The Interface is Interfering

I got a fantastic new iPad for Christmas and I love it. I am, of course, just getting used to it and figuring out what I can use it for. It can do all of the things I was was using my iPod Touch for, but better – I can use Sky View to check what planet or constellation I am looking at, I can view and listen to podcasts. Plus it is a much larger screen for reading so I am enjoying reading and surfing much more.

For years I have carried around “brain books”, journals where I plan, organize, record meeting notes, make endless to-do lists and all of the things I need to keep myself on track. I have used many different brands, but my current favourite brand is “Ink Jot” big spiral-bound journals.

Now that I have this cool iPad I am going to try to see if I can use it as a brain book, it will be about the same size to carry, but much more functional. I checked out several different notebook apps. I was looking for something that would allow me to integrate drawings, photos and typed and handwritten text. I could find several apps that meet that criteria, but if I am going to use my iPad effectively I would like to be able to convert my handwritten text to text that I can edit. I am one of those former Palm Pilot users who still miss the Graffiti interface.

I found an app that I thought would fit the bill, 7Notes. It is a notebook app that allows you to integrate drawings, images, even websits as well as allowing you to input text via keyboard and handwriting. I played around with the free version for a bit before upgrading to the paid app, so that I could use the handwriting recognition feature.

It was awful. Turns out that 7Notes converts handwriting to text as you write. In the new paid version the writting area was cluttered up choices (was I typing car or cat, it wanted to know.) I tried to ignore the choices and just write, because I was at the stage in my writing where I just wanted to get my ideas down, and quickly.

After a few sentences I looked back at what 7Notes had recorded. I couldn’t recognize it! So I started to pay more attention to the choices as I was writing, selecting the words I intended as I wrote them. But it was a much slower process, and I got caught up in correcting the interface and was unable to concenrate on what i was writing, the flow was gone. Plus a few times the words changed as I continued on, so the text I was writing wasn’t much more accuate than my original text; and, to make matters worse, my handwritten notes were gone so I couldn’t even go back and correct things since I didn’t remember exactly what I had written.

It has taken a few days to regroup, but I am not ready to give up yet. I took me a while to get used to typing on the iPad as well, but I got used to it. I am not sure if 7Notes is the app I need. I am going to look for an app that will record my handwritten notes as I type them and then allow me to convert them at a later date. Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

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