One of the standout features on iPad Pro is note taking especially with the presence of Apple Pencil. And now that we have a 2nd Generation Apple Pencil it’s needless to say that things have improved. But not all note taking apps are made equal. Some are made for quick scribbling, some offer better organization, while others excel in labeling and color coding, etc. So, let’s see what the best note-taking apps for the ‘iPad Pro 2018’ have to offer.
Best Note Taking Apps For iPad Pro
1. Apple Notes
Best for basic note taking and listing
Two reasons to start with Apple Notes, it’s the native note-taking app on Apple Devices and the most underrated app on the list. Apple Notes is capable of doing so much more than it seems as most of the hidden features are buried under the settings. Yes, you will be surprised to find the options you get to see under the share button while in the Notes app or the app settings at Settings > Notes.
Since the Notes app is Apple’s native, it additionally supports one-tap access via Apple Pencil from lock-screen itself. You can change the settings to open a new note or last note every time you tap on the lock-screen using your Apple Pencil. You can also shape your default note with lines and grids, set password, and even select how the Apple Pencil responses from the settings page itself. All other features are hidden under the share button so don’t miss out.
- Searchable handwritten notes
- Lasso select to rearrange written text.
- Typed notes
- Text formatting
- On-screen ruler scale with degree support
- Table support
- Attach a photo, scan or sketch
- Lines and Grids
- Create folders
- Export as PDF
- Password protection
- Add people to a note
Best for documentary note taking for professionals
Surprised to see Pages on the list? Pages is a documentation app otherwise, but with the Smart Annotation integration that lets you use Apple Pencil with the app, it offers a wide range of features. The app becomes as good as any note-taking app and even better for users who want to publish the note for professional use like in presentations.
If only the app would have given support for lines & grids and handwriting recognition, I would have never spent a penny more for any other app. Like Notes, you can head to Settings > Pages to change Apple Pencil actions. Since it’s the same Pages app otherwise, you get to use a template of your choice when you start a new document. This makes things simpler as you don’t have to design a note, simply change the content in heads and body to personalize it.
- Handwritten & typed notes
- Smart Annotation support for Apple Pencil
- Sketch support for Apple Pencil
- Attachment support for Photos, Videos, and Audio
- Insert Drawing or Math equations
- 2D, 3D, and interactive diagram support
- 500+ objects and shapes
- Presentation mode
- Page scaling guides for printing, etc.
- Export to PDF, Word, RTF, etc.
- Add people to document
- Password protection
Best for classroom cum documented notes
The reason why I think OneNote is a good fit for quick classroom cum documented notes is a mix of tools. You can very well use some quick features like handwriting with a wide range of pens and insert audio and pictures to store all details. And later, you can redefine your shabby looking note within the same app, using the text & formatting tools available.
Additionally, the app has a classroom feature that needs to be activated from settings. Teachers can use this feature to create assignments and check the submitted assignments within the app itself. The app offers many features including handwriting recognition. If only it would have had a feature to convert my handwritten notes into typed text (OCR), the app would have been a great competition to some of the paid apps that don’t come cheap. Yes, OneNote is totally free.
- Handwriting recognition.
- All Microsoft office fonts
- Customizable page color, lines & grids
- Symbols, tags, and checkboxes
- Insert a note/PDF within a note.
- Lasso select
- Auto-Shape drawings
- Customizable drawing angles.
- Password protection.
Download OneNote (free)
Best for university students
Evernote’s design is a perfect fit for university students who end up having a combination of lengthy written notes and bulk of PDF files and printed notes. Evernote will help you create a single note by combining all the sources of your study material. While Evernote supports all basic features of a note-taking app, it also allows you to insert files, both scan and PDF, as attachments. And moreover, you can annotate the attachments right within the note, allowing you to read your notes on a single screen.
Although Evernote doesn’t really qualify for the note-taking apps if you consider using your Apple Pencil for the task primarily. But since you can still scan and search your handwritten text and also attach and annotate the document, it makes a difference. Bottom line is that you don’t really go paperless but still have pretty good organization of your notes.
- To-do list within the note
- Reminder within the note
- Insert audio files, PDF’s, etc
- Annotate apps within the note
- Handwriting recognition in scanned documents
- Add sketch and drawings
- Share note
- Dark Mode
- Siri Shortcut
Download Evernote (free, $22 yearly for premium version)
Best for organized notes
Bear notes can be considered as an honorable mention on my list because it’s famous for some reason. To some users, it might even seem a little confusing because of the number of options you see on a single page. The app is basically designed for users who are very organized and use interlinking within their digital notes. The app uses various hashtags and interlinks/web-links to help you create a choose your own adventure note.
