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Month: May 2012

Ipad note taking apps: Notability

One of the many selling points with the Ipad is to take notes, in meetings or on the go. Yet the note-taking application that comes with it has a lot left to be desired (which for a $400-600 device may seem weird).

Notability an app by GingerLabs adds a lot of note functionality to the Ipad not that common in other apps. First of all the app has handwriting recognition, which means that it is entirely possible to use a for the Ipad to take notes, or use your fingers. Using a pen makes the note-taking process much easier than using the keyboard, but using just your fingers is a cumbersome and slow process. I tried it for a while but eventually gave up and bought a capacitive stylus.

Another problem with the handwriting recognition in Notability is the fact that you can’t re-size the letters after writing, other similar apps for the Ipad have this feature.

Notability also has the original Ipad software keyboard functionality as well as recording. Using the word processing functionality is very similar to QuickOffice; there are some basic functionality such as styling, outlining and a spell-checker. The recording feature is actually something that you will use a lot when in meetings, seminars or in lectures, each recording is linked to a note. For example at a seminar you will have both your own notes as well as the voice recordings, which is very neat.

Using the Ipad camera it’s possible to insert images into your notes, and other objects such as web clippings and drawings. A weird thing with Notability is that it isn’t possible to erase lines in drawings, hopefully it will be fixed, but it is a bit awkward to redo drawings when it is impossible to erase parts of them. Features that are included are the usual cut and paste options and highlighting words and paragraphs.

An interesting feature in Notability the possibility to import PDF-files and annotate them. This works very well, the PDF shows up in a notebook and it’s possible to add notes and highlights in and around the PDF. On an older Ipad (1 generation) this feature is a bit slow, however it’s still a very useful feature, saving a lot of paper and weight.

In Notability it is possible to create an unlimited number of notebooks with notes on different subjects, organizing them is done using a drag and drop interface, which is straight-forward. Notebooks and notes can also be password protected and synced with services such as Dropbox, iDisk or WebDAV.

Notability is a neat app, many of the features should have been included with the Ipad from the very beginning, however Notability has great value with lots of features on the cheap. It is definitely one of the best note-taking application for the Ipad, it is also faster and less complex than the main competitor, Evernote.

Boot to Gecko – Mozilla phone operating system

Mozilla is gearing up to conquer the mobile space with their project Boot to Gecko (B2G) for smartphones. The goal is to create an open-sourced standard compliant mobile operating system, challenging iOS and Android.

Boot to Gecko uses HTML 5 and a by Mozilla developed API, most current mobile operating systems requires more complex languages such as C# or JAVA. Using HTML 5 in a mobile operating system is an interesting concept, it means that current web apps already using the technology should have an advantage as porting apps to mobile devices will be much easier than before. If Boot to Gecko becomes a success the web will increasingly become the platform of choice for everything, including mobile devices, rendering separate mobile operating systems useless.

Another interesting point with Boot to Gecko is that operators can now provide services across a range of devices instead of having to port all services to different mobile operating systems.

Mozilla have about 20 full-time engineers working on the project with a handful of volunteers supporting it. A lot of the code is re-used from the mobile version of Firefox.

When looking at the road map it is clear that the project will probably take until fall 2012 to materialize. When the project is done it will probably be an uphill battle to get the OS delivered with new phones, phone manufacturers will be reluctant, no doubt. Right now it is possible to run Boot to Gecko on some Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy SII, meaning that a phone does not have to have Boot to Gecko factory installed in order to use it.

The road map for the project also includes some features of the Boot to Gecko operating system, such as a by Mozilla hosted app-store, a e-book reader, a e-mail client and the Firefox browser.

Of course a project like Boot to Gecko might seem like it will never take off or even scratch iOS, Android or Windows Phone penetration, but the mobile space is in the same situation as browsers years ago, with two dominant players. For browsers Microsoft ruled the world with Internet Explorer, the release of Firefox changed all that, perhaps Boot to Gecko will do the same for mobile operating systems.

Demonstration of Boot to Gecko:

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