding like an Apple fanboy, well, who am I kidding! iPad Pro is the best thing that has ever happened to my note taking experience. It’s as revolutionary for me as the Kindle e-reader. I’ve shifted more than 90% of my book reading to Kindle, in the same way, since I bought my iPad Pro 10.5” along with the Apple Pencil, I’ve not touched a piece of paper to write on. It has truly fulfilled my needs to go paperless especially for annotations on pdf’s & note taking. For someone who loves to write & has been a self proclaimed lover of fountain pens, I don’t miss my fountain pen anymore. The Apple Pencil & the iPad Pro have taken experience of note taking to a whole new level. However, this can only be done with the help of some apps.
Enter – Nebo.
Nebo is perhaps the only app of it’s kind which allows me to seamlessly transcribe my handwritten notes, wait for it, while I’m writing them. It’s transcription algo is so awesome it just takes the whole effort of searching through notes (handwritten & scanned) go away. I can just copy my handwritten & digitally transcribed notes to Evernote & they’re stored there, till Evernote exists. The productivity gains it provides not only saves time, but also helps me forget about the drudgery of scanning my notes & transcribing unrecognisable bits of handwriting. To be honest, this entire post has been written & edited using Nebo & I’ve written it by hand. May the force be with old school long form writing.
There are many more apps I use which take full advantage of Apple Pencil’s technology for example:
(for free form writing without transcribing & also capable of recording audio, great for interviews)
PDF Viewer / Adobe Reader
(Storing & Annotating PDF’s which can then be stored in Evernote foreverrrrr)
There are many more variants for some of these apps & which are equally good. I’m just done with the functionality these provide.
If you’re a drawing enthusiast like me you’ll also love the tactile feel or the Apple Pencil & drawing with it. It does take a little getting used to but it’s scalable & gives ease of storing files.
One pro-tip for writing on a glass screen:
Get a matte screen guard. It feels just like paper.