If there is one thing that college students do more than anything (besides drinking) it is taking notes. Five years after graduating, I still have a callous on my right ring finger from all the hand-written notes I took. If I had an iPad when I went to college, I’d have been so much more organized. PaperPort Notes is a productivity app that helps college students get organized and easily share information with others.
PaperPort Notes is the newest app from the makers of Dragon Dictation, and yes, speech-to-text is featured here. Not only that, but you can type, freehand write, record audio, add sticky notes, import PDFs or PowerPoint files and export all your notes.
Users start with their first document, which can be named and saved for later access. Each document looks like a yellow legal pad. You can select the keyboard and start typing away. Or, if you are close enough to the speaker, you could try using the speech-to-text option. While Dragon makes the best version of this feature, I wouldn’t recommend relying on it to take lecture notes. There are too many variables that could create garbled words.
If you feel more comfortable using traditional writing tools that eventually cause callouses, you can select the drawing tool. Adjust the thickness of the pen and start writing. You can use your finger, but for note taking, it is probably better to grab a stylus instead. PaperPort Notes has two types of pens, regular and highlighter. If you choose the highlighter option, you can double up the color by drawing a line, tapping another writing option, going back to the highlighter and redrawing over the same line. You can darken the ink multiple times this way.
To import PDFs or PPTs (PowerPoint files), tap the import button and select where you would like to import the document from. Choose from your PaperPort Anywhere account, the in-app Web browser, Box.net, Dropbox, or from your documents folder that you can load up using iTunes file sharing. You can annotate any file you import by using the freehand or highlighter feature. You can also add sticky notes to anything you import.
To export your notes as a PDF, tap the share button and select how you would like to share the file. You can select certain pages, or share the entire set of notes. Larger files take a lot longer to share. You can send things through your PaperPort Anywhere account, email, Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, or open the file in one of your other PDF readers, or print it out.
This is a very useful app. It incorporates a multitude of note-taking options that cost quite a bit of money in other apps. With all this has to offer, it is surprising that this app is free.
Normally, I don’t give a lot of credence to user reviews. However, there were a couple of comments saying that users lost all of their files and could not recover them. One user even said he was told by Nuance that they don’t offer tech support for free apps. This could be a serious problem if you are taking lecture notes for a test. I didn’t personally experience anything like that. However, I highly recommend being very careful and constantly backing up notes just to be safe.
What I liked: I like being able to record audio while typing notes. This can be very handy when sitting in on lectures.
What I didn’t like: The thought of losing all of your notes due to a bug in the app’s code seems like the worst possible scenario for a college student.
To buy or not to buy: This is a hard one. On the one hand, the app works great and has so much to offer for free that it is well-worth the download. On the other hand, you could lose everything. Since I never experienced a problem with this app, I’m going to recommend it, but with the caveat that you should back up your notes every time you use it.
- App Name: PaperPort Notes
- Version Reviewed: 1.3.1
- Category: Games
- Developer: Nuance Communications
- Price: Free