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ActionNotes & Ommwriter Mini-Reviews

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ActionNotes is probably one of the best applications that I have bought for the iPad. It rapidly became a tool that I use regularly at work, providing a simple, yet effective, method to improve my workflow in an area of weakness. Weakness, you say? Do tell...

It's quite simple; I'm bad at keeping a record of meeting and the actions associated with them. I'm even worse at sending the outcome out and sharing it. ActionNotes solves this in one fell swoop by providing a simple note and action tracking tool for meetings. The default page looks like an extract from a book, and bears a strong visual resemblance to Behance's Action Method stationary (albeit not incorporating all elements of their process). You simply type notes into the page, and tap a box beside them to highlight them, and a second box to duplicate the note as a check-boxed action.

Once you have completed the meeting, you can send the notes as a beautifully formatted html email or a PDF via email. Job done. Except for tracking the actions.

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Email Example

What's Good?
The simple, direct and quick method to capture points and actions.
The extensive search and action tracking features.

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What's Bad?
Some stability issues related to longer sets of notes when you add points into the middle of a text (but getting better with each release).

What else is needed?
Bullets, Bold formatting.

Hell, yes! At less than ~£2, a superb package.

Ommwriter for iPad.
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I'm sure that I've raved on before about Ommwriter for MacOS X, but now it has a more portable counterpart: Ommwriter for iPad (£2.99 UK App Store). Naturally, I found it very hard to resist purchasing, so here are some first impressions.

What's Good?
The iPad version lifts the look and feel of the Mac application perfectly, with many of the same sound and musical effects that combine to make a focussed writing environment. It's very easy to lose yourself in the words of your text and just write with this app. Coupled with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard it's nearly perfect. However, it is still plain text only, so don't consider this if you want to have italics, bold, underlining, bullets or tables. (There's definitely a gap in the iPad market for an app other than Pages that does this and syncs to Dropbox).

The software keyboard is adjustable both in size and position, which is something that I've never seen before in an iOS app. It looks quite nice and gave me little in the way of problems at the larger size.

What's Bad?
There are a few bugs and quirks that need to be sorted out, the most important of which is that the beautifully designed unique soft keyboard doesn't work properly with the iOS spellchecker or autocorrect. An external bluetooth keyboard does work with them, which is all the more surprising.

The software keyboard doesn't remember its width if you drop into the in-app settings options, which is annoying. It also doesn't give any visual indication if a character will be typed as a capital (the iOS keyboard will let you know if you have deleted an existing capitalised character and are about to type a replacement). You also have to use the software keyboard to type filenames in the settings menus.

Two of the font selection icons are also reversed, but the function is all there.

What Else is Needed?
It'd be nice to be able to resize the text width for the column of writing that you are doing in a similar manner to the OS X application.

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The only practical way to share is via email

However, Dropbox integration is the key missing thing in Ommwriter. Even with the small flaws outlined above, it's a superior application. If I could link to a Dropbox folder, and the bugs were fixed, it'd be near-perfect.

I'd give this 4 stars and recommend it for iPad users who like to use their tablet for some creative rising. It doesn't have the features of Pages, but it doesn't need to. However, the lack of Dropbox integration does limit the ease into which it can fit into my workflow.