CamNote: Snap handwritten notes to the cloud in Android and iOS (review)

Summary:Even in the digital age there are those who prefer taking handwritten notes. This app with optional paper notepads use the phone camera to shoot those notes straight to popular cloud services like Evernote.

Notepad

There are a number of smartphone apps that help owners take notes on the run. Even with a selection of apps to make this easy, there are lots of folks who prefer the old-school practice of taking handwritten notes on paper. 

CamNote, available for both Android and iOS, is designed to use a smartphone camera to snap photos of handwritten notes on paper. The image of the note page is stored in the app or can be configured to automatically upload them to popular cloud services such as Evernote.

The company behind CamNote also sells paper notepads designed to optimize the image capturing in the app, but any paper will do. I've been testing CamNote using one of the pocket-sized notepads with the Android app. I am impressed with how easy it is to use the phone camera to capture my handwritten notes.

Ink note

I use Evernote so I configured CamNote to upload my notes straight to my default Evernote notebook. With the CamNote paper notepad the app uses the printed border on each page to determine the location of the note edges and automatically crop the image.

CamNote has an internal note database where all notes are stored, but it shines when used with Evernote. I snap an image of my paper note in the app and it instantly appears in my Evernote notebook.

This allows the use of Evernote's OCR to convert my handwritten notes to digital text in the background, making all CamNote notes searchable by Evernote. In the example below a search for the term "CamNote" instantly returns the appropriate note as highlighted.

Evernote and notebook producer Moleskine have teamed to offer a special notebook that does the same handwritten note capturing directly within Evernote. These special notebooks have tags that can be attached to the paper notebook pages for auto-filing in specific places in Evernote. These notebooks are very nice but a little expensive so CamNote is an alternative for the budget-minded, and for those not using Evernote.

Evernote search
CamNote note in Evernote, searchable as shown

CamNote has worked well as I have tested it in the field. The app is free for both Android and iOS phones and the special CamNote notepads are not required. Using any plain notepad with CamNote is a good way to test how well it may work for you.

Products like CamNote and the Evernote Moleskine notebook are a good fit for those using their phone in BYOD settings. You can take notes on paper as usual and get the work-related notes into the digital cloud, for free.

The CamNote paper notepads can be purchased from the developer on its web site.

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Bring Your Own Device

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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