I watched one video about Good Notes 4 and I was hooked! I love this app! It’s fantastic!
The writing in Good Notes 4 is surprisingly natural without too much auto correction on the lines. It’s smooth without being too smooth and simple to use. With how natural the writing feels and the use of the zoom feature it makes it even easier to write and use withing a limited space without making it uncomfortable or weird.
My only gripe is a lack of pen styles to choose from. With my messy handwriting and the fact that I have a tendency to switch between cursive and print as I write after years of rush rush rush in high school that never left my hand’s memory, there are particular pens that look better, neater and more legible when I write with them such as a standard slanted calligraphy pen.
I have a person preference for fountain and calligraphy pens that are sharp and/or slanted at certain angles. Most digital art or doodling apps provide these pens and it seems with their forever growing popularity a lot more note taking apps also have these pens. NoteShelf 2 for example has these pens with a lot of similar tools to Good Notes 4. If calligraphy pens are important to you, I suggest you skip this app in favour of NoteShelf or Noteshelf 2.
Good Notes 4’s idea of a fountain pen is a pen with pressure sensitivity but to me a fountain pen has always been a slimmer and shorter width calligraphy pen with rich strokes. I like the elliptical tip shape of a lot of fountain pens so I was disappointed. I have been using Adobe Draw to fulfil my calligraphy cravings when I feel like playing around with pens or Procreate.
I am sure (Though I haven’t researched it) that it uses vector because of how the tools behave and function, which has me even more impressed. Vector overtime lags. It’s inevitable. I am using Good Notes 4 on an iPad Pro 12.9 inch 64GB. I didn’t buy it outright I got it through Optus like a phone plan. There is zero lag when using Good Notes and I am not sure if there is a page limit, but I doubt I will ever reach it. As you use it and write with it, it feels like you are creating an ebook and it even exports as PDF or image file or it’s native Good Notes file for sharing your documents. In this post I will share an image version of the draft to this blog post. In the past I used to pre-write my blog posts so I could get all of my thoughts out better and more organised. Currently I am doing this in Good Notes 4, Notability and Noteshelf 2. Just for the sake of testing it out. So far, Notability is the clear winner.
Below is a draft for this post in image format. The image export is clean and crisp as I would expect. After exploring a lot of apps both paid and free, it seems image export is not a common option which makes little sense to me. As you can see, because of my writing, I prefer to write on grid paper to contain myself and my spacing. I then like to turn the template off and make it look like I’ve written on blank paper like I normally would in a regular art book.
But before I get too carried away in my excitement lets just back up to what I was talking about. There’s no lag. Even when drawing. In the handwritten post to this I wrote there was, I found it was actually another app in the background causing the lag which I usually have turned off but at the time I was quite tired. There’s no lag even when drawing in Good Notes 4 which is great. In Notepad + there was lag or other various issues and intrusive adds. And honestly for the price of Notepad + ($30.99 AUD) you still don’t even get half the amount of tools and functionality and options as Good Notes 4 or Notability. Two apps that even if bought together, don’t add up to the full cost of Notepad+.
In other apps, the lag can cause a mangled mess of squiggles and lines if you write or draw too fast. Even if shape drawing is turned off. This is not an issue with Good Notes, even if you have shape drawing turned on.
With this in mind, I must give credit to the shape drawing assistant. I have thoroughly enjoyed it’s auto correction when drawing shapes and lines. As an artist, and still a webcomic artist and now amateur animator, I frequently make mind maps and diagrams. I often make the good old classic “Yes” “No” maps when I need to simplify a character and their reactions whenever I get stuck. This option is invaluable and incredibly frustrating to use in other apps. Good Notes, Notability and Noteshelf 2 have mastered this tool. With other apps such as Evernote, the feature can become irritating and tedious. These three apps have found a way to make it work right and work for you not against you.
Which brings me to the highlighter option. You can get realistic highlight effects in Good Notes and the other apps but with the assistance of the shape drawing tool, you can highlight in accurate straight lines as you work. Not a lot of apps get it right but Good Notes have nailed it. It both feels and looks realistic, with a decent variety of colours to choose from as well as the option to choose custom colours just as with the pens.
A lot of other note taking apps tend to limit their highlight colour choices between 4 and 8 without the option to choose your own custom colours. If you’re lucky you can get 8 colours to pick from. If using highlighters is an important feature for you whether it’s for note taking or study, this app might be perfect for you. It’s very easy to import ebooks from what I saw, or use photo’s or even scanned images of text or whatever it is you need to use a highlighter on and just start marking out and annotating. I personally import my own drawings, annotate over or near them and link them into my mind maps and highlight the pathways in a colour code using different colours for either personality or emotions depending on the theme of the map. Good Notes and Notability has pretty much replaced notebooks for me.
I am also loving the page template choices. I love thick and wide ruled lines in notebooks being short sighted but once I discovered the zoom feature I no longer had to worry about my handwriting size and squinting. It is an ideal feature for me to be able to bring in my own templates even if it’s already in the list available, the fact that I can import what I like to use and just start using it is a wonderful feature.
Like I mentioned earlier I am an artist, so I often need to use storyboards or storyboard templates. In the past I would set this up with Clip Studio or photoshop but I prefer book style apps like this. I don’t always want to have to get on my PC to storyboard. Sometimes I just want to sit somewhere comfortable to write and draw, which isn’t always an option and I don’t always have the necessary amount of books or paper or pens. Using apps like this eliminates a lot of cost and clutter and has improved my production and overall work and story making abilities.
When I didn’t have an iPad, for a long time there I was using an app called Paper by Fifty Three. Now I just use that app for fun doodles. It’s just not quite the same as using Good Notes. I’m absolutely in love with it. I enjoy the cover choices but I am starting to favour Notability more with the option to use custom cover art designs using my own art and the tabbing and category options. I will still use Good Notes a lot but Notability is quickly taking over as the main favourite.
One thing Good Notes has over Notability is the ability to export your pages as images. This is extremely important to me for various reasons. PDF is idea for a lot of things but being an artist, I have a lot of image and drawing based posts which would be better suited to image exports for online hosting and basic displaying purposes online.
I am sure there are other features I have yet to find and use such as the search feature. I even think you can add audio recordings, I am not sure yet, but I do know you can add text as well which is useful. For the price and the functionality, Good Notes 4 is a well made and robust app that’s well worth buying and using on a daily basis.