When it comes to Windows, it is clear that its developer philosophy is quite different than Apple’s. If you’ve used Apple products for a while now, you’ve must have noticed that, for example, once a new version of iTunes appear, it will be automatically published to OS X and Windows as well. The same goes for system-supported applications of OS X and various iOS devices. On the other side, Microsoft tends to leave OS X applications on hold for a while, while focusing on Windows applications which is most obvious with Office application suite. Not only that Microsoft didn’t try to bring 2013 version to both systems, there are some applications which are Windows-exclusive, like OneNote for example.
Previously explained situation actually left some open space for 3rd party developers, who are trying to bring OneNote alternative to OS X, even though these tries were mostly quite unsuccessful. Apple’s Mac App Store currently sells numerous OneNote alternatives, and even though some of those are very popular, users have many complaints.
I’ve recently stumbled upon Outline, made by Gorillized Corporation, which caught my attention. I’ve known and used some applications made by this developer, so I was happy to try the promising OneNote alternative. Currently, Outline could be purchased using the Mac App Store for $20, so I assumed that it was going to be a very serious OneNote replacement.
Once you open Outline, you will be greeted with nice looking and minimalistic design, which uses the same background found in iOS’ Notification center. At a first sight, I thought that Outline tended to be OneNote alternative, but as it turn out this application is just a reader. It means that it opens OneNote files (notebooks) and renders them perfectly, but you won’t be able to edit those notebooks or create new ones. I guess that some users really need a reliable notebook reader, so they can exchange files through cloud storage for example, but I was very disappointed when I realized that is just an overpriced OneNote files reader.
To be fair, Outline is capable of rendering OneNote notebooks almost perfectly. No matter how complex your notebooks are, and how much text, images, and graphics they contain, Outline will render those elements nicely and you won’t notice any difference in comparison with the original file. That said, Outline has some serious limitations and downsides, even as just a reader. For example, it fails to achieve a sync connection to SkyDrive, so you won’t be able to use Office web apps to edit those files automatically. This can be achieved but you’ll need to edit a document manually, which makes Outline obsolete. Also, it fails to open password protected notebooks.
By looking at the current state of Outline, I wouldn’t recommend it even as a reader. You can open and do some very basic editing of OneNote files right within Office web apps, which makes this application completely unnecessary. On the other hand, developers promised advanced editing to arrive as an update sometime this year, and I will be happy to review this application once again, because that would be a whole another story.