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Microsoft OneNote for Android and iPad review

With mobile versions of OneNote now available for both Android and iPad, tablet users have an easy way to access their desktop notes and clippings when on the move. As Julian Prokaza discovers though, one of these apps is not like the other.

Microsoft OneNote for Android and iOS

OneNote for Android wastes acres of screen space at the expense of usability.

This disparity also extends to the apps' other features. OneNote for Android lacks the iOS app's option to send the current page as an email attachment, for example, and also lacks a way to quickly show the notebook list or unfiled notes, or to search the notebooks the iOS app has permanent on-screen buttons for each of these functions.

Creating content

Both apps do at least do a good job of accurately displaying most kinds of content created in OneNote for Windows (with one exception, see below), but the options to create similarly complex notes on each tablet are more limited.

Microsoft OneNote for Android and iOS

OneNote for iPad can only be used to create relatively simple text notes with embedded images from the camera or photo gallery.

In addition to typed text, the iOS app can create checklists and bulleted lists, insert photos taken with the camera and paste text copied to the clipboard. Images can't be pasted from the clipboard, but can be saved to the photo library and inserted from there.

The Android app adds numbered lists to this, but neither app offers any way to format text or to insert more sophisticated content. There's no way to create ink' notes doodled on the touch screen with a fingertip either, or even to view ink notes created in OneNote for Windows.

Microsoft OneNote for Android and iOS

OneNote for Android has one extra list type than the iPad app, but it otherwise limited to creating simple, unformatted notes.

Changes made in OneNote for Windows are synced more or less immediately to the mobile apps, but syncing in the opposite direction only takes place when the page being edited is closed. Notebook synchronisation between mobile apps is not automatic though, and must be manually initiated.

In conclusion

Although nowhere near as versatile as Evernote, OneNote for iPad is still a very capable app and while its ability to create rich content on the move is limited, it works extremely well as a way to view synced desktop content.

OneNote for Android, on the other hand, feels very much like an early work in progress and while it still offers much the same features as the iOS app, it's nowhere near as pleasant to use.

Verdict

OneNote for iPad is a viable mobile version of the Microsoft desktop application, albeit with some limitations, but OneNote for Android still has some way to go before it offers a similar level of sophistication — though the price certainly sweetens the deal.

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