Access Note - Review

iOS and iPadOS

Access note review
Having an accessible and reliable note taking device is very important in my work as an attorney. In the past, I’ve had to haul my laptop or PacMate around with me throughout the day while my sighted colleagues simply pulled out a yellow pad or their iPad to accomplish the same thing. I’ve been waiting for someone to build an editing app that would finally transform my iPhone into the kind of notetaker that would let me leave my laptop on my desk at the office.

I think the developers over at AFB may have finally pulled it off with Access Note.

The app store offers scores of note editing apps, and only a few of those are sufficiently accessible with voiceover to be useful at all. I’ve had a Bluetooth keyboard for over a year and I’ve played around with over a dozen editing apps hoping one would emerge to meet my needs. I’ve not found any to be truly and fully accessible however. Inevitably, every one of the editing apps with some level of Voice Over compatibility have some buttons, controls, or editing functions that either cannot be used without vision, or which require fairly sophisticated manipulation with voice over to work, limiting practical every day usefulness for a blind user like me.

Here are my first impressions of Access Note.

I’d heard rumors that AFB was going to release something like this for months so was please when I saw the Access World announcement. I virtually trotted over to the Apple App Store and looked over the description. I popped for the $19.99 app, like I said, I’ve been looking for this kind of accessible notetaker for a while and I trusted that the gang over at AFB would have attended to accessibility. Heck, I’m sure I’ve spent at least three times that already on a bunch of semi accessible variations that are just sitting in a folder on my device.

When I launched the app for the first time, things were pretty straightforward. Everything was well labeled and pretty clear. I already had my Bluetooth keyboard synced to my device so nothing was needed there. I was able to sync to my DropBox account very easily, turned it on in settings and gave a simple confirmation and my notes appeared in an Access Note folder in my DropBox account. I poked around in the help screen for a while and was pleased to see that they included a basic text help guide with clickable sections, as well as an interactive tutorial that helps you walk through some of the features. I didn’t find the interactive guide very useful but the texts guide gave me what I needed.

I then opened a new note and did some typing. I actually wrote most of this review using Access note. The Review mode feature worked well as describe and I was able to navigate around in the note using the custom control keys. Later, it was a snap to pull the note up on my laptop from DropBox and finish it up for posting.

Overall, I had a very satisfying writing experience using Access Note.

Some additional Observations
Access note succeeds as a fully accessible notetaker, provided you are planning to use your iPhone or iPad with an Apple style Bluetooth keyboard. Many of the unique features of the app rely on functions that cannot be performed using only Voice Over gestures.

Access Note uses a set of quick keys, the option key on a Bluetooth keyboard plus a letter, for various editing and navigation functions while editing a note. I liked having the custom controls when using a Bluetooth keyboard with Access Note as it really made it feel like a traditional note taking device.

Many of the keyboard controlled reading and navigation functions can be performed using standard VoiceOver gestures without an external keyboard as well. However, I did run into a few functions that cannot be performed without an external keyboard that I definitely missed. In particular, I wanted to add a file I was reading to my favorites for offline use. To my surprise, there wasn’t a way to do this without a Bluetooth keyboard and the Option+M. I knew I could close Access note and open DropBox to do this but it would be good to have that ability from within the app using basic Voice Over gestures and controls.

Here are a few more functions I could not perform without an external keyboard: Option+R… rename a note; Option+F or G… Find a word in a note; Option+J or K… jump to previous or next note

Access Note is the first text editing app I have tried that makes using my iPhone and Bluetooth keyboard work for me like a dedicated note taking device.

The functionality of the app using a Bluetooth keyboard is definitely very nice as it is. Although it can be used without a BT keyboard, the overall functionality of the app would be enhanced with a few more voice over controllable functions.

I recommend Access Note for anyone who has been wishing for a way to turn his or her iPhone into a good note taking device and is willing to invest in a compatible blue tooth keyboard.



Submitted by Isaac Hebert (not verified) on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I have never used access note.

Submitted by John Farina on Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hi folks, here is a situation I experienced with accessNote and my resolution. 1. When entering the application, the list of all notes was empty. Syncing with dropbox did not recover the notes, which had been previously sinked. 2. Viewing the dropbox folder from my computer revealed the note files were still there. 3. I moved the dropbox folder containing the notes to another location, deleted using my computer and reinstalled the accessNote app. 4. Copied the files from the temporary location folder in to the new AFB folder within dropbox using my computer. 5. Opened accessNote on the iPhone and synced with dropbox and all the files were now there. I am not sure what happened to cause this issue in the first place, I had placed a text file in the original folder so that might have caused it but can't be sure. Hope that helps someone.

Submitted by Donald Brown on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I downloaded the Access Note Application to my iPhone 6 and I absolutely love it. It turned my phone into a real note taker device!

However, I wish that instead of saving everything to Dropbox, you should have a choice as to where the files are saved. I realize that the notetaker saves files into its own structure, but there are alternative external drives that you can use with your iPhone that could be used to save your notes to. That way, when you're not connected to the Internet, you can still save all your notes to an external wireless flash drive to access them at a later time with Access Note. That way, you're not cluttering up your iPhone's storage with notes. They can all be stored on wireless media storage such as external flash drives and such.

All in All, Access Note is excellent. They really did a great job in developing the program because it doesn't have all those extras such as timers, clocks, calendars and all of the other junk that you may get with a physical notetaker device.

This program gives a whole new meaning to notetaker! It sure beats having to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of between $995 all the way up to at least $6000 for a notetaker that is less powerful than a laptop machine is. For only $19, this is a winner in my book! Sure that's quite expensive for a tiny little ap, but consider the alternative?

I think that you will run and grab Access Note if you already haven't when you see the true cost of those physical notetakers out there. It is definitely pure sticker shock!

I have also noticed that Access note is extremely fast on the iPhone 6. Typing on it is a breeze and it is also quick in response with my Apple bluetooth keyboard. A matter of fact, it is much faster than my Voicenote Empower notetaker which I bought a few years ago for $1200. Ouch!

So I urge anybody who wants a notetaker and who has an iPhone to forget about those other notetakers and pony up the $19 to get Access Note! Besides that, your iPhone already does much of the same things that one of those expensive notetaker devices do but for far less money.

Submitted by Usman on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Not sure why you had to pay to get this app as it is free and has been for a while as it is discontinued. A quick look at the app description shows that it was last updated in November 2013. Its a great app but I would never use an app that is discontinued as I value a well supported and updated apps.

Submitted by Frankd on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I really like Access Notes and use it all the time. Now that it is no longer supported is therenother app that serves a similar function?

Submitted by peter on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I've always used my iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard to take notes and write documents from within the Notes app that comes with the Apple software. Once you learn the VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts for navigating and editing this seems to work pretty well.

I did download Access Note a while back and tried it also. Nice that it integrates with DropBox, but I couldn't figure out why I would use this app rather than what comes with the iOS.

could someone compare the two apps? Maybe if not using VoiceOver the Access Note app has more built in keyboard shortcuts for editing and navigating? don't know.



Submitted by WellF on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Notebooks 10 has frequent updates and is quite accessible. I use it as a web cliper and to write class notes.

Submitted by Skippy on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

I absolutely love the notebooks app, however, there’s one long-standing issue, that prevents me from purchasing the iOS app, Mac app, or windows app. That is, that the windows app cannot be used with a screen reader. The iOS and Mac apps work beautifully, so this huge oversight should be fixed, sooner rather than later. I’ve tweeted the developer multiple times, and he says he’ll fix it at some point.
I believe we need to come together as a community, and urged the developer to make this happen.
He’s extremely responsive to support requests, as well as traditional feedback, so in my opinion, there’s absolutely no reason for this oversight.
I do not recommend that anyone purchase or use this app, until this issue is fixed, and the program can successfully be used on all platforms where it is available.

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