Beyond Box Notes: 6 best free note-taking apps for mobile and the cloud

Want to take notes, sync them them, and share them with others. Here are the 5 best free apps for doing it.

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Box today announced what looks to be an impressive free app for taking notes and sharing and collaborating with others. But Box isn't alone, there are plenty of other note-taking and sharing apps for mobile devices, the cloud, and desktops and notebooks. Here are the five of the best free ones you can get, all of them multi-platform.

Springpad

This very nifty app lets you create notes, clip web pages, store them all in notebooks, and share them with others. It's free and available for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones and tablets. And it saves everything to the cloud as well, so your notes are available from any device, anywhere. It's got some nice extras, such as being able to embed notebooks into a Web site or blog. Another nice touch: It enances your notes and clips. So, for example, save a restaurant in a note, and Springpad links to a map and reviews.

Simplenote

The name says it all. If you're looking for a no-frills, easy-to-use note-taking app that automatically syncs to the cloud and your other devices, Simplenote is a solid bet. Create notes and reminders and they're immediately available on the cloud and your other devices. You can add tags, organize them with filters, and easily do text searches. It's available for free for iOS, Android devices, as well as a specific version for the Kindle, as well as via the Web. A Mac version is in the works.

OneNote

Surprise: Microsoft's OneNote note-taking apps is a surprisingly powerful note-taking app that's available for free on the iPhone and iPad and Android devices as well as Microsoft's own Windows Phone. It's great for taking notes, organizing them into notebooks, pasting in information, and more. It syncs everything to Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud-based storage service, so that your notebooks and notes can be accessed from everywhere. There's also a for-pay version for Windows PCs that's included in some versions of Office. I've used the Office version of OneNote for years and have often said it's the best Microsoft app you don't know about. Now that you know about it, you'll want to give it a try, at least the free mobile and cloud-based versions.

Any.DO

This isn't a full-featured note-taking app like the others on my list. Instead, it focuses on your to-do list. It's design is simple and sleek, and it works with both Android and iOS. You can also share notes with others, for example, grocery lists. It syncs to the cloud and with your other devices. One of its nice extras is its ability to let you dictate notes, and have it translate your words into text.

Quip
Quip has been designed from the ground up for not just taking notes but sharing. So while it has great tools for creating and formatting notes, it really comes into its own when you want to collaborate and share with others. it includes features for collaborative editing, and includes tracking features for seeing other people's edits. It includes integrated messaging, the ability to share entire folders, notifications when others are online, and more. It with the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android devices, PCs, and Macs. The Android version is available, but still in "preview" mode.

Evernote

Here's the 800-pound gorilla of the note-taking world. It's my go-to app for note-taking and capturing info from the Web, and is available not just for iOS and Android devices, but for Windows Phone and Blackberry as well. It can capture video, audio, and photos as well as just about everything else. You can share your notebooks, search through them, and more. And, of course, it syncs to the cloud so your notes are available everywhere.

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