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Ultimate iPad Guide: Note Taking & Idea Apps for Architects

Our listing guide for Note Taking and Ideas apps on iPad for architects includes a dozen top ranked apps that are sometimes well known, sometimes not!

Note Taking & Idea Apps for Architects on iPad

We have bundled these two types of tools together because there can often be quite a lot of overlap. Some mindmapping apps have note-taking abilities and vice versa. Others include list and tasks management and so we have those apps listed here also. There are literally thousands of these types of apps and hundreds could be applied to the work of an architect. What we have done is tried to find the best of the bunch and most interesting.

Maybe the best note-taking app in existence is Notability (see image 01). This 4 1/2 star app is highly reviewed and rated and has great cloud-service options. These days your data needs to live everywhere, so a great cloud service option is key.

01 - Notability is a very full-featured note-taking, ideas management and capture app with super cloud options.

02 - Even David Allen admires this GTD-compliant tasks manager. This app is one of the better to-do apps out there.

03 - SoundNote records audio while you sketch, write, etc and enables you to play back what was recorded by touching on parts of your sketches.

Of course taking notes is great and extremely essential for architects but what about “action items?” Architects need to be harnessing a very solid GTD-compliant app to make sure they master task (to-do) management. This helps them stay productive, relaxed and in control despite the profession’s natural tendency to throw curveballs. The actual creator of GTD (Getting Things Done) philosophy, David Allen, and his organization, feel that OmniFocus is a top GTD-compliant tool. (see image 02 above). Finally, we think SoundNote is unique. It records audio while you take notes, sketch and type and enables you to listen to particular parts of recordings by simply touching a part of your sketch or notes. (see image 03)

The List (12 Apps)

Here is a listing of some of the most excellent note taking and ideas apps useful to architects on the iPad at the time of this writing. Again, if we have somehow missed an app that deserves to be on this list we would sure appreciate your email on the subject. It may also be listed in another category in our series. Without further ado:

  • Evernote — Evernote is an app sensation. Voted a Top 10 Must-Have App by the New York Times, the key feature is the ability to sync all your notes across all your computers and devices. Evernote supports note taking, idea capture, to-dos and task lists, in addition to voice recording and audio notes. It also connects socially to Twitter, Facebook. A powerful feature is that it can search text inside images. The app recently got upgraded and veteran readers have been very disappointed. We encourage readers to review this carefully (122 k reviews, 4 stars) Free
  • Grafio: Diagrams & Ideas — this app has been noted by another architect in Texas. Grafio is a like a combination of digital napkin, smart whiteboard and business modeling tool. Take notes, create diagrams, capture and annotate images and so much more. It also does audio notes. (188 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 8.99.USD.
  • MagicalPad – this app has been named into “25 Best Small Business Apps” by PC Magzine. This beautiful app is one of the most full-featured note-taking, mind mapping, to-do lists and outlining apps in existence. It works with Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox and more, and supports multiple file formats. (694 reviews, 4 stars) $9.99.USD
  • MindNode — this app by IdeasOnCanvas, another innovator in Germany, is a powerful intuitive mindmapping application that works beautifully on the iPad larger screen. You use it to brainstorm, organize and share your projects and ideas. For the visually-oriented thinker it helps you visually set-to-task and clarify your mind. Includes iCloud sharing. (598 reviews, 4 stars) 9.99.USD
  • Notability — this app was listed by Apple as the best note taker in 2012. It also has a price that can’t be beat without being free–1.99.USD. It’s retina ink engine lets you take stunning notes with fantastic detail–this app could have been listed in conceptual drawings too. It also supports PDF annotation (another category for us here) and an advanced word processing tool. You can also link audio recording to your notes. Syncs data to your favorite cloud service be it Dropbox, Google, Box or Webdav. (7,832 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 1.99.USD
  • Notes Plus — this app is one of the most well-rounded note taking apps out there. It supports handwriting recognition and popup box (zooming) support while writing which many others do as well. You can do background recording, image insertions and there is automatic backup to Dropbox and sync to multiple devices, among other features. (4,218 reviews, 4 stars) 7.99.USD
  • OmniFocus for iPad – this app by the respected software firm The Omni Group, combines in-depth task management features normally found on the desktop and brings them to the mobile experience. This is another great GTD-compliant app. In fact it is listed on David Allen’s corporate website and they have an official GTD setup guide for OminiFocus. (1,543 reviews, 4 1/2 stars) 39.99.USD
  • Outliner for iPad – this app is quite popular as a structured outliner. Create notes, structured lists, tasks and more. It enables sync via Dropbox and tagging to structure search and organization. OPML support and an online web-based option for desktop connection to all your outlines. (119 reviews, 4 stars) 4.99.USD
  • Popplet – this app with the funny name is considered a very good idea catcher and mindmapping app. It supports iPad to iPad collaboration on popplets plus external projector support. (292 ratings, 4 stars) 4.99.USD
  • Scrapnote — this app is best for general research gathering and scrapbooking ideas. It does of course let you take notes but it is good at organizing info you get from the Net and elsewhere. (31 ratings, 4 1/2 stars) 4.99.USD
  • SoundNote — this app is one of the brilliant focused apps out there. SoundNote is the best app for taking notes during lectures and meetings and interviews as it correlates the audio to what you draw and write. That means you can click on parts of a drawing to hear back the audio recording at that precise moment when you drew something or wrote something down. Supports good drawing and sketching and full iPad keyboard typing. Can transfer your audio and notes and drawings to your Mac or PC. Records in standard M4A format where one hour of high quality audio is just 25 MB. (534 reviews, 3 1/2 stars) 4.99.USD.
  • Things for iPad — this app by Cultured Code out of Germany is brilliant. This is a GTD-compliant task, life and project management organizational workhorse. In the interest of full disclosure, the editor of this website uses this religiously to keep track of everything. Keeps everything synced via Things Cloud and between your computers and devices. (4,951 reviews, 4 stars) 19.99.USD

The Gem in the Group

Some may argue this choice but we feel that Things for iPad is the gem in this group. Cultured Code of Germany is an outstanding software developer and this GTD-compliant task (to-do) list manager has just the right amount of features, all wrapped in a simple and elegant interface.

04 - Things for iPad is a GTD compliant task management app that works with Things Cloud. All your to-do tasks can be perfectly synced between all your Macs, iPads and iPhones. Best of all, it just works!

Things Cloud is what made all the Things apps (they have iPhone and Mac versions too) truly rock. It may not have the simplicity of Clear (which only comes on iPhone) but it works with the general quality of care of any Apple product itself.

next page: Project Management Apps for Architects (24 Mar published)

series index page: Ultimate iPad Guide: Apps for Architects

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