Jul 16, 2013

    Handwrite notes with these apps

    STUDENTS and professionals have moved beyond pen and paper when it comes to note-taking.

    But taking handwritten notes, even on a digital tablet, is much more personal than typing on a word processor.

    Many of today's most popular tablets are finger-friendly. But for a host of note-taking apps, the devices work best when paired with a stylus.

    Here are a few faves:

    NOTESHELF (US$6, or S$7.60)

    The iPad app by Ramki has a main interface that looks like an empty page ready for you to write on, with controls in an icon bar at the top of the screen.

    You can choose from many predefined types of digital paper, like plain and ruled pages, and even one designed for musical notation.

    Noteshelf supports digital styluses that connect to the app and relay information, like how hard you're pressing on the screen, to produce light or heavy lines. The highlighter pen and eraser options are slick, and there is a great system for selecting lines, drawings or text so you can adjust them later.

    You can add photos to your pages, using intuitive multitouch gestures to move and resize images. But switching from a stylus to finger controls is a little jarring. Your notes can be shared as images or PDFs over e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.


    Visually, the Android app is a lot like Noteshelf, with a page of simulated paper to write on and a slim menu bar at the top. It also has many of the same features.

    The similarity to writing on paper is enhanced by a feature that makes thicker or thinner lines depending on how hard you push the stylus on the screen.

    The app has different paper backgrounds, and you can add images. Adding typed text to your notes and drawing geometric shapes require an in-app purchase.

    ePAPER (US$2)

    Made for iOS, the ePaper app by Effectmatrix has a more open design and departs from the idea of simulating a notepad. It has tools that let you sketch and paint on your note pages.

    A broad array of pen, pencil and brush-emulating tools is included. A pack of additional paper designs costs US$1. It's easy to use, and if your notes tend to be artistic and free-form, this is for you.


    On Android, this app by Stylus Labs is a simpler offering, with fewer pen types and digital paper designs. But it's still powerful, and you can export notes as images or PDFs via services like e-mail or Dropbox.

    It can also support electronic styluses. The pages automatically scroll up to expose more blank space when you approach the bottom edge.