This week, Microsoft released its official OneNote client for the iPad. Just like the iPhone version, it’s free. Confusingly, the iPhone optimized and the iPad optimized versions are two separate apps instead of being a universal app. I honestly don’t understand the reasoning behind this at all. If they would have baked the iPad interface into the pre-existing app, any OneNote user who was suffering through the 2x scaled iPhone version would magically find their app working in full iPad mode after an update. Instead, some users might not even know the iPad version exists.
To use the app, you’ll need a free Windows Live account just to get past the first screen. Luckily, that does mean that notes sync to and from Microsoft’s servers. Here’s the catch, though: You can only keep 500 notes for free. If you’re a heavy OneNote user, you’ll need to cough up $14.99 through an in-app purchase to continue note taking. It’s not an exorbitant cost, but it certainly will turn off a certain percentage of users.
OneNote actually does a few interesting things. To-dos, bullet points, regular prose, and image captures are all stuffed inline in the same note. If you think in categories, you could easily have something like a “Holiday Note,” and keep everything relating to the holiday season in one place. The biggest downside I see is the severely limited sharing functionality. After fooling around with it, the only method of sharing a note from the app is via email — no Twitter, Facebook, or IM integration. Those are things I certainly would have liked to see.
If you’re in the market for a note taking app, OneNote might be right for you, but don’t stop there. I wholeheartedly suggest that you try Evernote and VoodooPad as well. They’re worth your time, and maybe even your hard-earned cash.