Bear and Joplin are good note-taking apps aimed for individuals that are security-conscious and want total control over where their data is stored. The creators of the Bear App have concentrated their efforts on the Apple only devices, which means that you cannot get the app for anything other iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. Whereas, with Joplin you can get this app almost on every device.
Let’s start with the audience that these apps are targeting. Well, that is easy. These apps are for security-conscious individuals who want total control over where their data is stored. No one can access their notes as each app allows the users to select where their information is stored and has an End-To-End Encryption feature.
The creators of the Bear app wanted a lean, mean writing machine app that could collect just about anything. From shopping lists to blog posts, to web pages, to meeting notes, you name it, and the Bear app can handle it. One of the best features that I like about the app is the Word Count and read time in the information panel. The panel provides me with valuable information when writing my blog posts and YouTube channel outlines.
Bear Search Features
The Bear App has Special Search features or rather shortcuts for finding specific kinds of notes. For instance, try typing @untagged to search for memos that don’t have any tags yet.
When I researched the Bear app, I must admit that I envisioned something other than eliminating the left-hand side panel when entering the focus mode. On a Mac, you can focus on a note by choosing View >Editor Only. As you can see, this mode gets rid of the left-hand side and only shows the message you are writing.
Simplicity of Bear
I love that Bear does not have all these extra features that tend to bog down an app and make it slow. Instead, it is all about writing notes which it does very well. It does not write the notes but provides a vehicle for you to write. But you already knew that!! LOL
I must admit that I am getting used to using the markdown language. It is taking me a while to figure out how to do something, but once you know the shortcut, it sure does save you time!
Now that we have looked at a few of the best features available in the Bear app, it is time to look at Joplin.
Joplin App’s best feature is that it is open source and does not cost you a thing. So you can sync across devices without having to pay a fee. Yes, Bear can sync across Apple devices, but you have to pay for that feature.
Another feature that Joplin has over Bear is the ability to use the app on any platform. That’s right! You can use the Joplin App on Windows, Mac, Android, and iPhones, whereas Bear is limited to Apple platforms.
Like the Bear app with Joplin, you can search through your notes by using tags. I also love the fact that I can organize my notes into notebooks and sub-notebooks.
Polished and Reliable
When using an open-source software, you can discover that the app is buggy and quirky, but that is not the case with Joplin. Instead, Joplin is well polished and works great.
Another great feature of Joplin is the ability to sync the device across platforms. That means a lot to me as I use Macs, iPhones, and Windows machines daily.
All apps have the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. We have looked at the good now it is time for the bad and ugly for each app. Don’t you just love Clint Eastwood?!
Bear – the Bad and Ugly
A significant downside to both apps is the lack of a collaboration feature. Although this will not impact a lot of people, it will be a breaking point for some.
Lack of OCR
Bear does not support OCR, which can be a deal-breaker for some people. I am one of them as I tend to gather information from the Internet when researching new products. Unfortunately, this lack of OCR support is not just a Bear thing, but Joplin also does not support OCR at this time. Bummer!
No Support for Tables
There has been a cry from the Bear community to support tables inside the Bear app. But unfortunately, I must say that Bear still does not help tables.
Bear Team Slow to Respond and Post Updates
When researching any app, I feel it is essential to review Reddit to find out how they view the app. For example, Redditt mentioned that the Bear Team is slow to release new updates and has not provided any updates on adding tables within a note.
Joplin’s Bad and Ugly
There is no such thing as a perfect app. So, with all the good, we have to accept all the bad for the apps we love. So let’s look at Joplin’s bad and ugly.
Joplin Support Limited to Forums
A significant downside to any open-source software supported is limited to the forums. There is no one to email or pick up a phone and call. But, does that mean that you will not hear from someone about your problem? No, you will usually hear back from another user on what they did to fix the problem. For me, it is not any worse than support than that which I have received from some companies for which I have paid hundreds of dollars. From my experience, you will usually hear back within a few hours but no later than 24 hours.
Weak Tag Searching
Joplin’s search capability is limited to a single tag. Therefore, you cannot use Boolean operators (and or not) within the search. In addition, weak tag searching is very frustrating when searching through hundreds of notes.
Limited Mobile Support
For those who use their phones for everything, you may find that the mobile app of Joplin is lacking. For instance, you cannot web clip using Joplin. Also, you cannot read PDFs. Instead, they just show as attachments.
Is Bear or Joplin a good app? Yes, both are good apps. Both apps are for security-conscious people that want a simple app without a lot of features. Either app will let you choose where to store your data and offer E2EE.
The Bear app will be a good fit for anyone using Apple’s products. However, if you use multi-platform devices, then consider Joplin. I have to be honest and say that I still prefer Joplin over the Bear app. I just cannot justify paying Bear for the ability to sync my data across devices, especially when there is a free alternative.
Now for the haters out there. I realize that the cost for syncing is dirt cheap and the money helps support the developers are they enhance their products. But I would rather pay more money for Bear if it had a few more bells and whistles. That is why I have not left Evernote.
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