Evernote for iOS review: Fantastic note-taking with more extras than you need

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Evernote gives you access to your notes, images, and voice recordings on all your devices. A premium subscription includes PIN access, among other features.

The Bad Evernote's new work-focused features aren't useful for individual users and most are only available to paid subscribers.

The Bottom Line If you're looking for a note-taking app that syncs across all platforms -- or just an easy way to keep track of your digital odds and ends -- Evernote is a worthwhile download.

8.3 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 10.0
  • Features and Support 7.0
  • Interface 8.8
  • Performance 9.0

Editors' note, May 8, 2015: This review has been updated with details on new paid subscriptions in Evernote.

Evernote is an excellent, access-from-anywhere note-taking system, which includes apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PC and Mac. In the last year, Evernote has made a shift from mere note-taking service to a far more robust tool for writing, collaborating and researching. The company's added more tools for people who use Evernote in their work life to collect ideas and work on them with a team of people.

But fear not, if you still use Evernote for non-work related reasons, as the the core features are still there and just as good as they've always been. And, like before, Evernote's suite of mobile apps offer a great way to browse and search your notes, create new ones and save important photos, recordings and more tidbits.

Design

Evernote has done a fantastic job of designing the iOS app, though unfortunately the Android version still lags a bit behind. The app for iPad and iPhone is bright and accented by Evernote's signature green color. You get some control over the app's color scheme, choosing from green, light and dark themes. Premium users get a custom patterned background that really just adds some depth to the home screen.

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The app's default design has a bright green background. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The app also has simple animations when you open notes and notebooks, which add a little flair. My only gripe with the design is that the buttons are too small and often confusing. I'd prefer them to be larger because then the touch targets would be easier to hit. That's not an issue in the Android app, thankfully.

The Android app is a bit more bare-bones, with a mostly white design, a simple slide-out navigation. There's also a handy floating menu of shortcuts to create a new note that includes options to save attachments, photos, audio, reminders and more. The app isn't a pretty as the iOS version, but for actually getting around and browsing my notes, I actually prefer the Android app.

Browse notes, create more, sync it all

The Android and iOS apps are great for both reading notes you've already created on Evernote's desktop apps and website, and creating new content on the fly. There are many ways to create notes and collections of notes, called notebooks. With a tap of the plus sign, which appears throughout the app, you can start typing out a new note quickly, adding formatting as you go.

Your notes can consist of text, images, Web clippings, audio recordings, reminders and even file attachments. The Android app also lets you create handwritten notes, where you can drag your finger or a stylus across the screen to write or sketch out your note. Within text notes, you can add bulleted and numbered lists, as well as checklists, tweak the font formatting to bold, italic or strikethrough and highlight sentences and passages. You can add photos and videos inline in text notes and attach other kinds of content too.

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You can adjust the text formatting in notes and add annotated images. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Evernote also has a few useful tools for annotating photos and PDFs, such as adding text overlays, arrows, highlighting and adding flags. I'm impressed with how easy it is to annotate a photo even on my small phone screen and it's one of my favorite features.

The only kinds of note you cannot create directly from the Evernote apps are web clippings, which are created using a web browser either on mobile or desktop. You use Evernote's Web Clipper tool, which is available for all major browsers to capture entire web pages, or just portions of text and photos. It's a great tool that's especially helpful for saving recipes, how-to guides and anything you want to reference.

In addition to using Evernote on your phone or tablet, you can also create and view notes from the free PC and Mac apps, and from Evernote's redesigned website, which has a super-simple design for a distraction-free writing environment. With a free Evernote account, everything you create and save syncs across all of your devices.

Lastly, within each app Evernote makes it really easy to find anything you've saved with its robust search feature. The company's language-processing features can detect text in PDFs, photos and handwritten notes to help you find notes too.

Office-minded features

Next up are Evernote's most recently added features; Work Chat, Context, and Presentation mode. These are all part of the company's push to get into your office, helping you in your day-to-day work.

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