MobileNoter Review – sync OneNote to your iPhone/Touch
March 2, 2010
[Another non-Apex post… Sorry to those who subscribe to my blog for Apex stuff. I haven’t been working on it much lately, except to check out 4.0EA, which is looking great!]
On to the subject at hand… MobileNoter allows you to sync selected OneNote notebooks (2007 or 2010, though they only recommend 2007) to your iPhone. They offer a WiFi-only version and a “Cloud” version for syncing via iPhone cell signal. I’ve only checked out the WiFi version for a few minutes, but what I see has impressed me.
Once you’ve downloaded the Windows client and installed the iPhone client, you run the Windows client setup feature to choose which notebooks you want to sync. They have to be currently open in OneNote (i.e. on OneNote’s list of notebooks), though OneNote itself doesn’t have to be open to set up or sync. Then you set up syncing on the iPhone, telling it which iPhone on your local WiFi network is you. It provides a passcode, which you plug into the Windows client (it prompts you on Windows). That provides the secure handshaking.
Then just sync! The first one will take a little while, depending on how big your notebooks are. After that, sync is pretty quick. As far as I can tell from the pages it said it was trying to re-sync, it only checks those pages you visited in MobileNoter. Currently there’s a limit on the maximum page size of 5Mb, though their blog says they’ll be removing that in version 1.3, which they hope to release at the end of March.
How’s it look?
The quality of the OneNote renditions in MN is very impressive to my eyes. Pages look great, with all the images, tables, fonts, links, etc. All images are brought over beautifully. Links to external sites work about as you’d expect, they open MN’s internal browser or you can copy the URL to open in the browser of your choice. Unfortunately, internal links don’t work at all, so clicking on a link between ON pages just sits there.
What about updating your ON notes? Sadly, your notebooks are read-only at the moment, though they say that’s in the plans for the future. The only nod to updating is the ability to create text-only notes in MN, which then sync to a newly-created ON notebook back on your PC. But it’s something. Check out their blog for their Roadmap to the Future.
There aren’t too many, but one looks pretty good. You can have it combine your Sections and Pages together, so you you can view a section by flipping sequentially through pages via previous and next buttons at the bottom of the screen. That cuts down on navigating up/down within a section to look through all the pages by choosing from the list of page titles. It’s not perfect, but it gives you a slightly different way to get around.
- $10 for the WiFi edition (increasing to $13 on 3/7).
- Cloud edition subscription – 3 months for $5, 1 year for $15
I think the price is pretty reasonable and I was happy to pay it to get my OneNotes viewable on my iPod Touch.
Note, the “Cloud” version that lets you sync via cellular to your iPhone works a bit differently. Their website says they have to suck your ON notebooks up into their Cloud storage on their website, which then gets beamed to your iPhone. This version has a subscription fee because you’re storing data on their servers. Right now it’s 3 months for $5, 1 year for $15, though I think the price will go up a little shortly.
Finally, since this is version 1.0 software (even though they did a pretty long beta-testing), I see at least one quirk. After I sync, it looks like MN’s Windows client becomes a minimized window that sits on your screen. If you close it, it quits the application. Minimizing it does nothing. I don’t know why it hangs around instead of closing to the system tray automatically. Also, there’s a sync option in the Windows MN client (in your system tray), but that only relates to the Cloud edition. If I’ve registered for the WiFi edition, I don’t understand why they still show this option. Maybe because I just installed it, so the Cloud edition is still running in trial mode?
I’m pretty impressed with this first version. I’ll give them 3.5 stars for the functionality they provide and the current implementation. Once they work out the quirks in this release, it’ll be a 4-star application in my book. Add the ability to edit your OneNotes directly, and it’s clearly 5 stars.