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Notes Pro – New iPhone Notes App Syncs with Google Docs & Has Spotlight Style Search

Today is a good day. For various reasons, but one of them is that it’s a day where I’ve come across an iPhone app that really stands out, and offers some very compelling new features.

That app is Notes Pro, an alternative to the built-in iPhone Notes app, with some very, very nice tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, it syncs with Google Docs – a strong feature and (I think) a unique approach to syncing notes. It also offers a ‘Spotlight style’ search capability – so you can search content in all of your notes, and start seeing search results as you type. Again, a very strong feature for a notes app.

You might be thinking that Evernote matches up well with this new app – as it offers virtually instant sync, and a search capability (though not one that starts showing results as you type). And it does – I love Evernote and use it daily, but I do find that its one big drawback on the iPhone is that its interface for adding new text notes or editing existing ones is ugly and not so great to work with.

Notes Pro has a very simple and effective interface for working with your notes. Its a much nicer input area (much closer to the built-in Notes appearance) to work with. It also lets you work with notes in landscape or portrait mode.

Iconic Notes is another iPhone notes apps, that also provides a very nice input interface, as well as the ability to organize your notes by categories, which Notes Pro does not. I think the powerful search feature means I won’t miss categories too much though.

The developers of Notes Pro say they were inspired by “John Gruber’s landmark “iPhone Likeness” article (from Daring Fireball)”. That’s a great article – which you can check out HERE – that puts forward some guidelines for iPhone user interface design, and talks about what making an ‘iPhone-like’ app is all about. For instance:

I ‘ll put forth one central, overriding guideline for iPhone UI design:
Figure out the absolute least you need to do to implement the idea, do just that, and then polish the hell out of the experience.

So that’s a fine source of inspiration when developing an iPhone app. The developers’ goal for this app is to have it ‘replace the standard Notes app with its added functionality, while maintaining the simplicity of an Apple app‘. I’m no major interface and design expert like Gruber (not by a long, long way) – but I’d say they’ve done a good job on this.

Syncing with Google Docs is done from within an individual note – one tap on the sync icon in the app’s bottom bar lets you choose to email the note or sync it (once you’ve input your Google Docs info into the app via the Settings app). Sync works quickly, but I think there needs to be an option to sync all notes at once, in addition to the existing ability to do one at a time.

From the main notes listing screen, you just tap the magnifying glass icon (at top left) to pull up the search bar, and it will start returning results as you type. In the screencap just below, it has already narrowed it down to one note based on just the first two characters, ‘hi’, for my test using the word ‘hippo’ in a note …

Overall, Notes Pro is very simple and comfortable to use, and has definitely added a couple very strong new features. I’ll have to use it some more to see whether I really prefer it to Iconic Notes, but as a first impression, I’d say this will be my go-to notes app on the iPhone.

You can find Notes Pro in the App Store now, for $0.99.

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  • jwfrancis

    It doesn’t seem to ‘sync’, it just uploads a new copy of a note to Google Docs as a new document. The button text gives it away – ‘Sync to Google Docs’. Call me picky, but ‘sync’ implies two way to me.

  • jwfrancis – you’re right. It is one-way sync only, and they should look towards making it work in both directions for sure …

  • bjorn

    try NoteMaster – it SYNCS with google docs, and you can include pictures… works great!

    • That one looks interesting, lots of features. Is it real two-way sync, or one way like Notes Pro currently is? (which is really not sync)

  • Ken

    the app is amazing but there is a clue: how can you restore notes from G docs? I can't see any way. If it's not possible this app is useless.

    • It's still only one-way sync to Google Docs as far as I know – so that's not possible. This is very disappointing, as I'm fairly sure the developers promised two-way sync was coming quite some time back.

  • Ken

    No problem, I already switch to NoteMaster which is much better speaking about sync. Did already some tests and NoteMaster's working like a charm πŸ™‚

  • Peter

    So, maybe I am missing something or do not have any knowledge of the topic but in any of the above apps I do not see the possibility to password protect individual notes.
    Somebody a clue?