There are two types of app shoppers: those who own all the note taking apps in existence in hopes of finding “the one” and those who still scribble reminders on the back of a receipt with a broken pencil. With its flexible, yet structured UI, Projectbook has the potential to appeal to both groups. Productivity apps are a crowded field — check out our weekly app list for some great apps to stay organized in college — but Projectbook, billed as a one-stop-shop for note taking, drawing, and outlining definitely merits consideration.
I’m usually skeptical of get-things-done apps, particularly after the advent of iCloud sync for Apple’s Calendar and Reminders. Productivity apps also tend to sacrifice user experience in favor of nearly endless options, but fortunately Projectbook doesn’t fall into this trap.
Projectbook offers a useful overview of the Notes and To Do sections as soon as the user opens the app. These overviews set a tone that carries through the app’s structure. Users feel like Projectbook really wants them to stay focused, rather than challenging a user to crack through an inscrutable UI like a squirrel tackling an acorn.
The application integrates iOS-style swipe-to-delete functions, and offers other intuitive options such as rearranging bullets in an outline by dragging any bullet point. Tapping the action key in the upper-right lets the user see “similar notes,” which will come in handy when it’s time to study for mid-terms.
The app’s keyboard adds a number of useful upgrades such as arrow keys, bullet lists, and font choices to the iPad’s standard keyboard. With the magic “Make To-do” button (the √+ button on the keyboard menu) users can add any typed text to their to-do list with one tap. It also turns those items into to-dos in the note itself. Users can create presets of fonts and colors for “normal” text as well as headings, subheading, and two additional custom fields, which has the potential to work as a study aid for students using the app to memorize large amounts of terms or vocabulary.
Users can draw on the app’s white Notes background with a variety of pen colors. It’s also easy to either take a photo or add one from the photo library, and then draw on that photo. Users can also record audio within a note. In my limited testing the audio quality was scratchy, but users who are determined to make this function work can probably tweak settings to get better results.
Users can integrate Pocket or Instapaper accounts through the app’s settings, as well as access documents from Dropbox. Importing files through Dropbox was seamless. This function allows the user to read but not edit PDFs, however, so if a user is shopping for an app with robust PDF function, Projectbook isn’t the best choice.
Projectbook tries to simplify organization by automating the process. Once the user enters keywords into a folder, the app files related notes automatically.
Projectbook’s to-do list is really easy to customize. Users can plan to-dos in advance then Projectbook will automatically add them to the Today list when the specified date arrives. It’s also easy to make sub-categories, which will appeal to users who like to structure lists and check off boxes. Simply typing TD at the start of an email subject line will send task straight to the to-do list.
Thanks to a recent update, users can now print notes from an AirPrint enabled printer.
See Projectbook in action here.
Download Projectbook from the App Store for the introductory price of $1.99. Projectbook plans to expand this fall, allowing users to sync to mobile phones and desktops, which would tremendously expand its utility.
What I liked: Projectbook’s UI makes sense. The app’s notes and to-do sections beg to be used. The built-in color palates for the drawing template were a nice touch.
What I didn’t like: Users who want to handwrite or draw as a primary means of input might prefer to use a different app, but for light work Projectbook is fine. To integrate email into the app, Projectbook encourages users to create a new IMAP email just for Projectbook. If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s another niche email account. I would have preferred that the app simply assign me an address.
To buy or not to buy: At its current sale price of $1.99 Pocketbook offers students a powerful tool for organizing notes. Heavy Pocket or Instapaper users will benefit from the app’s integration of those services, and anyone who found Evernote daunting may prefer Projectbook’s implicit structure. Once cross-platform integration arrives, Projectbook has the potential to live up to its one-stop-shop claim.
- App Name: Projectbook
- Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
- Category: Productivity
- Developer: Theory IO Corp
- Price: Introductory $1.99, Full price $6.99