Your note taking app is a personal space—it's where you jot down quick thoughts, brainstorm ideas, list to-dos, and compose drafts of messages you'll send down the line. And that makes your Android a great place to take notes: Androids are absurdly customizable, and there are many great note taking apps for Android that follow suit.
One look in the Google Play store will reveal a bevy of options that are highly rated, include desktop widgets for added convenience, and fit into the Android ecosystem of apps. So how do you choose from the masses, when in reality, it's a relatively simple category?
We considered over 30 Android note taking apps, and after extensive testing, here are our seven favorite apps for taking notes on Android devices.
What Makes a Great Note Taking App for Android?
Most people use note taking apps to jot down something important in the moment—as quickly as possible. Some of the apps we tested required too many clicks to get to a simple note taking document. So we started by looking for apps where, at the very least, it was easy to open a new note and get to writing.
Of course, we didn't discount more advanced features. Most Android note taking apps sync with popular cloud platforms, like Dropbox or Google Cloud, but we looked for apps where this functionality was easy to find, quick to set up, and as automated as possible. Remembering to manually sync notes to an account isn't second nature.
While we considered plain text note taking apps, many of our favorite apps offer features like photo and PDF importing, voice dictation, and handwriting functionalities that mimic the experience of using an actual pencil or marker.
Finally, we favorited apps that offered robust functionality in their free versions; because note taking apps are usually used for simple tasks, it doesn't make sense to pay an arm and a leg for one. While many of our favorites offer upgraded features in paid plans, all of the free versions will be more than powerful enough for most users.
The 7 Best Android Note Taking Apps
Google Keep for Google power users
Evernote for a do-it-all powerhouse
iA Writer for multiple viewing options
Thoughts for focusing on the task at hand
Dropbox Paper for team-wide collaboration
Standard Notes for protecting sensitive information
Monospace for barebones note taking
Best Android note taking app for Google power users
Google Keep is installed on most new Android devices by default. It's a solid option for capturing on-the-go notes and creating actionable to-do lists.
Google Keep feels a lot like Google Docs, so if that's where you feel comfortable for word processing, you're off to a good start. You can even add collaborators just like you would in Docs, and if you decide you need to turn your note into a more complex document, you can easily send it over to Google Docs (and vice versa).
As you type a note, Keep automatically saves it (within seconds of the app detecting a stoppage in typing) and syncs it across all of your devices. You'll see the date and time the note was last updated, and who edited it, just like in a Google Docs document. It's a seamless process, and it means you don't have to think twice about losing important content. Just keep in mind that Keep notes do count against your 15GB of free storage in Google Drive.
Organization in Google Keep is also similar to many G Suite apps you've already used. Click the Create new label button in the menu to organize your notes however you'd like, just like you would in Gmail. You can do this from within a note as well by clicking the three dots in the bottom-right corner and selecting Labels. Once we set up a few test labels, we found it easier to start new notes by clicking into the label first. From there, you can begin a blank note, or add other elements quickly, like checklists, drawings, voice recordings, or photos.
The main difference between Keep and the other Google apps: It feels a little more whimsical in its organization. Color-coded notes appear as soon as you open the app, and you'll see previews of handwritten notes and checklists as well. But even with this scrapbooky feel, it was surprisingly easy to find the notes we were looking for without using the (unsurprisingly fast and accurate) search function. Plus, you can drag and drop notes into different positions if you want to control where they land.
Google Keep is free, and with its familiarity and powerful feature set, we can see it working both for everyday use and larger scale planning efforts.
Google Keep Price: Free
Best Android note taking app for a do-it-all powerhouse
Evernote is a powerhouse of an app that can accommodate the needs of casual note takers and power users. And even though it's packed with countless bells and whistles, Evernote's user interface is surprisingly easy for first-time users to get started. Click the plus icon in the bottom-right corner to start a new note and select from the six options: Reminders, Audio, Attachments, Handwriting, Camera, and Text Notes.
The Reminders are a cinch to set up: Click the clock icon to set a date and time for your reminder, and a notification pop-up will appear on your phone at the selected time. Handwriting is equally as simple. You get a blank sheet to draw on with a few options for pen width and color. The Camera option is particularly helpful: It allows you to take a photo of any document, whiteboard, or business card and transcribe the data into text.
When you select Text Note, you can start typing or choose from a variety of templates that cover everything from meeting notes to blog post outlines. Within each note, you can create actionable reminders for tasks and add tags by which your notes are organized (you can access your tags from the main menu).
Evernote also shows its muscle in its Connected Services options. Aside from sheer quantity, the value proposition of many of the integrations is unmatched. For example, after you scan a business card into Evernote, the LinkedIn integration will automatically search for that person on LinkedIn. When it finds the matching profile, you can send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn directly from Evernote.
Most of the more advanced features are only available in Evernote Premium, but if you're looking for a note taking app that goes beyond the basics, it's well worth it.
Evernote Price: Free for basic features. $7.99/month or $69.99/year for Evernote Premium.
Automate Evernote with Evernote's Zapier Integrations.
If you're excited about Evernote but not as happy with the premium price tag, try Microsoft's OneNote Android app. In the same way that Google Keep feels like Google Docs, OneNote feels a lot like Word once you're in a note. The Android app isn't as fully featured as the web app, but with a price tag of $0, it's worth giving it a shot.