Bear is not just a page of note or a bunch of notes while you are at it. The becomes a book in itself when you have used it enough. If you have multiple notes with similar subjects, interlinking with the apps advanced options helps you identify all portions of data with similar texts.
We all are very well aware of hashtags and Bear has very thoughtfully implemented the option in notes. Placing a hashtag at certain places will let you identify them later when you click on one such tag despite being on a separate note altogether. Similarly, the search option lets you search all the notes at once.
- Advanced text formatting
- Advanced search options
- Browser extensions
- Interlinking notes
- Insert web-links
- searchable hashtags
Download Bear (free, $15 yearly for pro-version)
Best for basic creative note-taking
Notebook is a fancy app but with very limited options, hence it is recommended for early users who creative but new to the concept of paperless note-taking. The app, of course, offers some basic text formatting options to organize the body of your note but remains very basic otherwise.
Notebook does provide Apple Pencil support but the interface does not allow handwritten notes. You can either use the sketch board to insert a handwritten note or scan a handwritten document as an attachment. In any case, it won’t be searchable so it won’t make any difference. Bottom line, if it’s a single page quick note you can manage it on Notebook but if it’s a lengthy note, you must look for another app.
- Notebook covers
- Customizable page color
- Date stamp
- Photo and Audio attachment support
- Checkbox for To-Do list support
- Web-link support
- Password protection
- Reminder within a note
Download Notebook (free)
Best for work-space
If you’re in a work-space environment like me where a complete team works on a single document or a script like we do, Notion is a must have app. If you are familiar with slack, just imagine the complete slack model just replacing messaging with note-making. Create a work station and join your team members in notes and documents. You can tag people at certain portions for which they also receive a notification so they never miss out an important point.
In my opinion, Notion is a must-have app across all platforms and without a doubt if you’re an iPad Pro user. The app can be used within the household as well by creating a personalized work-space.
- Create workspace
- Share notes
- Create a checklist
- Tag members in a note
- Create a page
- Insert web-links with thumbnails and headlines
- Personalized tag markers
- Dark Mode
Download Notion (free)
8. GoodNotes 5
Best for handwritten note-taking
GoodNotes5 is one of the most popular opinions amongst iPad Pro users specifically. If you are willing to pay a little for extra features and better organization, GoodNotes is the best option out there. As the name suggests, the app is currently offering its fifth version and has been on top of the list from the very beginning.
GoodNotes is mostly popular because if its easy access to multiple options on a single menu bar. Plus the options are highly customizable where you can even select pens with a ball pen tip or a fountain pen tip. One point of disappointment to some users is that you have to add a page each time and the orientation of the page has to be set again even though you are on the same note still. This is where our next honorable mention comes in. Let’s have a look
- Cover, page type, and pen selection
- Page size selection for print assist
- Lines & Grids options
- Handwriting recognition and conversion to text
- Palm rejection toggle
- Auto shape objects
- Cloud sync
Download GoodNotes 5 ($8)
Best for endless handwritten notes
Notability has remained the editor’s choice app for as long as I have owned an iPad Pro. This app is the next stop for people who wish to have more than what GoodNotes offers. I’ll give you a reason to read ahead. Notability has a multi-note feature, where you can work on two notes simultaneously, and by that I mean two notes opened on a split-screen window.
Unlike Goodnotes, where you have to flip pages, Notability supports infinite scroll.
Clearly, Notability has the edge here. If you really require all these features or if you have enough money to keep buying apps like these, it is no doubt a must-have app. But if you don’t really require features like language translation or multi-note features, unless you’re the next Einstien, I’d still suggest you go with apps like OneNote. It’s free and has almost everything a good note-taking app must have
- Create folders and sub-folders
- Insert GIF, web-clips, and Sticky notes
- Select paper type and style
- Multi-note feature
- Zoomed writing pad
- Multiple pages in a single scroll
- Convert handwritten notes to text
- Multi-language translation of text.
Download Notability ($10)
Best Note Taking App For iPad Pro
I have tried to make the choice very simple. If you don’t really like using third-party apps like me, go ahead with the native Notes app, it has enough options to do an above average note-making. If you wish to go a little further and want a better interface and organization go for OneNote which is free and offers a lot more. And if you’re ready to pay and want everything that you can have at your disposal, go ahead and get Notability or GoodNotes 5 without a doubt, you won’t regret it. Take your pick and let me know your experience in the comments below.