Two great iOS companion apps if you’re not happy with Obsidian on mobile

I tried using Obsidian on iOS and lowkey hated it. On the iPhone, the interface gets in the way as it’s clearly not designed for a small screen. On the iPad, Obsidian doesn’t mesh well with the external keyboard as it ignores the iPadOS conventions. So I started to look for a companion app.

I settled on Taio: it’s less known but surprisingly feature-rich. It’s pretty much compatible with Obsidian and handles some differences well (e.g., it can’t display PDFs within a note but it will still recognize ![[this notation]] as a link and will open the PDF in a new tab if clicked. It also has built-in PDF annotation tools.) It supports Wikilinks and pipe links, and it can add any iCloud folders to its library so you can point it to your existing Obsidian vault without having to move it or anything. The only thing you’re going to miss is if you’re using any very divergent plugins like Dataview, for obvious reasons.

And recently, iA Writer added support to Wikilinks, and I’ve been testing it with positive impressions. The main downside is that it doesn’t support PDF preview in any shape or form.

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I don’t think they like alternatives being discussed here, but that should not deter you.
I think the iOS app will always have limitations for the sole purpose that the majority of people not knowing how to use other means like GIT will buy the sync off of them.

What gave you the impression people don’t like to discuss alternatives here? Honestly, that would be off-putting behavior, and it wouldn’t even cross my mind to censor myself on here. People have been discussing various workflows and tools with no issue.

I’m not sure what you mean with your sync comment, either. You can set up vaults on iCloud and sync them between iOS and the Mac for free.

The fact is, Obsidian is clearly written for computers first, and has been clunky on mobile. I understand that the dev team is small and it would be unreasonable to expect them to focus on the mobile experience at this stage. So I think it’s fair to look for better mobile options that work reliably with Obsidian vaults until the time comes that the devs can give the mobile apps more attention.

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Yes. Been true from the beginning.

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I try to think with other people’s heads too.
Having said that, I also found that Taio suits me. They have to iron out some kinks (diacritics and relative paths to images, for instance, although in the meantime I batch-changed all filenames for images), which is why I did not deter myself from contacting them.
The app has some bugs but going back to continue with my work takes all of two seconds, or less, which is why I cannot see myself using Obsidian mobile, much as I would love to learn my way around it on the pad which I need to use.

Cheers

Taio devs are the fastest people I’ve ever seen in terms of fixing bugs. I am a heavy user so I email them from time to time when I discover a bug or a problem. Every single time, the bug was fixed in the very next release. They are unreal.

I’m backwards and actually started with Taio before moving completely to Obsidian. I really liked Taio for its simplicity and folders, which is why I went away from Drafts (I HATED how I couldn’t put things into folders. I much prefer folders over tags). A unique feature Taio has is its actions but I never tried them because they require a subscription. I moved to Obsidian once I found out about plugins. Another thing is I’m big on shortcuts, automation, etc. and Taio didn’t have what I was looking for. I think most people don’t know about Taio so there’s no community like Obsidian.

However I use Obsidian on my ipad with no problems other than some plugins are Mac only, like kindle highlights. Otherwise it’s pretty good on ipad.

You can also buy Taio with a one-time purchase but it’s pretty expensive. I grabbed it back when it was cheaper.

On topic of this thread, I just discovered by accident that iA Writer even supports transclusion in Obsidian notation right now i.e. ![[this]]. Only works with whole documents (not headers or blocks) but it’s something.

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Another upside for Taio is that you sync your notes for free with Git using Working Copy (pull) and a-Shell (add-commit-push) if iCloud is not your cup of tea or if you have 30-40000 files (that is bound to floor iCloud on setup, at least on Windows).
Taio can see other file providers’ folders like WC or Spck Editor (which can also handle smaller git repos with free pull and push capabilities) while Obsidian can be set up for two folders only.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make WC and iSH work like they said here, so I cannot use Obsidian and Taio at the same on iPad (I like the preview better in Obsidian).

