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

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.

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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

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6 comments
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  • Being able to convert handwritten text into type is a plus.

    I am impressed with the synergy demonstrated in using this app in conjunction with Evernote. I didn't know about this Evernote text conversion feature. Thanks, James.

    But for iOS device users, cloud synching or storage really isn't an issue. If I take a snapshot of a handwritten note, I have the ability to automatically synch that photo to all my iOS and OS X devices thru the iCloud Photo Stream option. Granted, I can't sort on those photos but, in practice - and I have done this in the past - if I take a photo of something as a reminder than that photo will be used only one time and then it's usefulness has been accomplished. Rarely would I need to go back to that photo months or years later. Still, that photo is stored in my photo apps and placed in the "Photo Stream" section so in that respect, this snapshot is sorted automatically.
    kenosha77a
    • Well, isn't that just iOS special then...

      I guess I will have to switch...imagine auto-cloud backup, when will Android finally catch up?!?
      jivester
  • Isn't CamNote Unnecessary?

    Just open Evernote, tap plus sign to open a blank note, tap on camera icon, snap image of the handwritten notes, tap checkmark, done. Saved in Evernote, saved to cloud. No additional app or paper notebook needed.
    Jambix
    • RE: Isn't CamNote Unnecessary? No, it's good. worth giving it a go!

      Got the app, n ordered myself a notebook (A5). When I first heard about it, I thought 'What's the point?' - just like you. But after using it, it's nothing like 'integrating grapes with grape jelly' lol.

      It's actually really good for digitising notes. I used to snap notes using Evernote, but with CamNote, my notes come out a lot more legible, and the synchronisation with Evernote and Google Drive really does save me a tad bit of time.

      I love Evernote, so I'd say, download the CamNote app, sync it to your Evernote, n give it a try. If you don't like it, there's probably 100,000 other note apps you can use. :)
      MrAndyDavis
    • You have to use it to know how good it is!

      Jambix - CamNote is good. trust me. I had doubts at first, but I have used it and bought a notebook from the CamNote website. they work so well together. I say - try it - if you don't like it, there's a billion other writing/note/scanning apps out there lol
      RobJohn100
  • CamNote is great! Especially the new update!

    The new update makes its great! I thought it was good before, but now it is one of my favourite apps! I just deleted a lot of apps off of my phone, but CamNote is a must have!
    RobJohn100