The inadequacy of iOS/iPadOS

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been looking for solutions for a notes app on iOS for an MA I’m starting in September. I’ve looked through many forums and journeyed down many a rabbit hole.

The interesting outcome is that iOS/iPadOS is just wanting. If I look at macOS then there is plenty of choice, but iOS/iPadOS choices are either none existent or peter out in terms if functionality or experience.

I was not expecting to hit this problem on iOS/iPadOS in 2022, so this has been a surprising outcome for me.

I’m now wondering whether a better option is simply to buy a laptop!

I realise that iOS is now separate from iPadOS. I’m talking about both here and so have edited the post above and title to reflect this.

Sounds frustrating.

  1. Are you planning to do a whole MA on iPhone?

  2. What would you like to achieve with a notes app which is not provided by any of the options?

It may sound harsh, but when it comes down to working with text:

To me MacOS is about getting work done while iOS/iPadOS feels like the quest for how to make something work.

Which does not mean that working with notes is not possible… It might be an age issue (having grown up with desktop and laptop computers)… Taking notes on iOS (= iPhone)… Yeah, it can be done, but I do not see myself taking long notes without a keyboard…

The story changes when you are working with photos or video or reading and annotating and stuff like that.

The Macbook Air has brought the portability of the iPad to the Mac - with everything MacOS has to offer.

A recent comparison (published yesterday):


I’m looking at using an iPad, but realise that citing iOS refers to the iphone. Thanks for highlighting that! I’ve changed the title and main post.

Simply put features and ease of use. Take Apple notes for example, the app store here in the uk has consistent reviews that talk about notes disappearing. That completely rules it out.

Other apps are reliant on icloud which is also a headache in itself with unreliable syncing. Then there are desktop apps such as Devonthink that have poor feature parity on iOS/iPadOS, a major one being that wiki links don’t work. Scrivener also has syncing issues and features parity missing on iOS/iPadOS.

Humm. How does “feature parity” between a real computer and a partial computer have anything to do with taking notes on an iPad? You are asking about taking notes, not full integration?

Curious. Exactly what are those issues? (Full disclosure: I sync Scrivener all the time and it “just works”). And it’s not really a note taking app, but I guess I would use as such some of the time for notes.

My hunch is that you’d be best off using one of the Macbooks and get on with your studies.

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That did make me laugh. I’m pretty sure that ipads are real computers. They have processors and compute!

In 2022 I was hoping for something that would allow linked notes, screenshots, PDFs, etc.

I currently get file conflicts unless I religiously make sure Scrivener is shut on devices I’m not currently working on.

I’m coming to the same conclusion. Just disappointed that the iPad won’t cut it.

I owned a 12" MacBook and used to rave how it “handled like an iPad”. I could hold it in one hand while watching video, lying in a hotel bed and… importantly… when I got tired of holding it the built in stand* was very handy, with its wide array of possible angles. I honestly think the M2 MacBook Air is the spiritual successor to the 12" and also to many iPads.

If the MBA had a ‘flip around’ hinge, I think iPad sales would plummet.



Based on what you’ve described, and I may be missing something here, I believe Craft may be a good solution for you. It has feature parity between Mac OS and iPadOS, in fact it was originally designed for the iPad. It does back linking, it’s easy to export your material, you can throw most types of media at it, you can use the Apple pencil, you can insert documents via the camera, and you can even collaborate online with the app. I presume you have checked out Craft but if not I recommend that you consider it as a possible solution.


What capabilities do you feel are missing?

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On top of this, Evernote is also worth a look alongside Craft.

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iOS and iPadOS have always been satellite devices for me. Straying from that point of view brings frustration. :slightly_smiling_face:


The caveat I would offer that is that Evernote is more expensive and it is harder to get material out of Evernote and in multiple formats, at least it was when I last used Evernote, which admittedly was many years ago.


The apps I would happily use on the mac are too limited on ios/ipados. iCloud syncing for app data (not Cloudkit) has enough posts on forums as being unreliable. There seems to be no clear solution, rather more cobble together a few different things.

Craft I’ll take a look at as it’s mobile first. I trialled evernote, but a notes app needs OS integration and on that level failed me massively on macOS.

Do you know if Craft connects with Zotero?

I do not know, I use Bookends as my citation manager. I don’t use Craft for my notes. I have defaulted to using Apple Notes for most of my general notetaking. I use DEVONthink and Obsidian for all research related notes.

I think Craft will probably meet your needs. The reason I don’t use Craft is because I strive to minimize my subscriptions and to use default apps whenever I can make them work. The other main reason is that Craft does not integrate as easily with Apple Reminders as Apple Notes does. For my workflow needs I am able to accomplish what I need using the default apps, DEVONthink, and Obsidian.

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Reading to this point, I might be inclined to believe that you want iOS/iPadOS to be macOS. The inverse might be to comment about inadequacies in macOS because it does not have apps that allows you to sketch, draw, or annotate with an Apple pencil.

In the end, all you have done is ask for confirmation to the truth in your (near) concluding statement. So, yes, from what you have described and as others have suggested, the better option is to purchase a laptop.

And you have not even started to explore what you need to write reports, analyze information, or create presentations.



Not quite true. I appreciate the differences. The frustrations are apps that work on both OS’s but iOS/iPadOS do not have the same features available.

Also, not true. I have been using a wacom tablet on my macos for more than a decade quite happily, well before the iPad and apple pencil came along. macOS is simply more feature rich in every way than iOS/iPadOS.

My point was that in 2022, I’m surprised that this is still so and demonstrates serious design limitations built into iOS/iPadOS by Apple.

That’s because my first hurdle was to find something that would allow me to store notes on ios/ipados as I would do on my mac. Writing reports, analysing information and presentations are not things I’ll do on an ipad (apart from presentations). I have been teaching and training for 30 years and pretty much know what I’ll use for this.

I was just hoping that for classes and thinking the iPad could become my notes hub and integrate with macOS. My last two weeks of research leads me more to getting a macbook air.

Would sales plummet? It seems to me that most people who buy iPads use them for email, word processing, spreadsheets, photos, etc. and for social media, movies, books. In other words, they use them for the purpose the device was designed.

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Like @geoffaire Evernote was my first thought when I read your post. EN has had their problems but Tiago Forte (Mr. Second Brain) still uses it so they must be doing something right.

Just noting that if the native iCloud sync / data store is a problem for you because it’s unreliable, you’re probably not going to be happy with the majority of apps.

If you JUST need to get text back and forth from the iPad and your Mac, without iCloud, then you need apps that support a different sync like Dropbox. 1Writer and nvAlt used to be an option - not sure if they still are. The basic free Dropbox should do what you need, and give you enough space for a ton of notes.

Obsidian syncs using Dropbox as well.

Normally I would recommend Drafts, but again, that relies on the system sync service - which you’ve explicitly ruled out.

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