I have to log in to reply this thread. This is misleading. I use only ipad as my only computer and ObsidiAn mobile is great on ipad too !!! And trust me, my vault is not simple, it have 41 plugins, with a lot of dataview code and template from templater but work sooo fast with almost no bug , to the point that got me surprise how well and good effort the obsidian mobile team put in the app !!
Some advice :

  • use Cybertron theme, or Primary theme (same creator), it’s the best on mobile !
  • read a lot on this 4rum and think super hard about optimize your workflow. With plugin and a smart workflow, obsidian is life-changer tool, help me free and joyfull to play organize my digital life !!
  • pdf thing is not a problem on obsidian on ipad ! There is a workflow for that ! Hint: Is a combination of pdf highlight plugin, highlight pdf app, and pdf expert. Put your pdf in vault on icloud, use these two pdf app to highlight, then use pdf highlight plugin to extract !!
  • i use magic keyboard, NO PROBLEM with obsidian whatsoever !!
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I have almost the same workflow but use XoDo to highlight pdf.

Glad it works for you. Doesn’t for me. In such a big community, I’m sure I’m not alone so I shared some options I prefer. How is that misleading?

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I came here looking for this thread because I have issues using Obisidian on mobile. The thing that you’ve said is “not a problem” requires a combination of external solutions to work - surely you can see that this might make it actually a problem for people? Note also that iOS does not always mean iPad - I agree that the iPad experience is better.

Anyhow, some of the issues I have with Obsidian on mobile are related to notes loading, plugins not working on mobile, and limited share sheet functionality. As customisable as it is, I haven’t managed to find a sticky or adjustable workflow for mobile; there’s a lot of friction and I don’t want to spend all of my thinking time troubleshooting. I’m not planning to replace Obsidian at all, but I do think I’ll try Taio and/or iA Writer to see if I can fix my mobile workflow issues.

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Same here

Look, your reply is in assume that Obsidian must do more on PDF things too, right ? But, actually PDF things is a small part of Obsidian feature. Obsidian is not design in rich PDF features as other “PDF focus” app out there. Just basic reading.
Normally, without knowing about or using Obsidian at all, we usually use those two PDF app to highlight pdf. Now, with “highlight plugin”, in Obsidian we can process our highlight further more ! That’s the smart way, the best of both world ! It’s actually an improved workflow to get more done.

People who want more and more features to get the most out of Obsidan MUST putting strong research effort to community plugin section, don’t relie on core feature only. Keep that in mind.
Again, we shouln’t assume Obsidian to do the best on everything. We find a way to combine and optimize our workflow to get the best result as expect.

In actual use case about PDF, it’s simple and i don’t think nobody cannot do this or find this become a problem at all to them. 2 steps:

  1. In Files app, open Obsidian vault folder, inside it, get to folder that contain those pdf. Use “PDF Highlight” or “PDF expert” to read and highlight as usual. This is common regular task that people doing everyday, how the hell this step is a part of problem or somthing ?
  2. Back to Obsidian, use keyboard shortcut of “pdf highlight” plugin to extract those highlight to process futher. That plugin installed through community plugin section.
  • To me, notes loading time on my ipad pro 12.9 never be a problem. It’s fast. I have 41 plugin and use a lot of dataview and templater code.

  • I only install mobile compatible plugin. So if it work on mobile, it’ll work on all other.

  • Like no other, swim around finding and use a lot of fancy other app, i intended to research how to use Obsidian as much as i can. Planning, tasking, noting, reviewing, people & metting management… all link and combine together through my Obsidian workflow, mostly all additional features came from community plugin. All other app just use as a support (example: i use todoist link plugin to put out task that have specific time and need alert to Todoist app (which link to google calendar))

  • I totally agree that for new user who don’t have time and effort to research about community plugin, may find the original Obsidian (not use community plugin at all) a little hard to get use to, and sometime getting loss (dont know what to do next and how to do it in a best way) as i did 6 months ago.
    But, step by step, after first plugin research and installed (usually a simple low-fruit-hanging easy to understand plugin), the workflow gonna grow up then you get not good, but best result to suit your need. To the point that you realize how powerfull of Obsidian is, like no other app can replicate the experience.

  • In my research, the closest and best competitor of Obsidian mobile is Amplenote. In a power user eyes, is not customable as Obsidian + community plugin, so is a no for me. But for a normal common user who want rich features out of the box to get tasks done, it’s a good option.

Thanks for recommending Taio. One thing I missed from Apple Notes is how quick I can start typing. With Obsidian on iOS, I often have to wait 10-20 seconds for iCloud sync to happen before I have a usable app, and sometimes the editor is laggy after that, so I’ve been looking for a decent Markdown app that lets me just write and save, while supporting wikilinks.

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With Obsidian sync and TfTHacker’s Faststart script you can start writing in 1-3 seconds on iOS :slight_smile: