Riddle me this: What exactly is a “note-taking app”?

It seems almost painfully obvious, I know — but it’s a question I’ve found myself struggling to answer as I’ve been exploring a new breed of information-storing services.

The services allow you to collect and organize thoughts, lists, and all sorts of other materials. They also, however, provide a powerful framework for mapping out complex projects, processing large amounts of data, and even writing documents. And they’re all designed to support some pretty sophisticated forms of collaboration.

So are they note-taking apps? Are they word processors — or maybe spreadsheet editors? Or are they task management tools, project management tools, or perhaps even just broad “collaboration utilities”?

Ultimately, I suspect what we call ’em depends on how we’re using ’em at any given moment — because what truly sets these apps apart from the more typical note-taking programs is the fact that they’re shape-shifting genies. Their versatility allows them to play a staggering number of roles and turn into practically anything you need them to be.

Today, we’re going to focus on how they can supplement whatever more traditional note-taking software you’re using and help you create a highly customized and exceptionally flexible system for information organization. So without further ado, here’s a detailed comparison of three standout tools that could seriously shake up the way you think about notes — and so much more.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.