The Best Note Taking App for iPad

I first witnessed the MyScipt Calculator at the Mobile App Showdown a couple of years ago at CES. Iwas frankly blown away by the fluid math solving prowess of this app, and it was not surprise when it won the top honors that year. MyScript did not stop there. They kept right on creating innovative extensions of this technology, particularly the hand-writing recognition now baked into a number of MyScript apps. I do not exaggerate when I say that MyScript Smart Note (free), is an amazing note-taking application for iPad See it in action in the embedded video following the break.

The MyScript Smart Note experience is superbly inclusive—-the designers seem to have thought of almost everything one would need in a pure note-taking app. The handwriting is smooth and well balanced, without jerkiness or hesitation. The gesture-based corrections work amazingly well, and the features are easy and intuitive. See for yourself in the embedded video below:

Since I have a few other note-taking tools, I tested and contrasted MyScript with some other similar apps I have used over the years, particularly Penultimate, and GoodNotes. Penultimate offers a free app experience, with added functionality for a price, while GoodNote (which used to have a free version) is now $5.99. Both are great note-taking apps, but seem old and tired next to MyScript.


Penultimate has a great-looking interface and it is of course designed to go hand in hand with Evernote. You can use it to jot notes quickly, embed photos and pictures in your notes, and sync them to Evernote. It works well and looks sexy, but you can't edit or correct notes on the fly with a gesture as with MyScript, and you can't select and then easily search note content (or get word definitions) inside a note. I am talking about searching the stuff you actually write inside the note (see above). Penultimate is great if all you do is jot notes for syncing to Evernote. Penultimate also integrates with wireless note-taking accessories like the Jot.


The current price tag on GoodNotes was like a slap in the face. I downloaded the app way back when it was still free, which still works and has a big ad banner plastered on the bottom. I like GoodNotes for many of the same reasons I like Penultimate, but mostly it is still the same app I remember. GoodNotes treats the notepad area where you write and draw like one big canvas. The key to MyScript is the intuitive way it handles text, graphics and even sound in your notes. You can also insert equations into notebooks with the MyScript Smart Note app!

I was disappointed that the new MyScript Smart Note app did not integrate with my Targus iNotebook, but the app does support several other similar wireless devices (Jot, Wacom, POGO, etc.). Admittedly, the Targus device did not exactly catch the world on fire with hand-writing adoption, so I'm not surprised it isn't supported.

The palm detection method in the MyScript app was also a bit weird. It requires you to slide up a virtual shade from the bottom to block a portion of the screen where your palm would sit, and was not always effective to block stray strokes on the note-taking surface. The app did surprisingly well recognizing words in both cursive and printed form regardless of my poor penmanship. it did crash once while editing a note, but otherwise performed well on my iPad mini.


The Verdict

The new MyScript Smart Note is a polished note-taking app experience. As a hand-writing and note object recognition engine, it worked well except when exporting notes as pure text (it stumbled a bit in this regard). It does lack the cloud-syncing convenience of Penultimate, but you can still export to iTunes, Dropbox, and Evernote, send notes in email, etc. I recommend it highly for anyone needing to scribble furiously on their iPad!

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Author Details

Nate Adcock's picture

Author Details

Nate Adcock

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the and blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at or e-mail him at