Is Notability worth subscribing to?

For new users, signing up to use Notability is a lifetime commitment. At $14.99/year it might not mean much especially if that amount of money is not going to break your bank, but still. It’s too much of a burden for me personally, considering that the market has a lot more free apps in the niche. One thing our team has learnt is that for every subscription app, there’s probably a one-time purchase app that is better. Sometimes, you even get free apps with more to offer than subscription ones.

What’s outstanding in Notability?

For years, Notability had a lot of unique features that set it apart from the rest of the pack. It had compelling reasons to consider it over others to give you more value for your money. However, as new apps enter the market, and old ones chat up to Notability, it’s becoming more and more difficult for the app to stand out. There was a time when Notability was the only app with audio recording, now, it’s an industry standard with GoodNotes being the last one to jump on the bandwagon. That’s left Notability with very few features to make it stand out:

  • locked folders are rare to come by. Apple Notes only locks some of your notes (if they contain no attachments, which defeats the purpose). In Notability, you can put all your sensitive information in a locked folder.
  • locked PDFs that you can export out of the app could be a convincing reason to consider subscribing to Notability.
  • small documents can help some users save space on their iPads. Notability makes the smallest file sizes of all the note-taking apps on the market so if storage is your issue, perhaps subscribing to Notability makes sense.
  • GIFs wouldn’t convince me to pay a subscription for an app, but we know some users can’t live without them.

Recently, Notability lost its position for best handwriting experience to Noteful. It still retains the one for the best audio recording tool. However, from our experience, all that matters with audio recording is that it syncs to your notes. Notability remains the only app that can sync to your typed notes and has the most options for audio playback. Personally, I’ve never needed any options for that. I just record audio and play it back later, everything else is overkill.

What’s the best alternative to Notability?

Based on my experience, Noteful is the closest alternative for Notability. It has a better handwriting engine, which will feel familiar for Notability lovers. However, if you need handwriting conversion to search through your handwritten notes then maybe GoodNotes is a better match. However, the writing experience in GoodNotes is very different and has never worked for me, personally. The good thing is, you can try different apps to see which one will work best for you. Each app has its strengths and weaknesses, it’s always a matter of which limitations can you handle.

Whatever app you choose, as long as it’s a one-time purchase, it is probably a better alternative. Notability is no longer the best note-taking app on the market. You’ll be surprised by what you can do in other apps which you can’t even dream of doing in Notability.

AppNotabilityNoteful GoodNotes
Outstanding features– locked folders
– password-protected PDFs
– GIFs
– small files
– customisable toolbar
– page layers
– tags
– nested outlines
– save PDFs to the app’s template library
– real-time collaboration
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