OneNote app released to iPhone

It is finally here. Microsoft today launched the OneNote app for the iPhone. One of the most useful (and addicting) applications in the Microsoft Office suite is OneNote, and now iPhone users can use OneNote on the go and sync information between their Windows PC and their Apple smartphone.

Microsoft OneNote is part project planner, part scratch pad, part to-do list, and all about organizing your life. One of the things that makes OneNote great is the free form canvas it provides for gathering information. You can jot notes like a scratch pad, create lists, insert audio or video clips, add pictures, draw freehand, and more.

Takeshi Numoto explains OneNote in more detail in an Office Exec blog post.

“In case you haven’t experienced the unsung hero of Office, OneNote is a digital notebook that lets you put everything you need to remember in one electronic place and then easily find it wherever you are. I use it every day. Think of it as a digital file cabinet for all the random bits of information that are too hard to keep track of in your head.”

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OneNote lets you add all of the information you need for a given task or project on a single OneNote page for easy and efficient access. The problem that has faced many OneNote users, though, is not being able to view, add, or edit those OneNote notes on the go. Microsoft Office Mobile 2010–which included OneNote Mobile 2010–has been limited to the Windows Mobile and Windows Phone platforms.

According to Numoto, “OneNote Mobile for the iPhone lets you capture and review notes and lists on your phone. Notes are automatically backed up and synced with free Windows Live SkyDrive online storage, so that you can access them from virtually anywhere–your PC, phone, and browser. Collecting thoughts and ideas on the go is what OneNote was made for. ”

I am a huge fan of OneNote. I have the icon in my Windows systray for easy one-click access to add notes. I use it to record phone numbers or addresses while on a phone call, or as a scratch pad for writing down random thoughts that occurred to me. It is a great tool.

Last year, Microsoft introduced a Web-app version of OneNote (along with Web versions of its other Office apps; you have to use that online version in your browser (Safari or Firefox) if you want to use OneNote on a Mac. And that Web app requires a free Windows Live account.
However, I have personally been impacted by the struggle to use OneNote on mobile devices. While out and about, I would often need access to those phone numbers and addresses I recorded in OneNote, but I was out of luck. I tried an app called MobileNoter, but found its syncing to be disappointing. Finally, I simply switched from OneNote to Evernote as my note-jotting and life-organizing platform of choice.

The new iOS app isn’t as capable as the Web version or the Windows desktop client. On the iPhone, you can create notes containing plain text, checklists, or embedded photos. The Web app supports those plus tables, hyperlinks, uploaded graphics, and clip art; it also supports formatted text, using a ribbon-based interface like the Mac Office suite’s. Unfortunately, some of those advanced data types and formats won’t show up when you view those notes on your iPhone.

Evernote is very similar to OneNote in form and functionality, but lets me keep everything synced from Windows 7, to my iPhone, and my iPad as well. But, with OneNote Mobile now available for the iPhone I will definitely download it and give it a shot to compare it with the experience I have had using Evernote and decide which is a better fit for me.

Android and BlackBerry users will still have OneNote envy, but Apple iPhone users can finally rejoice and embrace OneNote Mobile. The OneNote app is available from the Apple App Store for free for the time being as a promotional offering. There is no official word yet from Microsoft on when the promotion will end, or how much the app might cost once it starts charging for it.

– With files from Dan Miller (


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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