One of the things I noted early on about my use of paper notepads was how it often serves the role of a mobile flip chart. I draw (not particularly well) to help explain or explore ideas with others.

One of my big bugbears with using web conferencing services like Hangouts is the loss of that channel of communication. This afternoon I pondered if it would be possible to use the iPad and Pencil to draw live in web conferences on Hangouts. The short answer is “No”. The slightly longer answer is “Maybe, but only with a lot of arsing around streaming to a PC and then sharing that screen via the Hangouts service”. At the core is the issue that (until now) iOS hasn’t been fully multi-tasking, so it’s not been able to run two apps (Hangouts plus a drawing application) at the same time.

That’s changing with iOS 11, but time will tell whether such functionality will creep into Hangouts.


So, at the end of the week what have I concluded?

The positive points:

  • Pencil when used with native-supporting applications is as close to using paper and pen as I have yet experienced. It’s still not the same, and it’s nowhere near the optimal pen/surface experience which is to be found by writing on a banana skin with a traditional Bic Biro. Don’t ask me how I know that, but try it.
  • The concept of remove one of my last pieces of single-device dependencies (the paper notebook) and having my notes available from whatever device is really alluring.

The points that still need to be resolved:

  • There is no software that I have yet found that is both as simple to use as a notepad, but also makes notes available where ever, on what ever device I want to use (browser, Android, iOS, Windows). Evernote and OneNote both are the closest, but both are much, much more complicated than a mere notepad.
  • A notepad doesn’t need a network connection.
  • A notepad doesn’t need to be charged.
  • The iPad lets me switch over to check Twitter. And Email. And Facebook.

I’m going to continue to persevere with Evernote. The goal of having my notes anywhere I might want to access them is valuable, although again as much of my note taking is a learning and memory exercise, not a data gathering exercise, not as much as the tech wonks might believe. I also wonder whether the iPad might be inappropriate with some audiences – too techie, too distracting.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and thoughts along the way. I’ll try to collate them all at some point soon. Possibly in note form.

2 thoughts on “The no-notebook experiment: day 5

  1. “This afternoon I pondered if it would be possible to use the iPad and Pencil to draw live in web conferences on Hangouts. The short answer is “No”. “…

    What that mostly tells me is that Hangouts is not a very good web conferencing service if it doesn’t have even a basic whiteboard, even Microsoft remembered to include one 😉

    …unless of course they have plans for a miniature Jam Board which, let’s face it looks like a bloody great iPad!

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