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Livescribe smartpens sync handwritten notes with audio recordings. The user writes notes in a physical, paper notebook, and after the class/meeting, can go back to a specific note to listen to what was said at that moment in time.  A Livescribe notebook must be used, and notes can be backed up digitally.  Two types of pens exist:

 1)    The Symphony smartpen pairs via Bluetooth with the Livescribe+ app, which is available on both Android and iOS mobile phones and tablets.  The user writes with the Symphony pen in a Livescribe notebook, but the audio recording happens through the app on the paired device.  Digital backup happens in real-time. The Symphony is available for purchase through Livescribe directly or through other retailers.

 2)    The Echo smartpen has the audio recorder built into the pen, and audio playback happens through the pen, too.  User can transfer notes and audio to a computer with a USB cable. The original Echo is no longer in production, but the Echo 2 is newly available in 2022 with some new features.

BrailleNote by Humanware and Braille Sense by HIMS Inc. are Braille Note Taking Devices.  


Microsoft OneNote is a digital tool for to-do lists, class and meeting notes, or anything that needs organizing. Your notes sync across your devices so you can access them wherever you go. The web and desktop apps allow for syncing an audio recording with notes.  When used on a tablet, user can annotate PDF slides and other files, but audio recording is not available on tablet version.

Glean is a cloud-based web app that’s designed to capture the whole class by audio recording the lecture and allowing the user to flag important parts in the audio. Audio syncs with slides and your own typed notes.  After class or a meeting, the user can organize notes, add or edit further information, and replay specific parts of the recording.  Notes are synched across devices and the app offers several tools and features to minimize distractions and support studying/synthesizing of information.

Notability is an app available on the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. Perhaps best suited for use on the iPad, the user can take free form, handwritten notes with a stylus, and annotate slides. Notability audio records and syncs the recording to the user’s notes, so the user can go back to a specific note and replay what was being said at that moment in time.

Otter.ai is an app available for desktop, and both Android and iOS mobile devices and tablets. Otter app audio records classes, lectures, conversations, meetings, etc. and transcribes what is said in real-time through AI language-recognition software.  After the event, Otter timestamps the transcript and summarizes key words and phrases.  Users can highlight important parts of the transcript either in real-time or after the fact. Users can download/export both transcripts and audio recordings, and can also upload recordings to the app for transcription. 

Note Taking Express is a cloud-based web app through which users can send lecture recordings to a professional note taker and receive an outline of notes back.  Users can record directly through the web app or upload recordings.  The app is available for and on both Android and iOS mobile devices and tablets.  App offers several features to organize notes.

Additional Apps

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