Notes Plus is a terrific note taker for iPad

Notes Plus (iPad only, US$9.99) is an app for taking notes. It sounds simple enough, and you'd expect that it's certainly a needed app for people who are drawing, scribbling and writing down anything from lecture notes to making diagrams or designs.

Of course, Notes Plus goes far beyond just taking notes. This latest update adds some features and makes the app iOS 8-friendly. The app lets you write naturally with either a finger or a stylus, with smooth and readable vector graphic strokes. You can also create a text box to type inside, with a wide choice of type styles and colors. Once anything is on the Notes Plus screen, it can be resized or moved. Scaling is smooth and shows no artifacts. The app supports both left- and right-handed users.

Notes Plus also lets you record audio, and the recording continues in the background if you leave the app. Notes Plus also allows you to import a PDF or Word document for annotation. The app supports pre-drawn shapes, and images can be imported from your iPad.

Notes Plus gives you automatic backup using Dropbox, as well as a folder structure that lets you define places to put things. You get a nice choice of notebook designs, and many styles of paper to write on.

Handwriting recognition to turn your words into text is available as a $2.99 in-app purchase.

I used the app quite a bit over the last few days, and it really is terrific. However, don't expect to simply pick up your iPad and start taking notes right away. The app requires you to learn special gestures, and you'll need to accommodate the structure Notes Plus offers. That's not a negative -- the app can't be powerful and yet have no learning curve to overcome. Once you do learn Notes Plus, helped by a well done quick-start document and extensive detailed help, you'll be on your way. I did not try the app with a stylus, and it probably feels more natural to write with one. Once I adjusted, it worked fine with my finger as a "pen".

If I was still a student and taking lots of notes, this app would be indispensable. It's great for business use, and even creative writers or just list makers will find it extremely useful. I wish there was an iPhone version of this app, because I always have my iPhone with me but don't usually run around with my iPad. It wold be challenging to do this app on an iPhone, but as we know, iPhone screens are getting bigger so the conversion should be easier.

Notes Plus is not a cheap app, but the $10.00 price is fair given the power and flexibility. I'm not happy about the extra in-app purchase, as I think handwriting recognition should be a basic built-in feature. Apps that you purchase that keep asking for more just irk me, and I really wish the practice would diminish.

Notes Plus is a terrific app that deserves a look if you have the need for its many features. It requires iOS 7 or greater, and was very smooth under iOS 8. Highly recommended.