I’ve been looking for a better notetaking app on my Android phone. There are lots of notetaking apps on the Google Play Store and they vary massively in features, speed, reliability, privacy, and app size. F-droid also has a lot of notetaking apps and these vary in quality even more, with many being abandoned hobby projects, and some with very niche features. I think that it’s important to support free and open source software, so I limited myself to searching for a new notetaking app on F-droid.
I decided to do a comparison of all the notetaking apps currently available on F-droid to find my favourite. I kept in mind things like:
- Date of last update and compatibility with new versions of Android
- Permissions required
- App size
I had a few features that I needed in my chosen app:
- Plain text storage of notes on device
- Homescreen widget where I can preview notes and quickly jot things down
- Export notes to plain text files, ideally with
I also had a few desirable features, but which weren’t an absolute necessity:
- Automated cloud backup
- Responsive Markdown styling in the note, to add structural aspects like headings with Markdown syntax
I searched F-droid and extracted relevant apps by searching for these key terms:
- text editor
In total I found 44 notetaking apps on F-droid. I excluded apps that only provided todo-list features, because I often want to take longer notes, write letters and blog posts and stuff. Below is a table comparing these apps and their features, as tested on an Android 7.1.1 running on Bluestacks on my Macbook Pro. I just didn’t have the patience to install and uninstall each app on my ailing Android phone, but hopefully Bluestacks is an appropriate replacement. While I was going through the apps I found extra features which I have included in the table, despite them not being features I particularly need. When recording whether an app had a widget or not, I recorded it as FALSE if the widget was just an icon which opened the main app.
I tested each app by creating a folder,if possible, and adding a note with the contents:
# This is a note
x <- 123
It has multiple lines and [a link](https://www.duckduckgo.com)
then I added two tags to the note, if possible. Then I tried to export the note to the local file storage and finally tried to set up cloud storage.
Below is the table of comparisons:
The apps which stood out to me as the most polished and feature rich were Writely Pro, Scarlet Notes, Simple Notes, and Omni Notes. Orgzly is good but I don’t see myself learning its idiosyncratic ways. Markor almost made its way to being on of my favourites, but it ran quite clunky on my setup.
After much deliberation, I’m going to live with Scarlet Notes for a while and see how it goes.