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MobileNoter vs OneNote for iPhone

Wednesday, 01/19/2011, 12:06 AM by admin

Microsoft has released their own OneNote client for iPhone (though it's available in USA only and can be installed only on devices with iOS 4.2) and we decided to compare it to MobileNoter.

Let's figure out what features Microsoft's app has in comparison to ours.




OneNote for iPhone

Synchronization with desktop OneNote


Notebooks in SkyDrive only

Synchronization through Internet



Synchronization through Wi-Fi network



Preserved formatting and layout in notes



Ability to create Quick Notes



Ability to create pages in notebooks

No, but will be added soon

Yes, but notebooks are stored in SkyDrive

Ability to create new notebooks on the device

No, but will be added soon


Tags support

Ability to view tags summary and change status of to-do tags

Ability to add to-do tags, no WPF tags summary

Ability to add images to notes



Inking in notes



Audio recordings support






Passcode lock feature




Well, as one can see there is still a lot of room to improve for Microsoft. Also, don't forget that MobileNoter has own versions for iPad and Android (Microsoft doesn't).


1/15/2011 3:55:01 AM #

Yes, OneNote on iPhone does not have all functions of MobileNoter. But Microsoft has achieved what MobileNoter has never been able to achieve: reliable and fast sync.

jfp |

1/22/2011 1:36:56 AM #

Fast sync is possible in both cases. What is better: to have more functions available or to spend 10m less on sync? I prefer the 1st variant. Reliability is achived by the widely-known name of the developer.

Writing iPad application |

1/15/2011 10:42:34 AM #


I am currently trying out MobileNoter on iPhone and I like the interface.  However, there are little to no "value adds" that make it worth the cost right now. There are some key features missing two of which you list in your comparison, creating notebooks, categories, and pages.  However there is an even bigger set of features missing that prevent me from moving from the free access Microsoft provides.

The first an for most you provide no web access to my Notebooks, Microsoft does. You are not compatible with Microsoft remote access, I either have to use you or them, I can use both. This is because you took my shared SkyDrive notebooks and made them local to a computer.  

I really think you should work with SkyDrive and allow us to store are data there if we want. This has many benefits, first being that we can still use the Microsoft remote access features alongside yours. Next it allows users more storage space, which the users control.  It removes the need for a PC Sync client, you can either leverage the Microsoft syncing with SkyDrive, or have the user Share there OneNotes in a secure way with that can then manage push and pull syncing for their Mobile clients.  This is the biggest feature missing preventing me from going beyond the trial and moving to a paid subscriber.

Also you have some errors on your comparison that should be noted.

First I am not sure what your definition of "Synchronization through Wi-Fi network" is but the Microsoft OneNote iPhone apps Syncs over Wi-Fi networks just fine. As the Wi-Fi is the most common way I access the Internet on my iPhone.

Next, again not sure what your definition of "Preserved formatting and layout in notes" but for all the notes I have, and I have many,  I never noticed any issues with the layouts going from Windows client to iPhone app.

Last you make it sound like requiring SkyDrive is a negative when in reality it is one of the biggest value adds Microsoft offers and its free.  It provides more space and more bandwidth than your service and its free.

I will say the most glaring missing feature from the iPhone app is the lack of no Search.  The inking and audio is not as bad of an oversight as the search, but they are important to some people and I would hope they would add these in the future.

There are three things missing from your comparison one which you do that they don't and one that they do well and you don't, the last being something they at least have available even if it may not be free or the free is challenging, that you lack completely.

The first positive thing you do that they do poorly is images and flagging them their text as searchable. You correctly flag them while the iPhone App marks this feature as disabled on the new images from the App.  To me this is very annoying that i have to enable this on every image I take form my phone, and guess what almost all images in my notes come from my phone.  So great job here MobileNoter.

However the next thing that they do well is "Near Real Time Sync", they seem to use a push style syncing that keeps things updated within less than a second in most cases.  I noticed with yours it seems I have to set the syncing timing to be 1 minute to get as close to this feature as possible.

Last one is support, you have zero support other than web based FAQ's. I have no e-mail address, or web form, forums, etc. With Microsoft I do get some free options, ways to at least report bugs, and make feature requests directly, active forums where I can post questions and almost always get quick response, usually from Microsoft employees.  They even have a paid support option if I so choose.

Anyway I think overall a good job on the interface and the features you do provide, but I personally feel it is lacking since there is a free competitor.  When you support SkyDrive and provided all the features that I get because of SkyDrive with your service plus additional features Microsoft doesn't I will definitely be a paying subscriber at that time.

Kind Regards,


Rodney |

1/15/2011 11:56:42 AM #

I think that's quite a harsh overview.

It's nice to have instantaneous updates like Onenote does, but 1 minute is more than sufficient, especially considering it's a third party software.

This blog or whatever is a good enough medium to communicate your difficulties via, as you have done right now.

