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Working with OneNote’s Mobile Solution for the iPhone: MobileNoter



img_1070I’m lucky to be participating in the Beta for an iPhone mobile solution for OneNote called : MobileNoter. Yes, it’s an iPhone app that allows you to sync Notebooks between your desktop and your iPhone. It’s early in the Beta but so far I’m impressed.

Here’s a bit about how it is working currently.

MobileNoter installs on your iPhone, and you have to have a desktop (Tablet top?) client installed as well. MobileNoter creates a new Notebook on your computer called simply Mobile Noter. Under that Notebook you have a Mobile Notes section. The corresponding Notebook on your iPhone is called Mobile Noter as well. Anything that you jot down (no there’s no Inking on the iPhone) gets synced between these two folders. You jot these notes down via Quick Notes on the iPhone app, which as the name implies allows you to capture a quick note. Of course you can select other Notebooks to sync up as well. In my early testing, I’ve created a Mobile Test Notebook and am working with that as my primary sync folder.

Inking shows up well in the iPhone app, as you can see from the image below. You do have to use the iPhone’s multi-touch features to expand any page you want to view as everything appears very tiny in its native format. I have not synced any audio or video yet, but pictures do come across as displayed on the OneNote page.

This has been a long time coming for OneNote.   EverNote has leapt ahead of OneNote on multiple platforms, especially the iPhone where it is always listed as a favorite app. I’m anxious to see how MobileNoter continues to develop in the future. It is still way early in the Beta process, and I’m sure there is more to come, but for the moment MobileNoter gives those of us who love OneNote a chance to have our OneNote data when we’re out and about from our computers.

For Inkers, OneNote is certainly a better experience than EverNote. Evernote does allow you to Ink notes and I use that feature quite a bit. But for taking lots of notes, the OneNote Inking experience is far better in my opinion. EverNote hasn’t quite forgotten the Inkers out there, but I get the sense that they are devoting resources in other areas currently, and this may give the OneNote and MobileNoter teams the opening they need.

At least among those of us who value taking notes in Ink.

The first three pictures are from the iPhone app. The last two from the Desktop client.








  1. Rob

    08/25/2009 at 10:29 am

    Looks really good! The OneNote team at Microsoft isn’t working on this, are they? My understanding is that this is third party app and they are not part of the OneNote team.

  2. Warner Crocker

    08/25/2009 at 10:30 am

    You may be right and I may be wrong, Rob. I’ll find out and then correct.

  3. Warner Crocker

    08/25/2009 at 10:33 am

    Corrections made and apologies.

  4. Rob

    08/25/2009 at 10:42 am

    could be a pretty significant app. my biggest concern here is once the OneNote team finally (if ever) releases something, what this could mean for the mobilenoter app. Surely the OneNote team would include built-in syncing that Office 2010 is bringing.

  5. Lukasz

    08/25/2009 at 10:45 am

    Any word on Office OneNote 2010 online? Apparently Microsoft is taking a “holistic” approach with accessibility to OneNote data from the desktop, web, and mobile. Also the mobile version is supposed to get some much needed improvements.

    Any word on any of these claims from Redmond?

  6. Warner Crocker

    08/25/2009 at 10:49 am

    @Lukasz No word that I’ve heard.
    @Rob The question for the OneNote team is will they truly make it multi-platform?

  7. Vitaly

    08/25/2009 at 11:37 am

    Great review, Warner! Just one comment, you do not need to sync “Mobile Noter” notebook back to iPhone, as it is created especially for Quick Notes. First section from in this notebook synced two-way with Quick Notes on iPhone. We will probably remove it from notebooks selection in sync client to avoid confusion.

  8. Warner Crocker

    08/25/2009 at 11:39 am

    Thanks, Vitaly.

  9. scoobie

    08/25/2009 at 4:49 pm

    Key questions for me
    -Can it search?
    -Can it deal with tags?
    – When, when , when!?! (ASAP please)

    Looks impressive , I never thought inking and pictures would come through onto the iphone

  10. Vitaly

    08/25/2009 at 8:28 pm

    – search will present in second major release
    – tags are imported to iphone as pictures. so you can see them, but cannot navigate pages by tags as in OneNote.
    – we hope first verison will appear in Appstore by the end of September.

  11. Mary Branscombe

    08/26/2009 at 5:19 am

    Can I ask, have you used the OneNote Mobile app for Windows Mobile and if so, how does it compare to that? Does it do more? Does the notebook MobileNoter creates sync to other OneNote machines? (ON Mobile is limited to the PC you physically connect to in 2007 but that changes in 2010). I suppose I’m really asking, does MobileNoter catch iPhone users up to Windows Mobile or does it set the standard for what you want a mobile OneNote to do?

    Re Office 2010: check out the Office team blogs to see that Office Web apps will run on phone browsers from Office Live, announcing and going into public trial this fall.

    • Warner Crocker

      08/26/2009 at 6:20 am


      I have but not in some time. As I recall, this compares very favorably in terms of syncing. To be honest, I just don’t recall if OneNote Mobile showed you Ink or not on your mobile device. (I’m in the middle of a really busy week and my brain is just not hitting on all cylinders.)

      One difference is that you can sync any notebook in OneNote with MobileNoter. In OneNote you were restricted to one Notebook as I recall.

  12. Vitaly

    08/26/2009 at 11:40 am

    Mary, we compared OneNote Mobile with MobileNoter in MobileNoter blog.

  13. ethibault

    08/26/2009 at 1:08 pm

    I am sorry I am confused :

    1) you say :
    “no there’s no Inking on the iPhone”

    2) you say :

    “But for taking lots of notes, the OneNote Inking experience is far better in my opinion” and you seem to imply
    that you can take notes on the iphone

    => my question :
    “did you write the note that appears as the 3rd screen copy with the iphone or is it only a synchronised document of one you wrote on a tablet pc” ?

  14. Warner Crocker

    08/26/2009 at 1:53 pm

    To be clear. There is no Inking on the iPhone in MobileNoter or Evernote. I was referring to the Inking experience on a Tablet PC. Those Inked documents are then synced over.

  15. scoobie

    08/26/2009 at 4:45 pm

    Wow, just saw the blog, these guys look serious.

    Can’t help but think what will the impact of Office online will be?

    But I guess the big selling point here is Mobilenoter will store stuff offline? Am I right? Is this the key thing ehre versus Microsoft’s new web onenote?

    Incidently , I am all for an Android version of this too please.

  16. ethibault

    08/26/2009 at 4:55 pm

    “There is no Inking on the iPhone in MobileNoter or Evernote”

    too bad :-(
    one could think that with a capacitive screen the iphone could be good at it, am I wrong ?

  17. scoobie

    08/26/2009 at 5:08 pm

    that’s an interesting question, I’d be interested in the answer

  18. scoobie

    08/26/2009 at 5:13 pm

    Question on syncing – is it seemless?

    Preferably , I don’t want to have to keep booting the sync agent to sync the two devices.

    Ideally I’d like the option for me to just be working at my PC and I click on the Mobilenote application on my iphone, and that way it syncs automatically, detecting that the wireless “home” is near.

    Also I’m nervous if my notes are being stored on an external server – have I understood this right? What is the role of the external server in this? I’d have thought the iphone could sync direct to the client app and onwards to onenote itself

    How does syncing work?

  19. scoobie

    08/26/2009 at 8:20 pm

    thanks for your reply.
    Don’t forget ON tags are used to prioritse and structure information in a three dimensional way.
    So in my opinion tags need to be searchable.
    For instance, all my most important notes are tagged with a “review” icon. It would be useful to search through these “review” tags on the iphone.
    Adding tags however, I guess I could live without in the short term, though ideally I’d like that too!

  20. Vitaly

    08/26/2009 at 10:08 pm

    Inking: this can be done, and we will do if users ask. But I have a feeling that this is rather a ‘toy’ feature for iPhone, isn’t it? Do you know any iPhone app where pointing by finger is made as good so it can be practically used for daily note taking?
    Syncing: I will new post about it on mobilenoter blog
    @scoobie, thanks for your suggestions

  21. ethibault

    08/27/2009 at 6:10 pm

    inking on iphone would be a killer app !
    imagine you have a notebook all the time with you
    you can sort them etc.

    because when you note on paper after what do you do with them ?

  22. bluespapa

    08/29/2009 at 10:47 am

    The Palm Pre has a similar capacitive touch, and there’s a third party app that emulates PalmOS designed for resistive technology. A third party app for PalmOS for touch drawing, Diddlebug, works, but I find it frustrating. The lines aren’t really good enough to jot a number or not down, even with a capcitive jotter pen.

    That said, there’s a beta drawing program for the Pre that’s more accurate, but the lines are too thick to permit writing useful notes, and you can’t save them.

    If the thickness of the lines were controlable, and it were accurate enough to read, ABSOLUTELY it would be ESSENTIAL to a OneNote-type app. One of the best things about my old Palm device was that I could jot a phone number or date FAST in situations where typing or even writing with Palm script is frustrating, and carrying pen and paper defeats the whole purpose of having digitized notes.

    THIS IS NOT A NOVELTY TOY. This vital, especially if I can get it all synced effortlessly into my OneNote notebooks.

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