Microsoft 'untethers' OneNote updates for iOS from Windows PCs

Microsoft 'untethers' OneNote updates for iOS from Windows PCs

Summary: Microsoft has rolled out new updates to its native OneNote for iPad and iPhone releases.


Microsoft made available on September 6 an update (version 2.1) to its OneNote app for iPhone and iPad.


The biggest new feature of the update is that now OneNote on the iPad is "untethered" from Windows PCs. That means users can create notebooks directly on the iPad and create, delete and rename sections right on the iPad, too. (Before users could do this on the iPad directly, but only in the OneNote Web App version of the application, not the native iOS one.)

Other new features in the OneNote update, according to Microsoft, include:

  • iPad support for creating new OneNote notebooks in SkyDrive
  • iPhone and iPad Japanese typing improvements that addresses previously slow responsiveness
  • Reduced OneNote download size for iPhone by more than half
  • iPhone and iPad support for automatic list detection
  • Bug fixes for iPhone and iPad

Those with OneNote already installed on their iOS devices can get the latest updates via the Updates tab in the App Store. New users can download OneNote for iPad or OneNote for iPhone from the App Store for free.

Microsoft first made available a native version of OneNote for iPhone in January 2011. It followed up in December 2011 with OneNote for the iPad.

Topics: Collaboration, iOS, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • OneNote has become... of my favorite applications, and I believe it's the one "killer desktop app" that remains in a world of mobile apps. Even though the mobile apps are getting better, desktop OneNote is incredibly functional with inking, audio/video recording, linking to other documents, and importing from other sites/sources.

    It's a highly underrated application.
    • I've never understood why Microsoft didn't market this better

      It's the ideal tool for university students and compulsive note takers.

      If I were Steve Ballmer (or his successor - the MSFT board can call me anytime), I'd be (/would have been) pushing stylus-equipped Windows tablets during the "get a new laptop for college" summer months.
      • I got my first copy of OneNote back in 2003

        I saw Bill Gates speak about it in San Diego. The whole thing had been conceived of with tablets and mind, and the concept of structuring unstructured data... I.e. being able to get the benefits of SQL with randomly typed in stuff. It definitely was a thing of love for him, probably a model for WinFS, and also definitely 9 years ahead of its time (we're looking at you, EverNote.)
      • One Note on my devices

        I'm a senior in High School and I use an Atom based Windows 8 tablet. The active digitizer is a huge advantage over the iPad for taking notes. I use my tablet to take notes in every class and the fact that one note syncs with my phone and desktop makes all the difference. If I'm away from one device, I can brush up on my notes on my phone. It's awesome.
        • Tablet ?

          Which tablet are you using? I am agonizing over the lack of OneNote inking support for iPad / Android because I cant find a windows tablet I like. I've seen bad reviews re: palm interference etc. I love One Note but need to add handwritten note taking ASAP. Looking at EverNote but hate to lose what I have already in desktop version of OneNote.
      • "If you see a stylus, they blew it."

        Tablet PC versions of Windows have supported styli since XP, and no one bought them. Surface Pro has a stylus, and no one's bought it. People just don't want to write on screens with a plastic stick.
        • I think you are still thinking about the 1990's

          Stylus technology today is much different than it was when you were growing up.
        • Tablet PCs were expensive.

          The iPad isn't, big difference.

          Traditionally, many Windows Tablets hovered between $1000-3000, and most were marketed towards businesses and could only be bought online.

          The iPad? Less than a grand, available at your local Target.

          Oh, and the Surface Pro? People are buying it, many for the pen.

          There's also that fact that only recently, has Intel created high-powered chips capable of working well within a thin and portable chasis.
          • "and the Surface Pro? People are buying it, many for the pen."

            Not THAT many. Which was my point. Windows has had tablet versions for a decade, and they haven't sold in economically viable numbers. They still aren't, but they seem to like flogging dead horses in Redmond.
          • Remember the Newton?

            I'm guessing that Apple should never have made the iPad, seeing how niche their tablet was.

            There's a difference between flogging a dead horse and repairing an old car.

            Microsoft has done the latter.

            They've followed Apple's method of restoration, by taking out what was broken, and replacing it with something better.

            There are HUGE differences between XP and 8 tablets.
      • Agreed. I am a fan

        I was happy to see managers at work using it independently. I have used a quite a bit over the last 5 years.
  • Sounds like someone in Redmond is starting to get it.

    "Before users could do this on the iPad directly, but only in the OneNote Web App version of the application" Web Apps are nice, but native is almost always better!

    A shrinking binary is good news too. It means your devs are building more efficient code (or they're no longer being hamstrung by crappy IDEs).
  • Where's the INK!

    Come on Microsoft - support ink notes on ALL OneNote platforms. That is the gold standard fro OneNote compatibility!
  • no inking capability?

    Why would OneNote be better than EverNote then?
    • Only for Existing OneNote Users

      If you already have a tablet device with a Wacom digitizer, at least you can "read" your notes on your precious iDevice...
      • Re: you can "read" your notes on your precious iDevice...

        I can read the handwritten notes from EverNote, for example if I take them down by naturally writing on paper with my Livescribe pen, or even snap them with a camera.
        Using Penultimate on the iPad I can even write notes directly on the tablet screen if I am so inclined -- there are enough precision pens for the iPad to rival Wacom... and have them processed by EverNote the same way.
        All notes OCRed in the background, searchable, available everywhere -- including in Windows.

        It seems Microsoft has chosen to constrain their growth in only their own (Windows) ecosystem.
        • Can't Let This Slide By

          I'm glad you are happy with Penultimate - I frankly hated it because you could not a precise, natural size text on paper. Nevertheless, I can't let this slide: "...there are enough precision pens for the iPad to rival Wacom..." There is NO pen in the iOS universe that can rival a Wacom, and the same goes for Windows (not even N-Trig). I've been using a Wacom with OneNote for four years - I tried every major capacitive pen on an iPad to get the same result - you can get close with special software that makes you write in an enlarged text box that "shrinks" the text to normal size, BUT you cannot just write on screen in a natural size, as you can with any Wacom enabled system - be it Windows or Android (Galaxy Notes).
          • MS neutered the pen on Win8...

            MS ~inexplicably neutered the pen on Win8, they replaced the well honed self resizing/auto popup and auto expanding interface they had with 2 lines designed for finger input on a capacitive screen.

            I guess that works for children writing with in a 100 pt font with their fingers, but for those of us with a Wacom pen, and used to an interface that works, invokes outrage and usually invokes reverting to win7.
            Gregory J. McGee
  • Microsoft contstrained like constipation.

    That is the problem with Microsoft stuff.

    Like everyone, they want to own you. And being able to live in the past they prefer to offer less.
  • Finally

    Microsoft needs to realize the are first and foremost a software company and serve their customers. They also need to hurry up with other office apps for IOS and Android.