Apps and Games

Insight into the extraordinary notes app with Apple Design Award! (+ Full version competition)

Bear Thumb

Bear Thumb

Here on Apfelpage we present many apps. Including a whole host of note-taking apps that regularly make it into the app salad. The App Store has felt thousands of them.

One of them is Bear (Affiliate link). Together with the developers from Ireland, we’re introducing you to the somewhat different note-taking app today and showing you what makes it special. And at the end we have a little competition for you. Thanks to Bear for the little collaboration.

In co-operation with Bear originated

Bear’s beautiful design already catches the eye on the advertising images in the App Store. The structure of the surface is reminiscent of Apple Notes, but looks even more modern. By the way, Bear received the Design Award from Apple for this!

In addition, the following features make the app stand out from the competition:

  • Modern Organize your notes
  • First class Encryption
  • On nice editor
  • New and exciting Export opportunities

The basics: app design and usability

The developers at Bear use a three-column layout for the user interface. The structure of the app is very similar on iOS, iPadOS and macOS: In the first column you can find all tags, the second column is occupied by the list of notes and the third column houses the editor with the currently open note. Bear’s familiar anatomy across all three operating systems is very pleasant, as you don’t have to get used to it when you work on different devices.

Bear design

Bear has several themes available for increased adaptability. On the one hand, these are relatively common, such as “High Contrast” or “Dark Graphite”, on the other hand there are also more unusual variants, which include “Panic Mode” or “Solarized Dark”. The writing area can also be configured according to your own requirements. More precisely, the font, the font size, the line height and the line width can be changed.

Bear Themes

All in all, the operation should pass quickly into the blood. Thanks to the simple three-column design, all points can be found immediately and to help you get some instructions when you open Bear for the first time. There are also separate areas where all available text formatting can be selected in case you don’t remember the Markdown syntax – more on that later. Only the slider for activating and deactivating the iCloud synchronization is a bit confusing. Normally you would think that matching is active when the slider is on the right, which is not the case in Bear. We are happy to pass this on to the developers! 😉

Organize Notes 2.0!

In Bear, notes are managed using so-called tags, which can be thought of as folders in the Files app or in the Finder. The assignment of a note to a day is very simple. Simply write a hash (“#”) anywhere. The app either creates a new tag or sorts the note into an existing tag.

Create Bear Tags

Nesting is also possible, this works by adding a slash to a tag. And there is a large collection of icons for visual differentiation. You can also structure the tags using the column on the far left. Probably the best thing is that a note can have multiple tags. On the one hand, you are even more flexible in administration, and on the other hand, you can give your content multiple contexts.

Bear multiple tags

Bear also automatically arranges the notes in a few pre-defined tags. Here you get “Not Tagged”, “ToDo”, “Today” and “Blocked”.

  • Not tagged contains all elements without a tag
  • Notes that are in To do have at least one checkbox
  • today contains everything that was created or last edited today
  • Blocked includes all notes that have been sealed off with a password and Touch ID or Face ID.

You can find the tags and all their content on all of your devices thanks to iCloud. As indicated briefly before, this must be activated in the app settings.

Bear day symbols

Bear - Private Notes

Bear - Private Notes

Encryption: privacy to the power of 2

We briefly mentioned encryption. Bear allows you to secure individual notes with a password and Touch ID or Face ID. A strong password is required for this, and a password hint can also be added as an option. If you want to view a blocked note, a verification is necessary.

It may look simple to the end user, but in reality there is a complicated process behind it that Bear developed together with Cossack Labs. In this post we will only cover the basics of the procedure, all the details can be found in this article. But there is one thing we can anticipate: Not even the Bear team can crack a blocked note – the encryption is that secure.

Bear encryption

An important part of this is the “Secure Enclave”. Because the data is handled in a completely separate area, hackers can write it down more difficult.

Secure Enclave: This is the mini-processor in Apple devices (or part of the main processor in the case of the M1 and the A processors) on which sensitive data is processed. For Macs with an Intel chip, these are the T1 and T2 chips.

Two other important parts are the iCloud keychain and the generation of AES-GCM-256 keys. In the course of the password assignment, another secret key is generated in the background, which must also be available when accessing the blocked note. But that is regulated automatically, you don’t have to do anything in this regard.

We’re breaking the whole thing down to the essentials. Bear and Cossack Labs really put a lot of thought into this. How so? You should feel like you can save your most private or sensitive things in the notes without feeling uncomfortable. Bear becomes a place of trust.

Versatile editor

In Bear, the notes are created using Markdown. But what is it actually? Markdown was developed by John Gruber and Aaron Swartz to be able to format documents quickly, easily and consistently. Thanks to Markdown, it is also possible to identify the final format of a document (for example a blog post for a website) before it is published.

