Your smartphone and tablet make ideal tools for jotting down notes, reminders, checklists and sudden brainstorms. While iOS devices and Android phones come with some sort of basic text editor, dedicated note taking apps such as Evernote have exploded in popularity, leading Apple to improve its Notes app and Google to release its own Keep alternative. Check out 15 of the best note taking apps available on the App Store and Google Play. (Credit: Robie Online/Shutterstock)
Evernote (Android, iOS) is one of the first apps that comes to mind when it comes to note taking, and for good reason. It provides a feature-rich note taking service that syncs across multiple devices and platforms, making sure that your notes, photos and other documents are always at your fingertips, whether you're on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Tagged notebook organization, support for photos, videos, to-do lists and more make Evernote a versatile note taking solution, though it is more complex then minimalist solutions. The free Basic plan has a limit of 60MB of new uploads each month, while paid Plus and Premium accounts increase your monthly limits and add other features.
Microsoft's OneNote (Android, iOS) is another strong option, especially if you're looking for a note taking solution that integrates closely with Office. Users can type or dictate notes and checklists, attach photos or PDFs, send emails or clip web content. Once uploaded, you can sort your content through a notebooks system, with sections, tags and text search to help you easily keep track of your notes. Cloud syncing means that your content is automatically available on all your connected devices. OneNote has tons of extras, including collaboration features, Android Wear and TouchID support, though again, some would call that feature bloat for an app about quickly jotting down notes.
Apple's own Notes is an iCloud-powered aims more for a middle ground, with a clean and simple note taking interface that can take formatted text, dictation, drawings (with Apple Pencil support on the iPaD) images, web snippets and file attachments. Users can organize notes and attachments in a folder system and search for text, and all of your notes are synced across your iCloud devices. You can also password-protect your notes (or unlock them with TouchID).
Where many note keeping services focus on rich feature sets, Google Keep (Android, iOS) tries to do the opposite, aiming for a fairly simple cloud note taking app that still supports a wide variety of inputs such as text notes, checklists, audio and photos. Notes and to-dos are displayed in a card format reminiscent of sticky notes, and each note can be tagged, colored or set with a time or location-based reminder.
MyScript's Nebo is a feature-rich note-taking app built with handwriting and active stylus devices like the Apple Pencil and the Samsung S Pen in mind. Using MyScript's Interactive Ink tech, Nebo parses your handwritten notes into text, while allowing you to easily format your notes, add extras like emphasis, underlining, bullet points, mathematical notations, and picture annotation. Users can write equations and calculate or export to LaTeX, export into Microsoft Office documents or text files, and search through your notes to find something you've scribbled down. If you're more about jotting down notes as opposed to typing them down, MyScript Nebo is an incredibly versatile note taking tool. Originally an iPad exclusive, Nebo has since expanded to include a Windows 10 version for Surface Pen, as well as an Android version for devices that use active stylus peripherals.
Born from Dropbox's acquisition of HackPad, Dropbox Paper (Android, iOS) is a note taking app with collaboration and teamwork in mind. Users can create and edit shared documents and task lists, add comments and revisions, videos, links, images or audio, all in a shared workspace that comes with notifications and plays well with Dropbox's cloud storage organization. Dropbox Paper provides the option for clean collaborative note taking and media-rich documents and workspaces, without having the clutter of a more robust mobile word processor. It's an interesting option to consider if you need simple note taking for a work group, especially for one that already uses Dropbox.
Bear is a flexible writing and note-taking app that works great for jotting down quick notes, doodles, poetry and prose or even snippets of code. Focus mode lets you get right down to business, and a markup editor supports 20 different programming languages. Inline image and photo support combined with Apple Pencil and hand sketching makes adding scribbles, doodles, and illustrations a simple task. Bear also includes cross-note links, and tag support for easy searching. A pro subscription — $1.49 per month or $14.99 annually — includes note syncing, export options for multiple file types and extra editing tools.