If you are bold enough to hit the road without a laptop or an external keyboard, know this: The Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote and Evernote apps are all free downloads and can input digital, searchable text without a keyboard. iOS users have another good option in Apple Notes.
These apps, to varying degrees, let you use a finger or stylus to write directly on the screen. OneNote, for example, supports handwriting on iOS and Android tablets but not iPhones.
And, let’s be honest, drawing on a small phone screen can quickly cause your hand to cramp.
If you prefer paper, you can have your pen and digitize it, too, using the camera feature of any of these three apps. This sounded like the best of both worlds to me. But unfortunately, Google Keep, OneNote and Evernote were hit or miss at deciphering my handwritten scrawl (mostly miss).
And then I found a solution: The standalone Scannable app from Evernote on iOS. I wrote up several agendas and to-do lists on paper. I was thrilled to discover that Scannable was remarkably accurate at turning my handwriting into searchable text. In fact, for the way I work, writing notes on paper and using Scannable was the least costly and most accurate way to leave my laptop at home and come away with digital notes from a meeting. It’s a cool, free tool. The only downside is that it’s a standalone app from Evernote, so you’ll have to download it separately.