My thoughts: Notability vs Goodnotes
**EDIT: I ENDED UP JUST USING ONENOTE.**
Hey everyone, I know a lot of you still go through that annoying decision when it comes to finding the right note-taking app and I came to make it even more annoying.
For context: I’m a pre-service teacher (10 months away from graduating as a Science Teacher), so I’m in University and I also do tutoring on the side so I use my iPad Pro 11″ (With Apple KB) alongside my MBP for both Work and study. I originally started with OneNote many years ago .. Then moved to Notability when I got my iPad Pro, used it for a while and gave Goodnotes a try. So I figured I may as well give my thoughts/experiences to help those who are maybe trying to find the right one out of these two. Also to highly suggest checking OneNote, Noteshelf 2, Zoomnotes, Bear etc (I haven’t yet but heard their great).
**What I liked:**
+ I love the smoothness of this app. It just glides through everything.. It feels so snappy and even when I import large PDFs it just feels like butter.
+ The split screen view is really handy, I don’t find it as appealing on the smaller sized iPads ( <11″) since it can feel too crammed but I imagine with the 12.9″ iPP users it would be epic.
+ Very simplistic to use. Anyone can figure out how to use Notability and start writing.
+ The writing ink engine feels natural and really nice to use.
+ The gestures are so fluent and easy to use like swiping left for the note switcher.
+ The automatic backup as well as the different platforms (Google, Dropbox etc).
+ The Mac client is decent.
+ Typing in Notability is really good, you have bullet points, tabbing, favourite fonts etc.
+ Recording audio notes was surprisingly useful!
+ Being able to text and hand-write at the same time !!
**What I didn’t like so much:**
– I really dislike the interface of Notability. By interface, I mean the entire organisation system.. When you have a few notes its perfectly fine, but when you start to pile up a lot of notes it can get messy very quickly. I hate how I’m limited to only Divider –> Subject.. and I can’t make any subfolders or anything. I just have a stack of subjects on the left and it gives me anxiety.
– While the Mac client works, for the money they are asking for – I kinda expected it to be slightly better especially compared to the iPad app. It’s not bad, it’s just not the greatest.
– The simplicity is a double edged sword – its great that its so easy and simple to use, but the limited customisation can sometimes be frustrating when you need/want it such as more inking options.
+ The highlighter.
**What I liked:**
+ The organisation is REALLY nice (if you like it this way), you can make folders and sub-folders to your hearts content – it was a pleasure organising my notes this way. The design also felt very ‘apple-like’ and matched my Macs folder icons, a nice touch.
+ I found ink writing felt more natural and with the extra options that were offered I was able to find the right one.
+ I prefer the design interface overall of Goodnotes 5. I posted a link earlier and someone thought it was MS Word.. Which I really like. Goodnotes feels like I’m using a Digital notebook where as apps like Notability feel like I’m using ..Well an app.
+ Little shortcuts that made a difference to everyday note-taking .. Having saved different pen options, easily dragging in photos and what I LOVED was the “disable eraser when done” option – this is such an underrated feature.
+ The highlighter is great.
+ The customisation is unreal, you can download whatever template you want from the internet and use it, the amount of different styles of papers, covers etc is just crazy! It truly does let you make it feel like your own digital notebook.
+ The tabbing system is really nice and easy to just switch back and fourth – I preferred this over the split screen that Notability offers when using it on a small screen like an 11″ as I prefer to use one note on the entire display.
**What I didn’t like so much:**
**-** The typing experience in Goodnotes just felt so disappointing. Every time I had to type (which is a lot), I would have to select a text box which isn’t locked in the page and often when I’m scrolling down I’d accidentally move the text box and have to rearrange it every time.. I found it very distracting and basically ruined the experience for me. There is also no built in tabbing, bullet points.. It feels very “handwriting only”.
– The lack of a Mac app. GN4 was removed from the App Store as it was getting a re-design and the developers did put out a developer beta option for the Goodnotes 5 App.. It was decent and did the job but you could not even edit text on it !!! Also they have terminated the plan in favour of Project Catalyst (Apple’s new app program).
– It can sometimes feel laggy/jerky especially when scrolling through large PDFs.
– Not being able to text and hand-write at the same time. Typing away – then pulling out the pencil, clicking on the Pencil icon to write then tapping the Text icon again and tapping the screen on the spot I was writing on. It takes a few extra seconds but it makes a difference when you do it so much.
**TLDR:** Honestly they are both such fantastic apps and you can’t go wrong with either. If I didn’t use my KB and just used this simply for note-taking ONLY then I’d stick with Goodnotes5. However, I use the KB and type a lot alongside with my Apple Pencil for taking notes.. In this case I found Notability just easier to use and more efficient, despite me much preferring the overall design, inking engine, organisation and customisation that Goodnotes 5 has to offer.