Notion, the workspace and note-taking app, just became much more appealing to individual users. The company said today that people on its free plan will now be able to create unlimited notes, making it a top contender for anyone in the market for a sophisticated note-taking app or collaboration software.
Previously, users of Notion’s free plan could create 1,000 of what the company calls “blocks”: individual elements you add to Notion documents, such as text, tasks, embedded maps, or calendars. After that, you had to pay $5 per month to create new blocks.
Now, free users will be able to add as many blocks as they like to their personal Notion database. The app’s community has built a broad range of templates highlighting potential uses: creating to-dos, keeping a journal, storing recipes, making a list of books to read, or publishing simple websites through a tool that allows you to make Notion pages public. Job seekers are using this feature to create dynamic resumes that point to their work, the company says. (Here’s one example.)
You can also add up to five “guests” on a free account. A guest can edit or comment on pages, allowing for lightweight collaboration. The company put up a page showcasing other uses here.
The market for note-taking and collaboration apps is crowded and growing. Among tech giants, choices include Google’s G Suite and Microsoft Office. Among private companies, Evernote, Bear, and the upstart Coda all have their partisans. And plenty of people get by with the basic notes app that comes preinstalled on their phone or laptop.
Making Notion’s free plan more generous represents an effort to lure in more people and broaden the top of the company’s sales funnel. (The company introduced a free version for students and teachers last fall.)
“The biggest motivation is just capturing market share — getting more people to use Notion,” says Akshay Kothari, Notion’s chief operating officer.
Notion has intended to make the personal plan free since last year, said Ivan Zhao, Notion’s CEO. But the company delayed it amid a surge in usage related to COVID-19 and global stay-at-home orders. The company does not disclose user numbers, but says it is “seeing record signups every day” — sometimes double the pre-pandemic volume, Zhao said.
While the basic plan will become free, Notion will also introduce a paid personal plan with premium features. The plan, which will cost $5 a month or $48 a year, includes unlimited file size uploads, unlimited guests, version history, priority customer service and access to tools that take advantage of Notion’s forthcoming API.
Notion is relatively simple to start using, but advanced features come with a learning curve that can be daunting for people who are used to a more simple note-taking app. I’ve found that it’s particularly good for project planning and research — organizing an event, say, or putting a big article together — and as an archive for recipes, links, and other personal information. My favorite feature is one that allows you to embed an external webpage inside a Notion document, allowing me to run a full-fledged to-do list app inside my Notion homepage.
For simple notes, I continue to use the most lightweight solution that I can find. (Bear, in my case.) But for the growing number of things in my life that benefit from real organization and collaboration, I’m increasingly turning to Notion. If you’re in the market for a free notes app that goes beyond simple text storage, it’s well worth checking out.