Android App Review: Microsoft OneNote

Prepare yourself. I think Microsoft’s newest release of OneNote just put all other notebook applications out of business.

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Evernote, Google Keep, and everyone else ought to step aside, because the new OneNote is definitely going places.

Microsoft’s the tortoise or the hare

I can’t figure Microsoft out. Somewhere from nowhere, Microsoft finally started to care about designing and releasing quality applications for Android. I guess Google’s dominance scared them just enough.

The recently updated OneNote mobile app is a fine example.

Truthfully, OneNote will probably become my go-to notebook. Yes, it’s that good. And I’m especially fond of the Office.com integration.

OneNote’s new design and awesome tablet interface should definitely make Google’s designers cringe. The app is miles beyond Google Keep in the ways it works with, organizes, and displays notes. OneNote mobile offers voice recording, image pasting, and of course, text editing.

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Evernote users won’t be too impressed, but I prefer OneNote’s layout — notebook to subject to page — over Evernote’s oddly (at least for me) configured organizational method.

Most importantly though, OneNote works with Office.com, Microsoft’s cloud-based, full versions of Work, Excel, and PowerPoint.

OneDrive Online

Decent handwriting is here

Perhaps OneNote’s greatest benefit is its near-flawless drawing capabilities. Name the picture, and I’m sure your artist nature could has that out to something beautiful.

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I’m not sure where my art skills rank.

The new handwriting function also gives you a genuinely good way to take hand written notes.

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I’m not convinced they’ll be perfect, but you can get a decent result. Plus, since you can adjust the pen tip, you can cram a lot of handwritten text in the space provided.

Still some flaws

OneNote isn’t perfect, despite all of this praise. In fact, one of OneNote’s biggest issues is that it’s painstakingly slow at times.

I’m contributing this delay to 1) my tablet, but 2) mostly OneDrive syncing. OneNote seems to constantly sync with SkyDrive to keep the “freshest” copy available. This is a great feature, but can really bog down some productivity when switching between sheets, subjects, or notebooks. Indeed, I spent a lot of time staring at a spinning bubble circle during my tests.

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OneNote also only works with your Microsoft account (duh). This meant I had to play “Russian Roulette” (I guess until I fail) to discover my @outlook.com username — it’s jbtokc@outlook.com if you want to send me an email I’ll never read. Frustrating to say the least, especially for this “Google tool.”

I’m still not exactly sure how, or where, or if, I can access my OneNote files from any other device. (That’s not true, I know I can use Office.com online.)

One of the other problems I noticed is the way OneNote works with images.

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OneNote inserts an image into a note at full size, without the option or ability to resize the image. Thus, a fairly large image, like the picture in the screenshot, ends up sitting beyond the visible area. You can zoom out, but any words become almost unreadable.

If you’re going to have words with the picture, then you’ll want to insert the picture first and add commentary second.

Finally, though this isn’t a flaw, you should be aware that even though Microsoft offers OneNote for free, the Android app is limited in its ability to print or share. You’ll need to access your information through your OneDrive or OneNote account online. That’s where the print and sharing magic happens.

Final verdict

OneNote for Android gets my 4.5 of 5 stars approval. The latest update brings a crisp, clean user interface that helps to manage your notes and information. In spite of some small flaws, OneNote ends up providing a power-packed, easy-to-use application. Combine OneNote (and Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) for Android with Office.com, and Google really needs to worry about its Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides products.

Dare I say, I could see myself “jumping ship” to Office.com for familiarity’s sake?

Incidentally, if you’re looking for some great tips and tricks on working with OneNote, check out Ben Schorr’s book, OneNote in One Hour for Lawyers ($34.95) — the book’s pricey when you order from the ABA, so check out Amazon ($25.80) where you’ll save some money.

Get this app on Google Play

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One Response to Android App Review: Microsoft OneNote

  1. I like this app but where is the SHARE option on the android app of OneNote? I have yet to find it. Thanks for any suggestions.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.