Sunday, June 03, 2012

Taking Notes at Night with Notability

It's strange, but I seem to log a lot of night flights in the summer months in spite of the late sunset. The iPad mostly makes flying at night easier ... mostly. Aviation-related apps I use provide screen-dimming features, but one (pardon the pun) notable exception is Penultimate, heretofore my favorite note-taking app. The sensible thing seemed to be to send a feature request to the developers of Penulimate for an inverse, "night mode." That request met with an unconvincing "great idea!" sort of response, so I went with plan B. I tried unsuccessfully to create a black background custom page for Penultimate. Lucky for me a CFI candidate recently showed me Notability, an iPad app that has a few more features and easily solves the night mode issue.

Notability comes with a complete, simple guide to help you master all the features. You may not need all those features in the cockpit, but they might come in handy if you're a student or have other interests outside of aviation. The main difference between Notability and Penultimate is that you can store all sorts of information on the page in Notability - photos you've taken, images, web pages, and audio recordings, just to name just a few.

Back to my nighttime problem, Penultimate is just too bright and turning down the screen brightness helps, but doesn't solve the ploblem.

There is a global night mode available in iOS under Settings->General->Assessibility which inverts the iPad screen colors when you tripple click on the Home key, but doing this has the unfortunate side effect of making aviation charts look odd.

Notability lets you organize multiple groups of notes by Category and Subject, which is similar to Penultimate's notebooks containing one or more pages. So I grouped notes for my students based on the certificate or rating they're pursuing and then by their name. And if you need to rearrange them later, it's child's play.

For a low entry price, I was quickly able to solve my nighttime note-taking problem by selecting a black background page and a light colored pen.

Remember that whatever page background you select is globally applied to your entire subject, not just a single page. Not really a problem and the results at night are just what the doctor ordered. And there is something about the way Notability accepts fingertip input that (dare I say it?) seems to make my handwriting more readable.

And lucky for you and me, Notability is currently on sale for just $0.99. Check it out!

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