When iOS 9 was released, the Notes app was revamped and added a huge list of new features, making it a compelling alternative to popular third-party note-taking apps such as Evernote. Notes has remained largely untouched since then, adding Apple Pencil support with the iPad Pro. However, iOS 11, takes Notes to a totally new level.

Notes for iOS 11 offers a lot of new features, including users have more control over their formatting; they can scan in documents from the camera; and they have the ability to make in-line drawings with the Apple Pencil.

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We’ll delve into some of what’s new with Notes for iOS 11, and present step-by-step instructions on how to take advantage of these features.

1: Instant notes

Taking advantage of the Apple Pencil support, the iPad now features the ability to instantly start taking a note simply by waking your iPad, and then tapping the Apple Pencil to the lock screen. This action will automatically open a new note in drawing mode and will save the completed note when you’re done.

This is a great feature when you’re taking notes or doing a drawing with the Apple Pencil inside of the Notes app.

SEE: The Complete iOS 11 Developer Course (TechRepublic Academy)

2: Document scanner

One of the most significant features added to the new Notes app is the ability to capture a “scan” of a document using the camera on the iOS device. This feature works surprisingly well and is far more advanced than most third-party document scanning apps.

To use the document scanning features in the new Notes app, follow these steps.

  1. Create or open an existing note.
  2. In the toolbar above the keyboard (or if the keyboard is not visible, at the bottom of the new or existing note), you’ll see a plus sign (+) inside of a circle. Tap the plus sign.
  3. In the sheet that appears, select Scan Documents (Figure A).

Figure A

By default, you’re entered into Auto mode (you can tap Auto at the top of the screen to move to Manual and vice versa). In Auto mode, holding the device above a piece of paper you wish to scan will automatically snap a photo of the paper when the scanner determines it has a good enough photo (Figure B). With Manual mode, you’ll have to manually tap the shutter button to capture the photo.

Figure B

The capture editor will try to correct for off-angle photos and will attempt to determine the paper’s edges; if the edges cannot be determined, you will be prompted to drag a box around the edges.

You can capture as many images as you wish, and it will be stitched together into the same PDF document, which can easily be shared via email or using the collaborative note-editing feature.

After tapping Save in the bottom toolbar of the capture editor, you will be returned to the note with the captures saved. Tapping on the capture will open an editor that lets you apply various filters and corrections to the scanned document (Figure C).

Figure C

3: Improved formatting options

Last year, Notes added a feature that allowed users to add drawings to notes, but they weren’t previewed in line as you might expect–that changed with this new release of the Notes app. Now when you create a new drawing, the drawing will appear in line with the text (Figure D).

Figure D

There are also many new formatting options. When entering text, the toolbar above the keyboard will display a Table button that allows you to insert a table into the note’s body, which is great for entering small bits of tabular data. For advanced calculations, you still need to use Numbers or Excel.

Tapping on the text formatting button (“Aa”) will present you with many new formatting options as well: There’s new options for the Monospaced paragraph style, the ability to do Underline or Strikethrough formatting, and the ability to increase or decrease the indention (Figure E).

Figure E

4: Note pinning

Notes can now be pinned to the top of the Notes list. This feature is great for a note that needs to be accessed frequently, such as instructions, a list of phone numbers, or a shopping list.

To pin a note in the Notes listing, swipe on the note title from left to right, and continue swiping or tap on the pin icon. This will create a new section in the notes listing for Pinned Notes, and the swiped note and any future notes will appear in this section.

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