What was the title of that book I wanted to read again? What was that brilliant blog post idea that I had while riding the train? Where was that great deal that I spotted for a new microwave? We all have little ideas and tidbits of information that we need to remember, but we often struggle with finding a good way to remember them.
The “old school” way would be to carry around a pad of paper and a pen, jotting down notes as needed, but we live in the digital age now. One of the very many notepad apps available on the Google Android platform is Catch Notes, which is able to synchronize with your online account at Catch. In some respects, it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it does offer some features that may make it better for you than many other notetaking applications.
Never Miss an Idea
The concept is a familiar one. Catch Notes is a digital notepad. Whenever you have something you want to remember, you simply open up the app and write a note. The note is saved locally, but like some other similar apps (e.g. Evernote), it is also saved to the cloud for web access elsewhere. This includes through the web-based interface on your computer, as well as across your other mobile devices.
The notes themselves can be thought of as separate pages, but they’re not restricted just to text. You can attach voice messages and images to each note too, which is particularly handy when it comes to tasks like comparison shopping. Sometimes, it’s just easier to say something or to take a photo than it is to take the time to write it all out — especially on a smartphone with a limited keypad. What’s more, you can attach multiple images and voice records to any note.
As you can see in the above screenshot, Catch Notes can function in a dual-pane layout with compatible devices, allowing you to simultaneously see your list of notes, as well as the information within an individual note. In this case, I made a sample note with a photo and a short text description. You’ll also notice that there is an option to “star” a note, highlighting it for later discovery.
Streams and Inline Tagging for Organization
Of course, just having an extremely long list of disorganized notes is arguably worse than not having any notes at all. You need a way to manage them and Catch Notes does that too.
First, there is something called a “stream.” In many ways, you can think of these “streams” as categories for your notes. So, you might set up a stream called “shopping list” and another stream called “work projects.” It’s really up to you and, of course, you can create a whole bunch of streams to better categorize the notes you’ll be taking.
Catch Notes also uses tags. If you’re on Twitter, then you’ll feel very comfortable with this system, because it works exactly the same way as a hashtag. Instead of attaching tags to a post, you do it all inline with the “#” symbol. If we use the example of a “shopping list” stream above, you can use inline tags for #groceries, #clothes, and #tech. So, you might have a note that reads, “Two pounds of Granny Smith apples #groceries.”
When you tap on any of these hashtags, it will bring up all the items that contain that tag. Again, this feels just like Twitter in many ways, except it has to do with your private notes. You can also filter by chronology and priority. And to further your privacy, it is also possible to add a four-digit passcode for added security.
Collaborate with Shared Spaces
Your notes are mostly a personal thing, working as reminders and such, but what if you want to share some of these notes with your friends, colleagues and family members? Catch Notes does that too.
By default, each of your “streams” is set to private so that only you can view and edit the items saved inside. However, you can also invite “stream participants” to collaborate on that stream. This is still secure and only those invited can participate in the stream. You might share your shopping list stream with your significant other, for example, so that you don’t both go and buy those two pounds of apples. You might share a project stream with a co-worker too, for instance, so you can work on the details of your own upcoming Android app together.
An Advanced Note-Taking App
You have tons of options when it comes to notepad apps. Some of them are as simple as digital sticky notes that reside only on your phone. Others may allow for some finger doodling or image attachments. As far as features go, Catch Notes is perhaps one of the more robust offerings.
The user interface is largely going to a matter of personal preference, and some people are already very invested in the environment of something like Evernote, so making the switch might not be ideal. Since Catch isn’t as well-known of a company, you may not have as much faith in its web storage, but it is nice that you can view your notes both online and offline. I like the Twitter-inspired inline tags too.
Considering that Catch Notes is free through the Google Play Store, you don’t have much to lose for giving it a try. You can use it without a Catch account, but then you don’t get the synchronization feature. Alternatively, you can create a Catch account or connect it to either your Google or your Facebook. There are also upgrades to Catch Pro (for up to 10 spaces, up to 1GB of monthly uploads and PDF/Office attachment support) and Catch Premier (up to 50 spaces and 5GB of new monthly content), should you feel so inclined. Catch is also available for iPhone and iPad, for all the iPeople in the audience.
Michael Kwan is a published author, freelance writer and professional gadget geek. He blogs six times a week at Beyond the Rhetoric, and yes, he can write for you too.