May3

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Notability App Screen ExampleI was about to write up a post on the Notability App for iPad as a useful note taking and annotation tool. Then I started to peer about and saw a few resources already out there that will give you a good idea of the features and possibility.

Before I link to those resources, I’ll just add a couple of points below. (I know there are a few negative ones here, but don’t let them scare you off.)

1. First, Being a fan of Evernote, I tried using their Penultimate app which is billed as a “handwriting app.” While it has some very nice features and is free, the lack of any ability to type is a deal breaker for me when it comes to note-taking.

I have a fairly neat handwriting in real life, but on a tablet there is a point when handwriting sloppiness kicks in and typing wins. Notability’s ability to include typewritten text means win.

Tactical iPad Cover
2. In the Notability app, I find selecting objects is sometimes hard to do and takes me many finger mashes. Also, even though I have the long slender fingers of an artistic 19th century consumptive, for the life of me I cannot get the Page Up/Down to work most of the time – especially since my iPad is usually in a Tactical iPad Cover.

3. Following on that – for any note taking app I would strongly recommend getting a tablet stylus to use for screen drawing. I find using an index finger to draw on an iPad both tiring and cumbersome in general. When it comes to annotation of documents and drawings, a pen is even more useful for clarity and accuracy  in selection.

The jury is out on my finding one that I love, but I CAN tell you that Slim Jim jerky snacks are not the answer.

4. Various types of media can be added to any note, including photos (from your library or take one on the fly), web clips, sticky notes, and figures. I tend to use figures most often when taking notes. My work usually has me identifying things by type and I like to use various colors and shapes to do so.

However, I find the figure creation and editing features a bit annoying. When you create a figure it is done in a separate page from the active note page and then is inserted when you press Done. I find that disconcerting, and adds another step to the process since you then have to move the figure to where you want it and often resize it. Also, creating even a small figure means a giant rectangle of whitespace is inserted along with the figure. I am not sure what the value is in that.

5. Audio notes: Nice in the field when you are walking through a location.

Q. Postings online have various prices listed – as of this writing, the app is a steal for $1.99.

So, now: On to two video recommendations that each do a nice job of going through Notability features:

For a more genealogical slant on the app, check out Using an iPad for Genealogy Conferences – Notability, posted by Jennifer Patterson Dondero. (Visit her site at http://www.jpgenealogy.com)

While there is some overlap, I also recommend Notability on the iPad from EdTechTeacher on Vimeo. They have a TON of useful videos out there, so be sure to click on their username and shop around.

Notability on the iPad from EdTechTeacher on Vimeo.

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