Recently we tried the Notability App for the iPad. My husband was in the middle of a job search and he used it next to his computer to make notes. He really liked using it and I thought it was a neat app so I decided to try it too. I am glad I did.
Downloading the App
The App is available on iTunes for $1.99 When my husband got it, he somehow got it for free, but I was not so lucky. I had no issues downloading the app and everything seems to work fine. I have experienced no crashes while using it and it has been flawless for my husband as well.
The App is only available for the iPad at this time. It is made by Ginger Labs. and uses 44.2 MB of space on your device. I am guessing that as you save files that number will grow.
Notability does a lot of helpful tasks so when you get started it opens up with a tutorial that explains all the basics and has you do the tasks to learn how to use the app. I think the tutorial is very well designed.
Portrait or Landscape: This app can be used in both Portrait or landscape simply by turning your iPad to the side. You can lock it in one position if you want in your iPad settings.
Pencil: You can write on the App by using one finger or a stylus. There are two types of strokes. One fades at the end and the other trails off. There are also 12 point sizes to choose from and 16 colors
Typing: There is a t sign that will open up the keyboard at the bottom of the screen for typing. You can type on screen or if you have a bluetooth keyboard you can use that.
Highlighter: The highlighter has the same settings as the Pencil except the colors are lighter. If you use the highlighter you will still see your original writing but it will be affected slightly by the highlighter.
Eraser: To erase tap the eraser and you will see a white mark being made on the paper. It is kind of neat that the eraser will show a white erasure mark even if you are using cream or colored paper but once you are done erasing you will just see the color of the paper coming through. It seems that any touch of the eraser will erase a whole stroke rather than just the area you rub. For example: I wrote my name Becky all in one stroke. Then I tapped the eraser on it, and it deleted the entire thing. So be careful with the eraser.
If you make a mistake: There is a small arrow at the top of the screen that curves off to the left. If you click that you can undo and redo any mark you have made. It only goes back for a couple actions.
Scrolling: To scroll you need to use two fingers. If you have two fingers on the iPad it will not leave any marks but it will allow you to scroll and enlarge or make your screen smaller. For this reason if you are trying to write on your iPad make sure that you do not have your hand leaning on it in any way.
Zoom: You can tap the magnifying glass in the lower left or just press and hold the screen and that portion will show in an area at the bottom of the screen. I am not sure why I would want to use this except perhaps to add detail to a drawing or something. I really have not found it necessary to use this.
This would probably be helpful if you were taking notes or drawing a diagram and wanted to add a note. You could open up the large box and write your note and then when you closed it it would be too small to read but when you went back to it you could enlarge that area to read your notes.
Record: The app has a record function also, if you use it and wanted to record a sound clip it will record it and if you save the file it will save the sound clip with your page. You can play it back at any time. I do not use this generally but it could be really neat to use if you were taking notes and wanted to record a portion of a lecture to play back. I am not sure what the limitations are as far as how long it will record. I really only used it once or twice while trying out the App.
Use a Stylus: I find that it is easiest to use Notability with a stylus rather than your finger. You do not have to but I find it easier to use. I do like to write with the stylus but use my fingers to scroll.
Files: There is a little book shelf looking icon on the top left. This is where your notes are saved. Tap the bookshelf to see all your notes or to start a new note.
Start a new Note: Press the bookshelf icon and then you can press the paper sign at the top right to open up a new piece of paper. Once you open a new page there are many options. Press the plus sign at the top to discover how to add stickies to your page or a variety of other options. There are many options within that plus sign so make sure to explore them all for endless possibilities.
Settings: If you click the settings icon which looks like a little wrench you will see options for read only which protects you from altering your note. You will also see paper which gives you different colors, lines, and graphs for setting up a new note.
You can choose from 15 different colored papers, four sizes of graph paper, and four sizes of lined papers. You can also choose to just have a paper with no lines or graph marks.
Also in the setting screen you will find a Notability User Guide. Consult this to get the most out of the App.
Saving a Note: Notes are saved automatically and can be found in the bookshelf icon. To delete a note locate it in the files and swipe your finger or stylus from right side inward and you will see a “delete” icon appear. Click that to delete the item from your files.
Import: There is an import icon that says it will import from dropbox, google drive, Box, or WebDAV. I have to admit that I have no idea what these things are and have not tried to import anything. I really just got this app for the notepad feature but wanted to mention this feature was available. You can import something to the App and then manipulate it or add it to your notes.
Share a Note: You can share your notes by tapping the share icon on the top right of the bookshelf screen. You are able to share in Email, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, WebDAV, Print, iTunes, or open with another App.
Ease of Use: I felt that Notability was easy to figure out. Like I mentioned there are some things that it does that I am not utilizing but this is an app that you can use as little or as much as you want. It is good for basic scribbling, to much more complex tasks. I actually also enjoyed drawing pictures on my iPad with all the fun drawing tools. Do not be afraid of this App, the tutorial will walk you through getting started and you will be using it like a pro in no time.
Comparing Notability to an Actual Pad and Paper
I am not sure if Notability will ever completely replace a pen and paper, but it does have it’s place. One nice thing about Notability compared to a pad and paper is that you have all the digital tools such as different tipped pens with a variety of colors, including highlighters. You also have the option of typing. You can also erase digitally. If you had a pad of paper, you would need a box of hundreds of pens and highlighters to be equal to what this app can do.
In addition to what you can do on Notability, there is also paper and ink savings. You may spend $1.99 once for the App but imagine how much it would cost to buy all those tools plus paper to last you for years to come. While this App will not eliminate the need for a pen and paper, I can see that I will be using less paper and ink and more Notability!
Final thoughts and Rating
Notability gets 5 stars for everything I have used it for. I know that it can do things that I have not even felt the need to do so this App deserves the high rating.