I’ve been using iCloud Notes for about a year now. In general, it works well. After using Day One, however, I’ve been bitten by the Markdown bug, and I wanted to find a new text app that supported it. Markdown is kind of like pseudo-HTML formatting. It’s simpler to type than standard HTML, and it’s definitely faster than all the tapping involved with formatting in the Notes app. I also liked the idea of organizing things with tags rather than folders. Tags are better than folders because you can put a single note under multiple tags if you want. These criteria led me to Bear.
The first thing you’ll notice about bear is that it’s absolutely beautiful. The colors and typefaces are amazing. Bear’s simple interface is exactly the same on iOS and macOS, which is awesome. The editor is clean and distraction free, and shows Markdown output as you type.
But Bear goes beyond just writing text. You can add images inline, or any other type of file as an attachment. It’s also very easy to export all your notes and attachments from the Mac app (I’ve been burned by iCloud Notes here before). Tagging is as simple as adding a hashtag anywhere in the note. You can also use #tag/subgroups or #multi word tags#. These are all automatically detected and can be found in the sidebar, or you can simply search for them. You can also use other special search operators such as @attachments or @untagged.
Bear uses a subscription model for its pricing. It’s $1.49/month or $14.99/year, with a one week or one month trial, respectively. This subscription covers iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This is great, since I’ve found many reasonably priced iOS apps have absurdly priced Mac counterparts. At first I was put off by the subscription model, but I’ve since warmed up to it. I realized that I would happily pay a flat $15 for Bear. However, I move around between apps like this somewhat frequently, and in a year, I may have found something else. If Bear still fits my needs in a year, I’m willing to support the developers by paying again. Longevity and adaptability are worth paying for. ••