Review: SymNote


Given that smartphones have supplanted PDAs, they need to be up to every sort of PIM duty, including note taking. While Symbian has the venerable Notes application, it’s something of a data silo. That is, unless you are fortunate enough to use and understand SyncML services. For those who don’t even know what those are, then perhaps SymNote by Talv Bansal will be of interest. It’s a note taking application which synchronises to the SimpleNote cloud service. Read on for our review.

Author: Talv Bansal

Version Reviewed: 1.1.0

Buy Link | Download / Information Link

If you haven’t heard of SimpleNote, it’s a popular plain text note taking service (so I’m told). Android and iOS already have supporting applications. To balance things out, the developer of SymFTP and SymPaper stepped in, by popular demand, to create a Symbian client.

There are alternatives to SimpleNote which give much more functionality, e.g. Evernote. However, there is something to be said for just having a simple plain text editor connected to the cloud. I have always found rich-text note applications are too fiddly for the context in which they’re meant to be used; i.e. quick-fire note taking. If you really need rich text functionality, then take a look at Quickoffice 7, which now supports Google Docs and Dropbox.

When first launched, SymNote asks whether you’d like to automatically synchronise with SimpleNote or synchronise manually. Don’t worry though, the option can be changed anytime.

Launching SymNote for the first time.

Once synchronised, your notes are listed in chronological order, with the most recently edited item at the top. One of SimpleNote’s features is pinning notes to the top of the pile. SymNote supports this, and denotes pinned items with a star.

The user interface design of SymNote is strongly influenced by Symbian Belle. There’s a very narrow status bar at the top, and a toolbar along the bottom. From left to right, the toolbar features: Exit, Add note, Tag filter, Main menu.

From the latter, you can initiate a sync and change your synchronisation options. There’s also a sub-menu to set which notes to view; All, Active, Deleted, and Un-synced notes.

The main list and choosing which list to view

While editing a note, tags can be added, which is the only organisational feature to be found with SimpleNote. The only niggle I had was an issue with switching back and forth between views. For instance, choose a tag to view, then choose the All notes view. After this, tag filters won’t work. The only quick-fix is to restart the application. I expect this is something that will be fixed in the next version though.

Speaking of tags, a handy feature of SimpleNote is that another user can view any notes that you tag with their email address. Therefore, collaborative note taking can be done via SimpleNote and SymNote.

In note view, the toolbar changes to fit the context. The four icons become: Back, Save, Information, and a menu. I particularly liked the range of options for rolling back changes. You can undo all your changes, return to list view losing all changes, and there’s an option to ‘Re-Fetch’ (but the effect of this wasn’t clear when I tested it). In addition, the note can be searched (the first match is automatically selected), and the note can be pinned or unpinned.

Selecting text and using the clipboard

Editing notes does not present any hurdles, and is helped along with support for split-screen keyboards. A long press and drag over text triggers a similar text selection method as found in Opera Mobile; i.e. dragging start and end markers. Once completed, three icons appear for cut, copy, and paste. A single tap brings up a lone paste icon. This wrong footed me at first, as I expected clipboard options to be in the standard keyboard menu.

A final touch of class in SymNote’s text editing is the magnifying glass that comes up when you drag the cursor - an unexpected and useful tool.

Using the magnifying glass and viewing note information

SymNote comes equipped with good search abilities. The list view has a search box at the top, which filters results on the fly. This fast search feature is more effective than tags for bringing up that obscure note that you can’t quite seem to pick out among all the others. You can also search within a note, which highlights the first match; tapping search highlights subsequent matches.

Searching all notes and within a single note

SymNote is available in the Ovi Store for £3.00. This is at the upper end of the price scale, but if you want a simple note taking application that synchronises with the cloud, then this is a great option.


David Gilson for All About Symbian, 11th September 2011.

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