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  1. Introducing OneNote Mobile for Android
  2. OneNote Mobile for Android Limitations
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OneNote Mobile for Android Limitations

OneNote Mobile for Android Limitations

OneNote Mobile for Android is a useful solution for the types of scenarios captured in Figures 1–5. It is not a robustly useful stand-alone solution, but it is a strong complement for OneNote 2010 users who have Android smartphones. Some limitations and quirks I observed, in my testing:

  • While external links (most commonly links to Web pages) are supported, OneNote Mobile for Android does not support intra–OneNote links, so you can't navigate from one OneNote page to another via a hyperlink. As someone who maintains a fairly elaborate collection of information across a series of interlinked notebooks, I consider that a critical shortcoming, and am hopeful Microsoft will enhance the app (along with the other OneNote Mobile apps and, especially, OneNote for the iPad) with more robust link support. Again somewhat strangely, the limited link support is better than what is currently supported in the iOS OneNote clients, which don't support any type of link.
  • OneNote Mobile for Android supports image capture but not audio capture, so it's not useful for scenarios such as capturing a quick audio note while driving or for recording audio portions of meetings or other events.
  • The app also lacks support for location tagging (that is, associating the location at which the note was taken with a new note), a capability common to many other smartphone apps.
  • Unlike OneNote Mobile for Windows Phone, OneNote Mobile for Android cannot access SharePoint-managed OneNote shared notebooks (nor can the OneNote iOS clients).

The Evernote client for Android smartphones, in comparison, supports more flexible linking, audio capture, and location tagging (but not, unsurprisingly, SharePoint access).

As has been my experience with OneNote apps for iOS, OneNote Mobile for Android also seems to be a bit buggy in some respects—failing, for example, to fully synchronize some of my larger OneNote notebooks.

Another noteworthy limitation is the fact that Microsoft doesn't provide any documentation for the app, leaving it as something of an exercise for the user to chase down app details on a brief help page (which, incidentally, includes a bulleted list of other OneNote Mobile for Android limitations that are beyond the scope of this post), and in OneNote blog- or article-related comment discussion threads. This lack of information makes it difficult to determine details such as the Android client sync strategy (for example, it's unclear whether all SkyDrive-accessible notebooks owned by or shared with a given Windows Live ID are cached to the Android client, and whether it's possible to delete specific notebooks once they are cached on an Android smartphone).

What Might be Next for OneNote on Android

I was intrigued to read in a recent Mary Jo Foley article ("Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012") that Microsoft Office 365 Senior Director Tom Rizzo believes, "Android is more of a consumer device play. But iOS and iPad are mattering more in the enterprise."

Because that's the case, it wouldn't be surprising to see the OneNote team continue to place a higher priority on the iOS OneNote apps; suggesting, for example, that it's possible there won't be an Android tablet–optimized version of OneNote in the near future, and I also don't expect to see a OneNote client optimized for the Google Chrome OS platform. Given the popularity of the Amazon Kindle Fire, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see a version of OneNote Mobile for Android offered for the Kindle Fire.

Overall, I expect Microsoft will continue to treat non–PC Windows clients as satellites for OneNote users working with OneNote 2010.

This is in some ways pragmatic, given the relatively more limited capabilities of smartphone and tablets (for example, smaller screens and a lack of traditional keyboards) compared with full PCs, but it also risks putting OneNote at a competitive disadvantage to Evernote on several client platforms because Evernote is more ambitious with the range of features it supports on mobile device client platforms.

For more information about the expanding OneNote/Evernote competitive landscape, see Revisiting the Evernote/Microsoft OneNote Competitive Landscape.

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