I use my iPad for just about everything — notes, pictures, writing posts, browsing the web, etc. In many ways it is how I aggregate every bit of content I need, like, or want to reference. The iPad does all this for me on the hardware side, and I’ve been testing an app called Moxtra that does this for photos, documents, notes, and audio files. It can be standalone like a scrapbook or collaborative. How does it work, and how well does it work? Read on to find out!
Moxtra organizes your content into “binders”, rather than folders or categories, but the idea is the same. You can create a binder and add photos, documents, notes, videos, and pull from Dropbox and Box storage. So, for example, I have a “Gear Diary” binder. I can use this to add photos, notes for posts, documents, anything I would like to store under the “Gear Diary” category. Alternately, I could create new binders for each review and set up notes and photos across several pages to lay out how the review might flow.
Once you get the basics of Moxtra down, there are a million ways to customize and adjust everything you add to a binder. You can draw in doodles, add notes, and even record voice notes to go with the each page. There’s even a highlighter function that works exactly like a regular paper and marker highlighter. If you upload a multiple-page PDF file, Moxtra automatically parses each page into a separate binder page. You can also upload other file types (I was able to upload an .RTF file with no issue or loss of formatting) so Moxtra can handle just about anything you toss at it.
If all Moxtra did was aggregate content into a virtual binder, it would be an awesome app. But it also allows various levels of sharing, making it a great collaborative tool as well. You can send a binder as a read-only link, allowing someone who has Moxtra installed to view your binder. If you’re looking for someone to add their .02, you can invite them to privately access the binder and give them full access. This access is per-binder, so you can have one binder that’s shared for editing, one that’s just view-only, and one that’s private. The settings of one won’t carry over to the other. They integrate with Facebook as well as allow you to invite someone over email, so you have multiple ways to share.
I can foresee a number of areas where Moxtra would be a useful tool. The obvious one is in academic settings, where you can easily work on a group project with several people. Even as a standalone this is useful, especially if you have PDF files you’re trying to annotate and highlight. My favorite way to organize myself for big exams has always been to break down the materials into content-specific folders, so studying felt less like a mountain and more like a bite-sized hill; Moxtra is just the digital version of this sort of organizing. And the fact that long PDFs render perfectly across multiple pages with easy to use annotation options? If this were just for PDF’s I would be impressed!
I also think this is a great tool for salespeople. Sarah and I just bought our house a few months ago, and we spent most of the fall receiving emails from our realtor with MLS reports on potential houses. We’d receive a report with a ton of houses listed and then scroll up and down flipping between pictures of potential homes. It would have been a much more pleasant experience to receive a series of Moxtra binders, one for each home, with notes from our realtor and large pictures of each home. All the information is already there, so it’s not hard to imagine it reconfigured as a more visually appealing and interactive report.
Overall, Moxtra is a powerful and amazing tool. At first glance, I didn’t see what made it stand out versus existing options like Evernote, but now that I’ve used it, there are clear benefits to using Moxtra. You can share at various levels, add audio commentary, annotate, create, read, aggregate, and organize content. It’s not a catch-all like Evernote; it’s what happens when you go to organize the flotsam and jetsam that’s accumulated in Evernote and needs to become something actionable and useful. The only quibble I have is that I wish there were a few more places that content could flow from, like email or webpages. If I could send an email or website to Moxtra without them having to make a stop at Dropbox or Box, it would truly be perfect. It’s still darn close, though, and a great way to organize and create!
MSRP: Free, available for iOS, Mac OS X, and Windows (iPad version tested in the review)
What I Like: Handles aggregating pictures, documents, notes, audio and video files with ease; binder concept is a great way to organize ideas; sharing is simple and having multiple levels of access is easy to set
What Needs Improvement: Would love to see emails and websites be added as an option for aggregation