22 October 2015

Upgrade Notes for iOS9

Apple’s most recent update for iOS has been released more than a month ago, but I haven’t rushed to update. There weren’t many interesting features included and I tend to be cautious about new major releases, which can introduce ugly bugs, as we saw on iOS as recently as last year. In the same line of thought I stayed away from iCloud Drive and postponed upgrading to the new Notes when prompted during the restart when I finally installed iOS 9.

A couple of days later I noticed a minor problem in Notes, namely the sharing extension for OneNote has gone missing. Since I don’t own other Apple devices, I use the local notes usually for quick, disposable notes on the go, and store more important information in OneNote. It’s a nice convenience to be able to send notes directly instead of copying the text and pasting into OneNote, but I tried to fix it nonetheless. One possible issue was that I hadn’t upgraded Notes, so I tried to do that, but unfortunately neither the app nor Settings showed any indication of how…

Apple’s online help proved equally useless. Later I found a reference in the forums to an ‘Upgrade’ button inside the app, but I didn’t saw any new buttons on my iPhone. I checked the Settings again for clues and finally I found a solution:

  • first I enabled iCloud sync for Notes. Previous versions of iOS always required setting-up an iCloud.com email account to sync notes and since I have more than enough email addresses I had always declined. iOS 9 enable iCloud for Notes
  • I opened Notes again and noticed a new, empty ‘iCloud’ folder on the starting screen. My previous notes were filed in a local folder ‘From my PC’, which I assume was syncing locally to iTunes.
  • I opened this local folder and moved all content to the iCloud folder. At this point, the ‘Upgrade’ button showed up in my folder list. iOS 9 Notes Upgrade button
  • now I just completed the upgrade, which went quick and apparently without data loss. The folder ‘From my PC’ disappeared in the process.
    iOS 9 Notes folders after update

To finish off, some impressions after a day of use: the new Notes app is nice, much closer in features to OneNote and with a cleaner, more efficient design – well, except the paper-like texture that Apple can’t seem to find the heart to remove, even after two major releases focused on flat design. I like that extra formatting options are hidden behind a button, making more room for writing, and the better organization with folders. Other new features are useless for me, especially drawing. Not to mention previous problems persist: I can’t access notes from the web, where somehow I am still being prompted to create an email address, and the original issue of the missing OneNote share sheet isn’t fixed. Hopefully Microsoft can release an update for that one.

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