Outline review: The best note-taking app around

£8.99
Price when reviewed

Everyone writes notes, but some note takers are more obsessive than others. If you’re a casual note taker on iOS, there are plenty of options, from the (very good in iOS 9) built-in Notes app through to big names like Evernote and Microsoft’s OneNote.

If you’re a note-taking obsessive, though, you’ll often find that these apps are much more simple than their desktop cousins. That’s not down to the capabilities of iPhones or iPads – after all, these platforms happily handle other powerful software – so what do you do if you want a more powerful note taking app? This is the space which Gorillized want to fill with Outline.

Open up a notebook and you’ll find that Outline has three levels of organisation: Notebooks, Sections, and Pages. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because it is very similar to the structure Microsoft OneNote uses.

In fact, for anyone who has used OneNote, there’s a lot you’ll find that’s very similar. That’s not to say that Outline is a simple clone of OneNote, but it’s clearly designed around the same metaphors and the same visual look and feel.

It goes a little further than looking like OneNote, too. In fact, Outline can open, read and write to OneNote notebooks stored on OneDrive or SharePoint.

Of course, you can do all this with the Microsoft Outlook client, which will cost you nothing. So why pay £8.99 for Outline? Put simply, Outline is to OneNote what Word is to to WordPad – it’s a far more powerful option.

First, there’s syncing. Unlike OneNote, which understandably ties you to OneDrive, you can store your Outline notebooks on Dropbox, iCloud or Box, or even sync them through iTunes if you prefer a non-cloud solution.

Once created, almost every other option is also much more powerful than OneNote. For example, Outline allows you to create Tables of Contents for sections or whole notebooks, something you can’t do with OneNote. There’s also great support for handwritten notes using a stylus. Tap the Pen icon in a note and you get a handwriting panel at the bottom of the screen.

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This handwriting panel has a “palm rest” area, where you can put your palm if you’re using a pen that doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in. It’s a really well thought-out feature that’s typical of the attention to detail the developers have included all the way through the app.

For anyone who wants a powerful note taking application for iOS, Outline is the best I’ve seen, particularly if you’re used to OneNote. Is it worth £8.99 when you can get OneNote for free? If you’re a demanding user, or simply want something like OneNote that doesn’t require you to use OneDrive, the answer is an emphatic yes.

For more app reviews, read our guide to the best iOS apps of 2015 and the best Android apps for 2015

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