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For Business
October 30, 2013

Taking notes by taking pictures

How often do you use the camera on your smartphone? More importantly, what do you use it for? Do you take pictures of your lunch and share them with the world? How about capturing the atmosphere at a really special concert?

Both very good and very common uses. But there’s another application for the on-board camera that’s often overlooked, and for the business world it’s perhaps the most important of all.

I’m talking about your phone’s role as a technological notepad.

After a heady brainstorming session, it’s easy for the best ideas to become lost. A simple click of the shutter can document all of that unbridled creativity for future reference, without the need for tedious minute-taking, or retyping the most prominent ideas, which could lead to quieter creative gems slipping through the cracks.

During your next collaborative idea hunt, experiment with unlocking your team’s free-flowing creativity with a whiteboard and a few marker-pens. It’s playful, it’s fast, and everybody present can get involved because it’s engaging.

At the end of the session, just snap a high-resolution picture with your device’s camera and you’ve harnessed all those raw ideas in the blink of an eye.

Of course, the same idea applies to recording audio. The microphones in our smartphones have evolved to the point of being excellent for sitting unobtrusively on a table and recording every side of a conversation. Within their inner workings they contain highly advanced Dictaphones without the need for miniature cassettes (remember those?) and you can share your recordings with your colleagues at the touch of a button.

Visual note-taking apps

Here’s a list of just a few apps and tools you might like to try out to bring your note-taking into the 21st century. This certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start.

OneNote is by far one of the most popular alternatives to Evernote, and features a great interface for searchable, shareable notes in any format, be they text, photographic, or anything you can imagine.

Sketch Pad
Sketchpad is ideal if you really want retain the authentic process of writing your thoughts by hand, but stores them in a transferable digital format making for smarter, neater, more useful notes. No more paper napkins! You can also use it to draw on top of a photo taken with your phone, meaning you can continue working on a brainstorm that started on paper, on your phone.

Cloud Recorder
Cloud Recorder is a great example of easy audio recording that you can simply set running and forget about until it’s time to upload your memos to the cloud. A combination Dictaphone and digital broadcaster, it’s free to install and beautifully designed.

This article is part of Nokia’s Smarter Everyday programme, which aims to inspire you with the latest ideas on productivity, collaboration and technology adoption. As always, if you’d like to learn more on this subject, then why not download our Mobile Mastery ebook at

Image credit: pasukaru76