Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Microsoft OneNote for the iPhone - First Impressions

I see that Microsoft has now released a version of OneNote for the iPhone. Being an avid user of what I consider the single best piece of software to come out of Redmond, I quickly downloaded a copy. First impressions:

  • It requires a Microsoft Live ID to use, as it stores all of the documents "in the cloud". I wonder if Microsoft will release any numbers about how many new IDs are generated by this app?
  • Once logged on, sure enough, my existing notebooks dutifully appeared...after a while. Syncing up initially was a pretty slow process, considering I don't have many notebooks stored on Microsoft's web drive (is it still called SkyDrive? I don't remember).
  • Opening a fairly large workspace was also relatively slow to do. I'll have to see how well incremental syncs in the future perform.
  • Formatting appears to be mostly lost in this view. No bold-face or italics, and sadly, no tables. The fairly easy freeform table creation is one of my favorite parts of OneNote, but in the iPhone version, the tables are only represented by "[table]".
  • Oddly enough, some graphics (mostly screenshots) were displayed and others were not, with not even a placeholder present in the doc for the missing ones. Tapping an image displayed it in a separate page, where it could be rotated, pinch-zoomed, etc. The main document as a whole can be rotated, but pinch-zoom doesn't appear to work.
  • It has buttons to add images, bullet lists and check boxes, but not any other formatting that I could see. I don't know if it supports image capture through the camera since I am testing on an iPod touch 3GS which has no camera.
So, on the whole, for me I can see this as a moderately useful viewer app for (parts of ) my stored notebooks, and maybe for jotting down quick notes that I would like to access from other cloud clients. But I'm not particularly a "power user" of OneNote, and even for me there are gaps that prevent this from acting as a first-class client (table support being the main gap).

However, it's only version one - Microsoft never gets it usable until version three. Suffice it to say, I'll be looking forward for the next two releases more than this one.

No comments: