My Android OneNote pain points as of 2019-08-23

Brass Contributor

1. The reading experience.

Android OneNote zooms in a lot by default, which means it wraps text very aggressively by default. This makes it hard to read text - it may be necessary on a smaller phone with a lower-resolution screen, but is not a good setting for big, high-res screens in modern "phablet" phones.

1.5. Scrolling has sideways jitter.

Reading on phone feels the best when it is stable - OneNote very often has big swings from left to right while trying to scroll down. This makes the reading experience feel fiddly and annoying. Coupled with needing to scroll a lot because of being very zoomed-in and word wrapping really aggressively, you end up with a lot of jitters.


The result of these two is that my OneNote reading queue is mostly unread: I realized I do a lot of my reading on the phone but never really gravitate to OneNote and instead go to PDFs I have on OneDrive or browsing the web since these have a more stable browsing/reading experience.


2. The "Android-created pages are somehow weird" bug:

Pages created on OneNote Android look odd when opened on UWP/Win10. It is as if they try to keep the title right at the very top of the work area and to the top left corner, when proper title anchoring/layout/something - I really have no idea what causes this bug - leaves some air at the top left. This bug means Android capture suffers. I have to have a separate section for Android-made notes in every notebook or a separate notebook for Android-made pages so I can remake every Android-written note on UWP so they don't look/feel weird/jarring. Example pictures below:




3. Surfacing content / Search:

The main jobs of a phone notes app are:

  • Quick capture of inputs
  • Reading existing notes
  • Surfacing existing notes
  • Access to notes wherever you are.

With Office Lens integration, fully local operation and Quick Note buttons, Android OneNote is one of the best capture tools I have ever used (at least it will be after the weird pages bug is fixed), and everything being cached offline is a godsend. The problems in reading are already outlined above, but Search is still in need of catching up to UWP/Win10.


Apart from consistency, Win10 has two features that would be useful for Android:
Search scope (ie. "within current page", "current section", "current section group", "current notebook", "all notebooks") and obviously tag search.

4. Button to toggle between edit/view mode

OneNote Android is operated on a touch screen which can risk accidental input, but often you just want to read a heavily formatted document made on the desktop. Having the ability to ensure you don't edit lengthy documents while reading them would be a nice touch.



These are not all equally serious. Edit/view button is not very important, but reading (zoom, word wrap, jitter) and ensuring Android search returns the same results as UWP search are.

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