- Editor's Rating
By Jen Edwards
Daily Notes for iPad is a free-form note-taking and journaling app that can be used in a variety of ways. It offers organizational features such as tags and simple sharing by PDF and email as well as searches. It is currently available for $4.99 in the Apple App Store.
At its most basic, Daily Notes for iPad is nothing more than a blank screen upon which to type your notes, with a calendar strip running across the top of the page. Just tap on the screen to get started, and the keyboard will pop up automatically. Type in your notes, thoughts, and ideas so that you can get everything out of your head without having to use a pile of those little sticky notes that are so easily lost.
Features and Controls
The main screen of Daily Notes may look simple, but there is a lot going in here. At the top of the screen you’ll see the months of the year, plus a small home icon to the right of the December tab — that one will quickly bring you back to today’s date, if necessary.
Just below you’ll find the days of the month; you can tap on any one of them to go straight to that day. Saturday and Sunday are marked in red, to provide extra visual cues. The days on which you have entered notes are marked with a small dot underneath the letter representing the day. Just below that is the data entry area, which takes up the majority of the screen.
There are several more controls under the data entry area. The first allows you to email the current note, which is great for sharing class or meeting notes with colleagues, for example. The next is for adding tags to your notes, which is the main means of organization. There are a few predefined tags, such as confirm, delete, important, reference, and “to do”. You can also define your own tags, which is especially important if you’re using Daily Notes as part of your GTD system. Each tab could then be a project, with tags to mark contexts and next actions.
The left and right arrows are used for navigation, moving you one day forward or back for each tap. I found that using the calendar strip at the top of the page was much faster, but it’s nice to have a choice. The final icon, the filmstrip, takes you to a summary page for the tab where all of the entries are presented sequentially. From here you can search all of the notes within the tab, if you’re looking for something specific.
Along the right side of the screen you’ll find the Settings icon, and then a series of tabs. Tapping the Settings icon brings up a page with all of the appearance settings; here you can choose from one of twenty different fonts and three different sizes, as well as ten different color themes. The large X at the bottom of that window deletes the tab, the next, marked on and off, is what you use to hide the tab, and then up and down arrows are used to reorder the tabs.
If you would like to create a new tab, tap the plus arrow just above the first tab. That allows you to create different areas of the journal for different areas of your life: work, personal, specific projects, or whatever you like. If you need to rename a particular tab, double-tap that tab.
The last tab is always the Search tab, and this one presents all of your notes in order, across tabs and not within them. It also comes with a few extra controls, such as the ability to send all of your notes together as a PDF, or to filter your notes by tag or by tab. Please note that if you have chosen to hide a particular tab, the notes in that tab are not included on the Search tab; you must go back to the app settings to unhide the tab.
If you need even more security than the rudimentary hiding of a single tab, you can set a four digit PIN code for Daily Notes which must then be entered every single time you launch the app. It obviously won’t prevent a determined attack on your privacy, but it will prevent a casual intrusion — such as your child trying to spoil a birthday gift surprise.
Performance and Ease of Use
As apps go, Daily Notes for iPad is extremely simple, but I wasn’t able to unleash the full power of the app until I spent a few minutes with the user guide. It’s nicely detailed, with screenshots and captions explaining every function of the program.
One very positive note is that the developer obviously cares a great deal about his users, and actively requests feedback and feature requests. A small “bug” icon on the top left corner of the screen is always available, and pressing it brings up an email message ready to fill with your questions and concerns. At this point I don’t have anything to say to the developer, because Daily Notes works perfectly. There were no crashes or slowdowns of any kind — it just works, and does exactly what it is advertised to do.
In the Apple App Store, clicking on the developer web site link goes straight to a Twitter page for the Daily Notes developer. That seems a little strange at first, but then again some of the best customer service I’ve received in recent memory was while tweeting back and forth with a company. When I went back through the timeline I saw a developer that is actively engaged with his customers. That is unfortunately rather rare these days, when so many developers rely on support forums where users answer each others’ questions instead of receiving direct support.
With a price tag of $4.99, Daily Notes fits into a “sweet spot” — you tend to expect more of the app because it costs a little bit more than the 99 cent shovelware that is flooding the App Store, but not so much that you’re not willing to take a chance on it.
Considering that it brings back the “right-hand page” of the day planner that I have missed so much since making the switch to electronic planning, it’s worth the cost. Sure, I could just use the built-in Notes app, but it doesn’t offer tagging, automatic date stamps for each entry, or advanced organization.
After using Notes for a while, I had a pile of individual notes, and it quickly became difficult to find exactly what I wanted when I had to refer back to something from a few weeks or months ago. If you’re even slightly disorganized, or if you’re trying to juggle several different roles at once, just one quick retrieval in Daily Notes is likely worth the price of admission.
When I first started using Daily Notes for iPad, I wasn’t all that impressed, but that’s because it takes a while to discover all of the features it offers. And of course note taking apps are only as good as their ability to help you retrieve those notes quickly, when you really need them.
With Daily Notes, I finally feel like I have the “other half” of an effective planning solution. Used in conjunction with a good calendar and task management app, Daily Notes helps me to capture all of those loose bits of information that would otherwise be trapped on a sticky note or simply lost forever, because I never wrote it down in the first place. I recommend it highly because it is both highly customizable and extremely effective, and all of that power comes at a very reasonable price indeed.