Illustration by J. Claeys
Startups Microsoft Google

Tech Execs Are Obsessing Over Note-Taking Apps. We Tested Them Out

Photo: Illustration by J. Claeys

Investors are newly enamored of note-taking apps, financing startups like Notion Labs, Coda and Roam Research at high valuations. Some of the recent buzz stems from a legion of tech and finance superusers. They claim these apps are making them more creative and productive, qualities that can feel in short supply during long days of remote work.

Switching to a new organizational app requires time and effort, however. As journalists who take lots of notes and often organize them haphazardly, we have tried out many such tools over the years. They generally offer an improvement on reporters’ notebooks tagged with sticky notes, but few stand up to lasting use. Some suffer from overly complex features, others feel siloed, and still others don’t seem worth the price. 

Below, we give our take on the newer generation of note-taking apps (Bear, Roam, Coda and Notion), plus an older app (Evernote) and the free alternatives associated with the Apple, Google and Microsoft systems. Got a preference? Let us know in the comments. 

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing
Tech CEOs Face Angry Senators: The Information’s Tech Briefing
Tech CEOs Face Angry Senators: The Information’s Tech Briefing

If today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Section 230 demonstrated anything, it’s the impossible position faced by tech companies in responding to Democrats and Republicans complaining about their content moderation policies. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted in his opening statement, “Democrats often say we don’t remove enough content and Republicans often ...

Latest Briefs
 
Google Staffer Revealed as Anonymous Trump Administration ‘Resistance’ Author
Pinterest Posts Strong Growth in Users and Revenue
Apple May Be Stepping Up Search Efforts
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
The SPAC Target List: Private Tech and Media Firms in Their Teenage Years
The SPAC Target List: Private Tech and Media Firms in Their Teenage Years
A dozen private tech and media firms, ranging from BuzzFeed to Getaround, have been left behind in the initial public offering surge of the past two years.
Inside Apple’s Eroding Partnership With Foxconn
Exclusive Asia Apple
Inside Apple’s Eroding Partnership With Foxconn
When Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro was undergoing production trials at the company’s largest outside manufacturer, Foxconn Technology, the Taiwanese firm gave Apple a list of how many workers it needed to develop the new product.
The Startup Trap Quibi Fell Into (and I Almost Did Too)
The Takeaway
The Startup Trap Quibi Fell Into (and I Almost Did Too)
This week, Tom and Jessica broke the news that Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg had told people the video startup might have to shut down and then—a day later— reported the shutdown officially.
Airbnb’s Spin Master
Exclusive Travel Real Estate
Airbnb’s Spin Master
Chris Lehane was piping mad. Laurence Tosi, Airbnb’s chief financial officer, had accused the Airbnb policy and communications chief of spending millions of dollars before Tosi had signed off on the plans, approval Lehane didn’t think he needed.
The Tech Giants’ Cultures Are Incompatible With Fixing the Societal Problems They’re Causing
Opinion Policy Google
The Tech Giants’ Cultures Are Incompatible With Fixing the Societal Problems They’re Causing
The chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter are rightly under fire for their role in spreading disinformation and hate speech, including in the context of the U.S.
To Fix Section 230, Target Algorithmic Amplification
Opinion
To Fix Section 230, Target Algorithmic Amplification
It now seems inevitable that the U.S. government will try to roll back some of the protections that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has provided to internet companies.