Dissecting Notability’s New Privacy Policy

Notability updated its privacy policy on September 5, 2023, in preparation for a new transcription feature coming to the app. According to their policy, here’s how it’s going to work.

Where does the transcription take place?

When transcribing your audio, Notability will upload it to their servers for the purposes of its transcription into text. The Notability team will not access, listen to, or review the audio recordings. Their policy doesn’t mention anything about encryption. So, it is probably safe to assume that the audio recordings will not be encrypted. The developers also reassure us that they won’t share the audio recordings with third-party apps or use them for training AI or ML models.

We haven’t seen a feature like this in Notability for many years now. If memory serves me right, the last time the app had a similar online service like this was with OCR a few years ago. Before, our documents were uploaded to their servers for OCR purposes. While we had no issue with that, we did prefer to have the technology work on our devices offline and not on their servers. They eventually improved the feature to do that.

Notability developers have never given us reasons to worry about the privacy of our notes, unlike GoodNotes. We do hope, however, that the feature supports some encryption or that it works on our devices.

What happens after the transcription?

According to the policy, once the transcription finishes, the developers delete the audio from their servers. However, they store and process the text from it so that you can access it whenever you want. It’s sweet of them to offer that, but they don’t have to. I mean, once the transcription is finished and you have your text in the app, why would they keep the transcription?

We love that they are transparent about this process in their policy. So we know exactly what we’re signing up for when we use the feature. But keeping the text on their servers really doesn’t seem like an act of kindness at all. We probably have to see how the feature works to understand why they are keeping the transcripts on their servers, but so far, this does not make any sense.

How can I delete my text transcripts from the Notability servers?

We would feel better if the scripts got deleted from the developer’s servers, just like our recordings. Unfortunately, at the moment, your text scripts can only be deleted when you exercise your rights by submitting a deletion request. You have to prove your identity and make a request in “sufficient detail” so the Notability developers can evaluate and respond to your request. There is plenty of room (and we bet they will make use of it) for the developer to dismiss your request as invalid. All that work to try to delete information they just took with just a few taps? Clearly, deleting your text transcripts won’t be easy.

We always question when developers make it so difficult for users to delete or export their notes from their servers after making it so easy to put them there. Once we download our text transcripts, we should have the option to delete them from the developers’ servers. It’s really not as hard as the developers make it out to be.


We were excited to try the audio transcription feature when it finally came out, but Notability’s new privacy policy clearly outlines that we can’t delete our text transcripts from their servers. That’s a cause for concern, and it makes us wonder if the feature will be worth all that trouble, especially for a handwriting note-taking app.

Using the feature is optional, though. At least that’s good because you can choose not to use the feature. GoodNotes would have probably automatically uploaded all our recordings to their servers by default, “in case we needed to transcribe something”.

Scroll to Top