Evernote has been one of my favorite apps for note-taking because it syncs with everything. It’s definitely not as feature rich as some of the other note-taking apps I’ll mention below, but it does a great job of making sure you can access your notes from anywhere including an iPhone, Mac, or from the Internet. You can record audio and you can create multiple notebooks, add tag and add pictures to your notes.
In terms of features I would like to see in the app, it would be nice if you could add video and also if you could handwrite text into the app. Currently, it only supports typing text using the iPad keyboard. I find this to be a big downside to the app as it’s made for a tablet and there are lots of people who like to use either their fingers or some sort of stylus to input text. Luckily, though, this is kind of taken care of if you also download and install my second favorite note-taking app, Penultimate.
Penultimate has all of the features you would want in a note-taking app like support for the retina display iPad, paper styles, ink styles, notebook organization, etc. That’s all great and what you would expect from a paid iPad app, but what really makes the app useful is it’s integration with Evernote and Dropbox .You can quickly send your entire notebook to Evernote while keeping the formatting. You can then access those notes from anywhere since Evernote syncs to basically every operating system and the Internet.
So if you want to create more unique and eye-catching notes than is possible in Evernote, but still have get all the benefits of the cloud access, then having both of these apps on your iPad is the best solution. You can also specify which notebook the Penultimate notes get sent to, so you can keep those separately.
Even though I don’t use Pages as much as I use Evernote and Penultimate for simple notes, I do end up using Pages for more detailed on in-depth notes. For example, I went to a course on iPhone programming a while back and I found that Evernote and Penultimate were not suited for that type of in-class note taking, at least note for me. Pages is more of a word processor, but also good for notes.
It’s also easy to create charts and graphs, which you really can’t do in the other apps. If you also want things like footnotes and endnotes, word counts, saving to Microsoft Office format, etc, then Pages is definitely the better option. Pages also supports the new retina display.
Notability probably has a few more features than Penultimate, but I ranked Penultimate higher because of it’s integration with Dropbox and Evernote. Notability also has integration with Dropbox, plus a couple of other services like Box.net and iDisk, but I find that syncing to Evernote is a better option.
In terms of other features, Notability lets you handwrite, but also has other common word processing tools like styling, bullets, bold, italic, etc that come in handy. Another nice feature of Notability is that you can record audio and then type or write in your notebook. When you play it back, you can see the text that you had typed in while the audio recording was being made.