Bear markdown

For formatting, certain characters are set around the desired passages in the text. If you write something like “* Hallo Apfelpage *”, the text is shown in bold. Bear relies on a slightly modified syntax (for example, a “/” is used instead of a “_” for the italic format), but you also get little help for getting started. In the iOS and iPadOS version there is namely a toolbar in which all formats can be found. This is a small pop-up window in the macOS app. Once formatting has been applied, the adjusted text is displayed according to the format. That simplifies legibility.

So-called backlinks, which allow notes to be linked with one another, can also be very helpful. Either you add this by typing “[[ “ oder über den Punkt in der angesprochenen Toolbar ein. Für solche Backlinks gibt es gewissermaßen unendlich viele Verwendungszwecke. So kann man einfach Verknüpfungen zu anderen Bereichen herstellen. Auch wird dieses Feature gerne in Verbindung mit dem Zettelkasten-System verwendet.

Bear Backlinks

Anhänge in Form von Bildern, Dokumenten oder PDFs werden auch vom Editor akzeptiert. Diese werden schön innerhalb des Dokumentes dargestellt. Noch dazu bekommt man bei einem Klick darauf eine Vorschau. Zeichnungen lassen sich ebenfalls anfügen. Einerseits können diese mit dem Apple Pencil erstellt werden, andererseits mit dem Finger.

Viele Export-Formate

Hat man dann erst einmal fertig geschrieben, besteht die Möglichkeit zum Exportieren des Ergebnisses. Dabei sollte für jeden Verwendungszweck das passende Dateiformat dabei sein. Wir haben hier die Formate

  • Plain-Text
  • Markdown
  • PDF
  • JPG
  • HTML
  • RTF
  • und Word.

Uns gefällt gut, dass die Schriftart und alle restlichen Eigenschaften des Dokumentes im Export übernommen werden. So ist man sehr flexibel, wenn es um das Teilen seiner Notizen geht.

Bear Export

Preise und Verfügbarkeit

Bear bekommt ihr für iOS, watchOS, iPadOS und macOS als kostenlosen Download. Für 1,49 Euro pro Monat oder 15,99 Euro pro Jahr aktiviert ihr die Synchronisation mit iCloud, alle verfügbaren Themes und die zahlreichen Exportoptionen.

‎Bear - Private Notizen

‎Bear - Private Notizen

Bear: Fazit

Bear ist wohl die am besten gestaltete Notizen-App im App Store. Die App bekam nicht umsonst einen Design Award von Apple. Zudem kann Bears Aussehen mit Themes vollkommen auf die eigenen Wünsche abgestimmt werden. Auch die Anpassbarkeit des Textbereiches gefiel uns.

Das Erstellen und Formatieren von Notizen geht mithilfe von Markdown sehr einfach und schnell von der Hand. Die Befehle gehen zügig ins Blut über und für den Beginn bekommt man ausreichend viele Hilfen. Egal ob Markdown-Profi oder Neuling, mit dem Schreibbereich sollte jeder gut zurechtkommen. Für die Profis ist durch die leicht veränderte Syntax aber eine kleine Umgewöhnung notwendig. Dass Notizen sehr intuitiv sortiert und auch sicher abgeriegelt werden können, sagte uns auch sehr zu.

Unter dem Strich setzt Bear aber auf drei sehr zentrale Werte, die heute bei Apps und Services wichtig sind: Anpassbarkeit, Kontinuität über Betriebssysteme und Sicherheit. Die Entwickler haben es geschafft, dass der Nutzer ein Apple-artiges Feeling beim Verwenden des Programms auf allen Geräten bekommt. Zusammen mit dem innovativen Ansatz beim Datenschutz hat man hier eine außergewöhnliches Paket im Angebot, das wir in der Redaktion nicht mehr missen möchten.

Habt ihr Bear vorher gekannt oder schon genutzt? Lasst uns gerne in den Kommentaren über eure Erfahrungen reden.

Bear Vollversion gewinnen

Und wer jetzt Lust hat, die Vollversion zu bekommen, der kann mit einem Kommentar unten in den Lostopf springen. Denn wir verlosen 10 Lizenzen für eine Vollversion von Bear (Affiliate-Link)! Das Gewinnspiel läuft eine Woche.

Viel Glück und danke fürs Lesen!

* Bei den hier genutzten Produkt-Links handelt es sich um Affiliate-Links, die es uns ermöglichen, eine kleine Provision pro Transaktion zu erhalten, wenn ihr über die gekennzeichneten Links einkauft. Dadurch entstehen euch als Leser und Nutzer des Angebotes keine Nachteile, ihr zahlt keinen Cent mehr. Ihr unterstützt damit allerdings die redaktionelle Arbeit von WakeUp Media®. Vielen Dank!

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