Update on Aug 2017 : I’m back to Org Mode. I realized that I spend 90% of my time at the computer, 10% of my time at the mobile phone. There was no point in optimizing for the 10% time. Given that basis, Emacs & OrgMode is infinitely better because it is open-ended, open source, customizable and a tinkerer’s toolbox.
This is a quick note on why I have started using Bear notes app:
What I want
- Notes app needed.
- Must support images and attachments.
- Mobile-first. Absolutely need a notes app that syncs across computer and phone. That’s just how I function.
- Ideally, there should be a backup option that keeps my notes unlocked
ifwhen the app starts degrading a few years from now.
- OrgMode is ideal, but images cause Emacs scrolling to be wonky on the desktop, and recreating agenda mode on the mobile would be a challenge. But glad to see apps like Orgzly take on it.
- Since my blog and books are already in Markdown, it would make sense to just stick to Markdown for notes as well.
What I tried before
- Evernote sync was so unreliable that I had stopped using it.
- OneNote wouldn’t let me even create an account (would complain about password, regardless of how small or long, how simple or complicated a password I try)
- Quiver seemed promising, but the iOS app is still in beta and currently only provides a read-only view to the notes. And it does not support iCloud sync, only third-party sync mechanisms, which is strange for a Mac+iOS app combination.
- Currently using Apple Notes. The downside is that exporting notes for publishing / sharing is a pain. For example, I can’t copy a note for sharing as text on messaging platforms like Slack, because it loses all the links and formatting.
Why Bear app
- Mac app and iOS app that syncs seamlessly
- Real tags
- Cross-Note Links (yay, a personal wiki)
- Web Clipper that converts a web page into Markdown and saves images as well
- Copy to clipboard as Markdown
- Export as PDF, image, etc.
- Privacy - uses iCloud Sync, no servers of their own
- Backup into an open format called textbundle
- Beautifully designed app by an Italy-based studio
Why not Bear app
- No web version, esp. to access from my Linux laptop. They are working on it.
- Long-term availability? I’m glad they have a subscription model, so that they are encouraged to maintain the app, instead of creating an upgrade treadmill (
I’m looking at you, Alfred app). Worst case, they have a really good backup feature, that also exports attachments.
- Last time I checked, Evernote does a bad job at this. The “export” menu command only exports the text of the notes as an xml file. How can you not include attachments in the backup?
- No Siri integration, not sure if Apple has provided a Siri “intent” for note-taking though.
 Alfred now has a Mega Supporter License with lifetime free upgrades.