Assisstive Technology in Ann Arbor: Notability: More Than Just Your Basic Note-Taking App

I have been using Notability for the past six months to take notes at conferences and jot down thoughts and ideas I want to remember while reading. As I’ve gotten more familiar with the app, I’ve wished it had been around when I was in school. This app would have limited the number of materials I would have needed to cart around from class to class and made organization a snap. I’ll get into specifics below, but for now let me say that I am a fan of Notability. Here’s why…

At the time of this review, Notability earned 4.5 out of 5 stars (based on 11,661 user reviews). It is currently in version 5.24, which means that the developers have listened to user critiques and have continually improved the app to work out the bugs and give users exactly what they are looking for in a note-taking app. It is also an Editor’s Choice app, meaning it has been singled out by Apple for its excellent quality or “bang for your buck.”

Notability gives life to your ideas, stores your notes, and improves your memory and organization.  ~ Ginger Labs, App Developer

So, just WHAT does it do?

Besides taking notes, the app allows users to sketch ideas, import and annotate documents, complete worksheets, keep a journal, take and import pictures, and create an audio recording of lectures. For auditory learners especially, the ability to record a lecture and play it back later is a great feature. The folks at Ginger Labs write:

Everything you type, write or add to your note is linked to the audio recording, giving you more context than ever when reviewing. Just tap play and watch your note unfold. Want to jump to a specific point in the recording? Tap a word with the navigation tool and you’ll go to that point in the recording.

Keeps Things Organized

The app organizes notes into subjects and you can add dividers to keep track of different types of notes (e.g., lecture notes, reading notes, and assignments). Additionally, the app can be synced to the cloud and/or Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or WebDAV), so notes can be viewed on a computer or iPhone, not just on the iPad – which is another great way to avoid lost notes. If notes are typed, you can search for a specific note using keywords. You can even pair a Bluetooth keyboard with the app if you do not want to use the on-screen keyboard or if, like me, you type faster than you write.

Eliminate Backpack Clutter and Lost Supplies

The app includes several paper templates (e.g., plain, lined, and graph paper are just a few), multiple highlighter and ink colors, and allows notes to be handwritten or typed. Thus, it includes all of your typical school “supplies” and eliminates the need to purchase (or keep track of) multiple binders, notebooks or writing utensils – great for the student who is constantly losing things s/he needs! For visual learners, the ability to customize notes and make important concepts stand out (by using different fonts, ink colors and highlighters, or by creating figures, importing pictures or drawing directly on a PDF/photo) is a stand-out feature.

For more information about Notability, click on the following links:

Notability on the App Store

Notability App Review Video

Runs on
: iPad and iPhone
Cost: $1.99 on sale currently (regular price $4.99)
Great for: everyone, but especially visual or auditory learners
Favorite features/pros: ability to import PDFs and take notes on them, ability to record lectures for later review, ease of finding notes, organization of having everything in one place
Things to consider/cons: only available for iOs devices
Average user rating: ****½ (out of 5)

If you continue to struggle with note-taking and reading, there are many more resources out there that can help. Our clinic currently offers a program designed to help people of all ages that struggle with not only note-taking an organization, but strategic thinking, test taking strategies, memory, etc.–Executive Function Coaching. For more information about Executive Function Coaching, please contact our clinic.