Think of talking notes that takes notes by recording audio. All notes apps take notes, but not every notes apps has talking notes. We take notes from the old fashioned way– pencil and paper– to digital apps on Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
A growing trend is to take notes by recording the audio of a meeting, presentation, or lecture, and simply writing down the highlights at the same time. I’ve been using a Mac utility which was born a few years ago on the iPad. It’s a notes taking app called Notability which lets you take notes many different ways; handwriting, keyboard, audio, sketch and draw, import and annotate files– all at almost the same time if you choose.
Think of everything you might like in a notes taking app and you’ll find it in Notability. Type, write, sketch, record audio, draw, annotate, and– most importantly– take notes on Mac and sync them up with Notability on iPad and iPhone.
The Mac version is the newest of the trio (interface is a bit different on iPhone vs. iPad versions), but having a real keyboard and extra screen real estate cannot be understated as value. Drag and drop is your friend. Drag photos, audio clips, documents, sketches, and the like– right to the Notability note. For typing, text flows around images, desktop publisher style.
Add and change fonts as needed, or sketch with pens and colors, and style as needed. Now, here’s what put me over the top– Notability links notes with the audio recording. When you record audio of a meeting, presentation, or lecture, and take notes at the same time, the notes playback with the audio– in sync.
Speaking of sync, notes can be synced via iCloud, but my preference these days is Dropbox or GoogleDrive, which appear to be more stable. Files can also be exchanged to other Notability users via AirDrop and the macOS and iOS sharing pane.
Notability is one of those Mac apps that comes with a gentle learning curve. It’s easy to get started, but there’s lots going on in the interface so start slowly. The iPad version is my favorite– other than the lack of a real keyboard (a Mac’s keyboard can be noisy in a meeting or presentation). The iPad version is more intuitive. The iPhone version feels a bit cramped but works well.
Other than the learning curve to understand all Notability can do, the only real negative is the lack of a try-before-you-buy version.