Thoughts on Bear for iOS and iPadOS
Bear is an excellent note taking app available for Apple devices and I am currently using it on iPhone and iPad.
After spending quite some time with it I decided to try and list down what makes this app really good but also what’s keeping it from being amazing.
Beautiful design makes it a pleasure to use
Out of all the note taking apps I used Bear immediately stands out: it’s a pleasure to use it.
It’s not at Craft’s level but it’s clear that the team behind it took care of every detailed and polished the interface to make the app look and feel incredibly well crafted.
Even the markdown styling, that a lot of users complain about, is a beauty to look at.
Simple yet powerful
Bear minimalistic design and simplicity hides a really flexible note taking app. When I started using it I was mindful about not adding too many notes because I was afraid it would become difficult to navigate through them but, once I understood how to use tags properl, I discovered Bear’s true strength.
Full keyboard support
Bear’s iPad app has a total of 39 shortcuts available from the keyboard. I haven’t check but it may be a record unbeaten by any other iPadOS app. To draw a comparison, Apple Mail has 13 shortcuts available, Todoist has 16, and Apple Notes has 9. I still have to memorize all of them but the few I learned are already bringing a great benefit to my workflow.
Great integration with Siri Shortcuts
Unfortunately many apps still have to develop good actions for Siri shortcut but thankfully Bear is not one of them.
A total of nine actions are available and allow you to perform tasks as “Search in Bear”, “Get Contents of Bear Note”, “Create Bear Note from URL”, etc.
It’s really really cheap
Costing only $14.99 per year Bear is one of the cheapest quality markdown/note editors you can find on the store. This is obviously a great plus but I would be happy to pay more if that meant having more frequent releases.
What could be better
Bear can not add a password to notes with an attachment
It’s a pity because I save a lot of personal documents that I need to be synced with other devices and I would like to add another level of protection to them.
Slow development team
There is no doubt, the team behind Bear could be faster but, if I have to choose between useless or non-polished new features released every month and the current level of quality that they output with every release, I am happy with what we have.
It’s not possible to search in single notes
You can still find any note you have saved using the sidebar search panel but this will not highlight the result in the note page and it does not include a “Find and replace” functionality.
Attached documents don’t show a preview
Being a visual person this is a bit of a pain point for me. Thankfully Bear’s robust tags and search system are able to cover for this.
Sharing to Bear could work better (on iOS and iPadOS)
All the options that Bear has when sharing an item to it (link, titled link, web page content, etc.) are great, the issue is that you can’t search through the notes list and the window on the iPad is really small. If you have some pinned notes you inevitably have to scroll even if you are adding the link to the latest note you have created or edited.
Now, I know that in this list there are more cons than pros but don’t get me wrong: I love Bear and only Craft has been able to move me away from it (for now).
I have a tendency to look at ways to improve everything, especially when I look at apps, UX, and UI so it’s natural for me to list a lot of negatives but I know there are often solid reasons behind every choice the developers made.
There is no doubt Bear would be a better app if its team could address the constant complains from the community but even now it is a really beautiful and powerful note editor, definitely one of the best available on the market, able to fit many different use scenarios and requirements.