The first thing to know about note-taking on any mobile device is that it’s not perfect. Another thing to know: If, like me, you’re accustomed to writing in microscopic chicken scratch for post-session translation, you probably won’t like note-taking on an Android device … at least at first. However, if you’ve decided (or, more likely, your secretary or co-workers keep complaining) that you need to “modernize” your paper output, you will find satisfaction in moving to a more robust digital note-taking system.
My first post on this topic for Attorney at Work featured a number of note-taking apps. Since then, some of my preferred apps have changed significantly, though others remain the same. In a recent post on The Droid Lawyer, I listed 51 of the top apps for Android lawyers, which included some of the originals and a few newcomers.
The 2.0 Update Change Log
It’s probably easier to start with the staple note-taking apps that I continue to recommend. The “hallowed two,” Evernote and Microsoft OneNote, are still around, of course. (Refer to my “1.0” post for specifics about each app.) I use Evernote more than its Microsoft competitor because I never really got into OneNote. That said, I still don’t utilize Evernote as much for legal work as I do for personal matters. If you need OneNote advice, I refer you to Ben Schorr, who literally wrote the book on OneNote for lawyers.
Google Docs is still a great resource for simple note-taking, but it has received a slight branding modification. It’s now called Google Drive. The online and mobile app purports to be the go-to replacement for Microsoft Office. It’s not quite there, but I do a fairly significant amount of work using the app (I wrote this post on Google Drive), although I probably use it online at a desktop more often than with an Android device. I hesitate to use Google Drive for “secure” work because its broad end-user license virtually grants Google an ownership interest in your materials. I think with this broad license, you’re probably violating Rule 1.15 to store confidential information in the Google Drive cloud.
For my go-to handwriting app, I’ve switched from PenSupremacy to Quill ($1). Ultimately, I grew tired of waiting for a usable workspace and removal of the offline restriction. Quill provides what the other app couldn’t. Incidentally, it also competes with the Asus-only app, SuperNote.
Quill is my go-to suggestion for any handwriting on Android. Period. However, like any other writing app, Quill does require a good (if not excellent) multitouch device. Really, you will be disappointed if you use any handwriting app on a substandard device.
If you’re more type-centered, you’ll want to check out the free apps AK Notepad and Notepad, which I suggested in my original post. The problem is that any significant typing on an Android device only works great with a keyboard. That’s why the paper note-taking method has remained stable for 2,000-plus years.
Overall, Android’s digital note-taking isn’t going to totally replace the paper method, but you’re going to find some pretty solid challengers.
I’ll discuss dictation apps in part two of this three-part series. Check out my upcoming reviews on dictation and voice automation at The Droid Lawyer as well.
More Note-Taking Tips
This Is How We Get Things Done by Dan Gold
The Droid Lawyer: 2012’s Best Apps for Android Lawyers
Mac Note-Taking and Dictation Apps for Lawyers by Paul Unger
Developing an Online Research Workflow: Evernote by Tom Mighell
Getting Started with Evernote by Joe Bahgat