Fetchnotes (for iPhone) review

Anyone still lamenting the loss of the Catch app will raise an eyebrow in hopeful anticipation of Fetchnotes for iPhone, a simple and straightforward note-taking app. But Fetchnotes doesn't come close to touching the king of free note-taking apps for iPhone, making it hard to recommend.

If you lamented the demise of Catch, a now-defunct note-taking application that was less than stellar, in my opinion, you should stop what you’re doing and sign up for Fetchnotes. Download the mobile app while you’re at it. The Fetchnotes iPhone app (reviewed here) works similarly to the Catch app in its early days. It’s a straightforward note-taking app without a lot of fuss and muss—just a place to jot down a few ideas and maybe share them with others. Simple and straightforward may be Fetchnotes’ highlight, but a crippling lack of features is the downside. It’s so easy to point out in-demand features that are missing (boldface type, is one example; bullet points is another), and that I think many users will be disappointed with Fetchnotes after even limited use. But again, if Catch was your thing, then you just might like Fetchnotes, despite its limitations.

In Fetchnotes, hashtags typed inline become tags. “At” symbols typed before a name cause the app to pull up that person’s contact information so you can share a note.

The interface is decidedly simple. You can start a new note by pressing a green button with a pen and paper icon in it. Then, type away. Press the menu button, and you have two primary options: Feed (a list of all your notes) and Archive (a list of your archived notes). In the Feed view, you see a few preview lines of each note. Swipe any note preview from right to left, and it will be sent to the archive. A search icon at the top right lets you search for words in your notes as well as hashtags typed into the notes. Search does not include names of people with whom you’ve shared notes.

What’s missing is, well, everything else you’ll find in Evernote, our Editors’ Choice among note-taking apps for the iPhone. Maybe you don’t like Evernote’s interface, which is decidedly more complex than Fetchnotes’, but if you take a lot of notes, there are features you’ll simply wish you had that are lacking in Fetchnotes.

For example, I couldn’t get very far in note-taking without having bullet points or the ability to set type in boldface. I don’t always need the checkboxes that Evernote provides, but if I need to write a list, I do. And I like the that the option is at my fingertips. In meetings and at conferences, I love that I can upload a photo of a whiteboard or projected slide using Evernote, and then have any text that appears in those images become fully searchable. With Fetchnotes, you can’t upload images. Sometimes when I’m taking notes in Evernote, I turn on the voice memo feature to record my conversation with another person. Nothing like that exists in Fetchnotes. You can’t even attach an existing image or audio recording to a note.

There’s hardly anything to Fetchnotes at all. No font selections, folder or notebook organization tools—and yet, it’s not fully a minimalistic application either, the way distraction-free writing apps are (Writebox for iPad comes to mind).

Evernote simply rules the note-taking world, which is why it’s our Editors’ Choice for iPhone note-taking apps for the iPhone. While I can see how it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, many of the features Evernote has that Fetchnotes lacks are crucial to the note-taking process. If you don’t like Evernote, Microsoft OneNote Mobile might be a better fit, particularly if you already use SkyDrive. OneNote has basic formatting options, sharing and collaboration features, and the ability to upload images.

If all you’re looking to do is keep grocery shopping lists and your daily to-dos, I’d steer you toward a task-management app (I use Awesome) rather than a note-taking app. Confused about the difference? Check out my tips for how to create better to-do lists.


Verdict
Anyone still lamenting the loss of the Catch app will raise an eyebrow in hopeful anticipation of Fetchnotes for iPhone, a simple and straightforward note-taking app. But Fetchnotes doesn't come close to touching the king of free note-taking apps for iPhone, making it hard to recommend.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc