The Problems With OneNote

July 14, 2013

If there’s one thing that the iPad doesn’t have a lack of, it’s note taking apps. And if there’s one thing I cannot get enough of, it’s note taking apps. I am always interested in trying the current and greatest. It’s growing a severe trouble, since I do not need a brand-new note taking app. In truth, each time a brand-new one turns up, I shake my head. Even though I have got a workflow I actually like already, I am compelled to try it.

When I’d the opportunity to take a look at Microsoft OneNote’s 2.0 update, I immediately bore in mind just how much I took pleasure in the desktop computer app about 2 years ago. This was an app that singlehandedly got me with many of my 2nd and third years of university. So although I am satisfied with my workflow, I’d to check it out. What if OneNote could interrupt which I have already got? Continue reading to find out if it delivers the buzz.

Getting Started

After logging in with my Windows Live account credentials – yes, you’ll require a Windows account and SkyDrive – I lookinged at the tutorial file for about 10 minutes. In all sincerity, I was puzzled. Why could not I just set up a note pad and start? So after digging around and tapping a lot of buttons in downright futility, I lastly discovered the Aid– oddly tucked, for reference, in the Sync menu. As it ends up, you should use an internet browser or the desktop computer OneNote app to establish a new Notebook or Area.

I stared at this document forever. Nowhere in it does it provide advise on how to start organizing yourself in the app.

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I stared at this paper permanently. Nowhere in it does it offer encourage on how to start organizing yourself in the app.

At that point, I was just grateful there was support for notebooks and sections in the app someplace. After spending an additional half hour trying to identify where to go on the internet, I lastly got a brand-new note pad and a number of areas set up and handled to get to work. So far, I wasn’t amazed.

What OneNote’s For

OneNote is basically for fancy note taking. The app sustains just about everything you can ever before think about adding to a note, including tables, charts, images, lists, bullet points and more. It’s got a sync function that makes sure the app works together with OneNote across all different platforms, and it’s indicated to be perfectly integrated with the newest Office Suites.

As you can see in the Help menu, the iPad app is not a one-stop shop for OneNote.

As you can see in the Help menu, the iPad app is not a one-stop shop for OneNote.

The app likewise has a special organizational design. As soon as you set up a notebook and a few sections, you could make this an excellent means to take course notes. However again, you ‘d have to establish a notebook and areas before visiting course (or a business meeting) with the iPad. So at the end of the day, you are still better off bringing a notebook in case you’ve to make changes on the fly.

The app breaks down into notebooks, areas and pages though, each serving as a subfolder of sorts to the various other. You can have multiple pages in each section and multiple sections in each notebook. So if you wanted to utilize OneNote to take note of your clients, you could produce an area for each customer and then specific pages for each project – or go even more generally than that and offer each customer a note pad with various sections for projects and pages for detailed notes and work. I really like the organizational system, however I wish it was something I can change more on my iPad.

Technically speaking, the app does allow you to get relatively organized.

Technically speaking, the app does allow you to get relatively organized.

This weekend, I was on getaway. All I brought was my iPhone and my iPad mini. If I’d to produce a brand-new note pad or area, I’d have needed to resort to the SkyDrive web app. While it’s not impossible to do that, it’s certainly not satisfying, and I’d have felt cheated.

The Microsoft Touch

I want the troubles with the app ended there, though, since there’s some terrific principles here that must make the app worth using and checking out. Instead, though, I discovered myself adding a huge list of major design imperfections that I rarely have to worry about with various other note-taking apps.

The menus are endless and seemingly buried beneath each other. It's not what I'd call intuitive.

The menus are limitless and apparently buried below each other. It’s not exactly what I’d call user-friendly.

A great deal of buttons gave me time out. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I stopped depending on Microsoft software application back in the Leopard days of OS X, but I couldn’t determine exactly what many of them did without trying out. For much better or for worse, Microsoft’s packed navigation bars haven’t altered in years, and they just haven’t gotten much easier to navigate with time. Regrettably, even once I figured out which I was doing, I hadn’t been happy with the app.

Questionable Design Decisions

Why’s it that text appears to populate in text boxes? Why’s that tables are readied to be a pre-defined size that I cannot broaden with my finger? Why can I zoom in and from any note for no reason, and why can I tap practically anywhere and wind up with the most absurd looking notes you have ever before seen? What’s the point of the mysterious enigma in the leading right edge?

Why can I zoom out like this and add text and images anywhere? What's the point? Who's this helping?

Why can I zoom out like this and add text and images anywhere? What’s the point? Who’s this assisting?

And when I began to reconstruct solutions to some of those concerns, I scratched my head a little more. The strange enigma is a searchable tag, however I cannot select which tag I desire fast and simple access to. Despite the fact that Microsoft’s app aspires to let individuals do anything they desire within the context of a note, I’ve to wonder why I am unable to customize or create my own tags. Why can’t I alter the default font?

Most irritatingly, at least to me, is this question: why’s Microsoft still making their app like a word processing program for print, like Word, rather of making it like the digital note keeper it’s supposed to be?

For a 2.0 Product…

Everything brand-new in 2.0, like tables, automatic sync with SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint, complete page see and a supposedly updated UI should’ve been right here in the 1.0 release – specifically sync and full page view. In fact, I think calling this a 2.0 launch is granting it too much merit in light of a few of the other troubles the app still has.

Some things are a bit of a chore. Take typing, for example.

Some things are a bit of a chore. Take typing, for example.

One is that the app delays on both my iPad mini and my third-generation iPad with Retina screen. I am troubled by the app’s font selections, which typically look crummy on both my devices – even the spacing in between words can differ. It’s amateur. There’s a discernable latency duration in between when I tap a key on the digital keyboard and when the character in fact appears onscreen.

The app does have a relatively useful list feature, a la Evernote.

The app does have a reasonably helpful list feature, a la Evernote.

I’ll state this: The app is fantastic for a student with an economical laptop computer or desktop computer and an iPad. I’d some pals in university who’d bring simply an iPad to course, and OneNote – with its easily bulleted lists – is really functional for that.

Final Thoughts

But I’ve to wonder why one would make use of OneNote at all in today’s app climate. It needs the use of a web app to establish exactly what’re basically glorified folders and papers. Its font rendering is difficult to check out and the lag I experienced when I was entering made it a less-than-desirable experience. It needs a SkyDrive account, which is cost-free, but normally convoluted.

Finally, its design makes the app hard to use. It’s not a simple procedure to get around in your notes. I comprehend the predicament many individuals confront with note taking apps – honestly, that there are a lot of and it’s hard to discover one that fits your requirements – however I think the majority of individuals who are not sworn into Microsoft’s ecological community would be much better served with something like Evernote, Notability or CourseNotes.

The thing about OneNote is that it doesn’t address an issue for anyone outside of Microsoft’s ecosystem. And if you are still so tied into it that you need OneNote, wouldn’t you be much better served with a Surface than an iPad to start with?