Jack Wallen takes a look at BeNote, an Android application that does a great job of simplifying the process of creating complex notes.
Tablet use has began to infiltrate many areas, including schools, doctor's offices, and PC field support. Many of these require the ability to take quick and efficient notes. And while there are plenty of note-taking tools out there, very few of them are as good as BeNote.
BeNote is an evolved note-taking application that focuses on simplicity, and it's been designed from the ground up to make note taking more efficient. You can include the following things in your notes:
- Key points (with images, snapshots, or sketches)
- Action items
After trying BeNote, you'll see that it's a thorough note-taking tool, efficient for any type of user. However, BeNote approaches note-taking a bit differently. Instead of just having a notepad-like app where you immediately start drawing or typing, you can do the following:
- Create Topics
- Create Notes
- Add Key Points to notes
- Add Questions to notes
- Add Decisions to notes
- Add Action Items to notes
- Add Participants, Dates, Images, and Keywords to Action Items and other entries
After you've added the various elements to the note, you can then go back, add/edit elements, and review the note by filtering the note in review mode. BeNote does a great job of simplifying the process of creating complex notes.
Let's install BeNote, and then we'll walk through the process of how to create a note.
There are two versions of BeNote:
- Free: Limits you to 20 notes
- Paid: The full version costs $1.99 (USD) and offers unlimited notes
To install BeNote, follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for "benote" (no quotes)
- Tap the entry for the version you want to install
- If installing the free version, tap Install, and then tap Accept & download
- If installing the full version, tap the price, and then tap Accept & buy
Once it's installed, you'll find the BeNote icon in your app drawer. Tap on the icon to launch the app.
UsageThe first step in using BeNote is to create topics. Topics are essentially categories for your notes. By default, there's a General topic. You create topics by tapping the plus sign [+] under the All Topics section (Figure A). Figure A
BeNote as seen on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.
After you tap the plus sign [+], a new overlay will open where you can select a color for the topic and give the topic a name. Do this, and then tap Done to finalize the topic.
Continue creating topics until you have all the necessary topics. Now, it's time to begin adding notes to topics. Here's how to do this:
- Tap the topic you want to add the note to
- Tap Add Note from the Notes screen (Figure B)
- Tap the Subject area and give the new note a name
The Subject area is the small rectangle in the left pane labeled Subject.
With the note created, you can now add the various items. Along the top of the Notes window, you'll find icons for the following (from left to right):
- Participants: Keep track of people associated with your note
- Key Points: Add bullet points (including images, snapshots, sketches)
- Questions: Ask a question (to be answered within the app) regarding the note
- Decisions: A decision to be made, regarding the note, at a specific date and time
- Action Items: A list of actionable items to include with your note
You might have to minimize your keyboard in order to see the different items.
After a note is complete, it might be challenging to navigate because it's filled with so many items and sub-items. Fortunately, BeNote has made it simple to filter through these items. By placing a note in Review Mode, you can examine only certain types of items within a note.
Here's how to place a note in Review Mode:
- Open the note in question
- Tap the Review button in the upper right corner
- Tap the type of item to list in the Review header (Figure D)
At this point, you can also add a summary to your note.
BeNote stands above most other note-taking tools. However, since you can't just open BeNote and instantly start handwriting or typing notes, you might not find it as immediately helpful as others. For me, BeNote allows me to keep the various aspects of my personal and professional life organized on the go... and that's no easy feat!