Best Android note taking app for multiple viewing options
iA Writer's basic features are similar to many of the other apps on our list. Click the plus icon in the bottom-right corner to open a new note. Then, within each note, you can format with many word processor options like italicized text, bulleted lists, and headers.
Organization comes by way of Directories. Create a new Directory by clicking the folder icon in the upper-right corner of your home screen. If you want to move existing notes into a different Directory, long-press the note and select Move.
Where iA Writer shines is in its multiple viewing modes. Click the three dots in the upper-right corner of your note to reveal four viewing modes. Night Mode turns the screen to black and white, which is a nice break after a day in front of a computer. Focus Mode hides the toolbar in the upper portion of the screen, which comes in handy for focusing. Especially on mobile—since nothing ever looks just so—it's easy to get distracted by formatting instead of putting down your thoughts. Word Count displays your character, word, and sentence counts in the toolbar above your note, which helps in crafting titles for blog posts, ensuring brevity in longer pieces, and checking for redundant sentences. You can even mix and match the various modes to combine them into one view.
iA Writer isn't the most feature-rich app, but it's an excellent choice for any Android user looking for practical add-ons that increase productivity.
iA Writer Price: Free
Best Android note taking app for focusing on the task at hand
Thoughts is a simplistic note taking app: Add a title and start writing. Unlike other apps that have automatic save features, you will have to manually save your notes. It's not ideal, but you get used it after just a few minutes. It also doesn't include options like bulleted lists, checklists, or even text formatting, and you can't set reminders or add collaborators. There aren't any options in terms of organization, but at the bottom of the home screen, the keyword search tool allows you to search by note title.
So why choose Thoughts? It's particularly useful when you need something that strips away all distractions. By default, the app is in dark mode. With a color scheme that's easier on the eyes and fewer formatting options to get in the way, Thoughts will force you to focus on the note you're writing. That's important whether you're working on a longer piece of content or you've just logged in to your app to jot something down and you want to do so before you forget.
Thoughts Price: Free
Best Android Note Taking app for team-wide collaboration
Dropbox Paper is meant for collaboration. It has all the word processing features you'd expect, including some uncommon ones for note taking apps, like indentation. There's a front-and-center Dropbox icon that allows you to insert files from your Dropbox account directly into your note.
Paper is particularly impressive because of its sharing functionality. Click the people icon at the top of any note to add collaborators via email address. The collaborators don't need to be Dropbox users to view the note, though they will need an account before making any changes to it.
Collaborators can change text, write comments, or add stickers to a note by clicking the smiley face icon. In our testing, the user experience for a new Dropbox user who has been invited to collaborate on a note was straightforward, and we were up and running in just a few clicks. Comments are equally as easy to view by tapping the highlighted text. A nifty little pop-up on the app appears at the bottom and displays your team's entire conversation—it works just like a standard chat app.
You can also tag collaborators and assign action items with the app. Simply type
@ and the person's name to assign an item to a colleague that you've invited to the document. All that, and it's completely free: definitely the right choice if you're looking for deep collaboration within notes.
Dropbox Paper Price: Free
Best Android note taking app for protecting sensitive information
Standard Notes doesn't claim to replace your word processor. There are no formatting options within a note (although you can go to the developer's site to download additional layouts), and Standard Notes' default font is all you have to work with.
So what makes it stand out? Its security features. The app's developers tout its end-to-end encryption: It's the only app on our list that offers this. The app also offers a menu within each note that allows you to protect your note in a variety of ways. You can select Lock to prevent anyone you've shared it with from making changes or select Protect to require a fingerprint to access the note.
Plus, if you pay for the premium plan, you'll be able to access your entire revision history on each note. That's not a security feature, but it does protect you if something accidentally gets deleted.
Standard Notes Price: Free. $9.99/month for the Extended option that includes features like editing notes in markdown, daily cloud backups, and access to your entire revision history on each note.
Best Android note taking app for barebones note taking
Monospace—and its typewriter font—was our favorite option for taking a quick note. Each note has a title field and a very basic text editor. If you want to add formatting such as bolded text, italics, or bulleted lists, you can highlight any amount of text to reveal a formatting toolbar.
Monospace's organization is powered by a hashtag system. Add any hashtag you want to the final line of your note, and Monospace will create a folder. It's not the most intuitive organization system we tested, but it's easy to execute—as long as you remember to add those hashtags. Eventually we got the hang of it, but not before we had a long list of unorganized notes in our dashboard.
One little quirk: We noticed that the top of the screen got a bit cut off sometimes when using the app. Hopefully it's a bug they're able to fix quickly.
If you're looking to remember a phone number you just received, or simply document a thought you don't want to forget, Monospace makes it quick and easy to capture critical one-off information without any hassle.
Monospace Price: Free
Which Android Note Taking App Should I Use?
All of the apps we selected are free to start, which gives you a lot of flexibility in testing them before you pick one—or more than one, as the case may be.
After testing these note taking apps, I created a folder on my Android home screen specifically for note taking apps. Some apps will suit certain situations better than others, and because many of them sync with each other, it can't hurt to have two or three of your favorites available on your phone whenever you need to get a quick thought down.