I share a few notebooks with family and friends, and there's no possibility for me to access someone else's notebook via the iphone app (is there?). I think this is a huge limitation with a Skydrive-based approach.

Sync over Wifi means you don't need your internet connection to sync pages, making sync a much faster process.

When it comes to the in-app editing etc, sure there are a lot of weaknesses, but it's a young software and I'm hoping for great things to come in the future.

If you guys want to integrate Skydrive, that's fine, as long as it's an addition rather than a substitution of your current methods.

In any case, I do hope improvements are made with , but the pace at which they are occuring at the present moment is sufficient.

Ankush |

1/16/2011 5:35:12 AM #

Thank you for such a detailed comment!
I think I should clarify some statements. As Ankush has already mentioned, "Synchronization through Wi-Fi network" means no use of the Internet: you synchronize directly with a PC using LAN.
Yes, our application doesn't have direct sync with SkyDrive, but on the other hand it can transfer to iPhone (iPad, Android device) all notebooks that are accessible from the PC with MN Windows Sync Client.
"Preserved formatting and layout in notes" means that your notes look on the mobile device 100% the same way as pages in desktop OneNote (they are not being re-formatted in any way).
About support: we have it and always had. You can send an e-mail directly to or use our online support form (you may find a link to it on the roght side of our FAQ page).
Thanks again for your opinion and suggestions.

amolokoedov |

1/15/2011 12:19:43 PM #

I purchased the wifi version and it's been "synchronizing" for over 2 hours.

rob |

1/16/2011 6:08:04 AM #

The first synchronization can be quite long, especially if your notebooks are large in size.

amolokoedov |

1/18/2011 9:56:15 AM #

You're right!  It finally finished the initial sync.  Subsequent syncs have been MUCH faster..  Love this app!

rob |

1/15/2011 3:15:13 PM #

The thing I like about your product is that it isn't cloud based.  I don't want my notes in the cloud, but I do want them on my Ipad, Android Phone and Windows Desktop.  I don't even need to edit them on anything but my desktop, but I do like the ability to add new notes.  Basically, the showstopper for me is that your search doesn't highlight the results in the notes.  If I'm searching large a lot of notes for a text string there's no easy way to work with the results like there is with OneNote.  There's a lot of potential here, though.  I'm hoping your updates are coming sooner, rather than later.

Steve Flowers |

1/16/2011 6:13:40 AM #

The Android version already highlights search results, but in iOS version it's much harder to implement this function, But we are still going to add it.

amolokoedov |

1/17/2011 6:04:06 PM #

By the way, if highlighting is that hard, how about a way, via the search results, to 'jump' to the line(s) in the note containing the found text?  Just doing that (ok, just implies simple and I doubt anything is that simple!) would be a great workaround.

And, having used the free version for a few days I'm definitely going to register.  I really like this tool!

Quick question - if I buy the internet subscription does that include wifi sync?

Steve Flowers |

1/22/2011 1:33:33 AM #

Our development team will think if such implementation is possible.
Yes, Wi-Fi sync is included into Cloud Subscription.

amolokoedov |

1/15/2011 5:41:09 PM #

I believe your -biggest- missing feature is the lack of storage options for the OneNote notebook.  

I like the fact that Microsoft allows syncing with a OneNote notebook out "in the cloud" and that it does not require a PC sync client (requiring my computer to be always on and me be on my home network to sync to it).  Microsoft is closer but not there, either.  The problem with the Microsoft OneNote app is that it works with SkyDrive only.  While that is a decent option, I would also like the option to sync against the OneNote notebooks I have in my Internet-facing SharePoint site (BPOS).  

One way I would encourage you to differentiate yourself from Microsoft is to provide additional storage/syncing options for the OneNote notebooks.  I realize your pricing model may need to be revisited but it is likely worth it.  Let me store my OneNote notebook out in SharePoint and let me enter a URL (+uid/pwd) into MobileNoter and let it sync directly with that site.  That way, my PCs and my iPhone all can sync directly.

Eric |

1/16/2011 6:15:06 AM #

We're already working on a version with such type of sync, it will appear on Android platfrom first.

amolokoedov |

1/15/2011 9:58:38 PM #

Hey MobileNoter team, excellent work creating an app that is wonderful.  I think that the syncing problem is minuscule compared to the lack of features in some other apps.  I do have a question about the encode audio option.  I have clicked on install codec, but when I hit refresh, nothing updates and the codec is still not installed.  Please help me with this.

win7guru |

1/16/2011 6:18:58 AM #

Please send a letter to with replies to these questions:
Do you have the latest version of the Windows Sync Client?
Is there anything related to MobileNoter in Windows Event Log?
Which version of Windows are you using (please mention if it's 32-bit or 64-bit)?
Is the UAC on or off?
Were there an additional MobileNoter Codecs Manager window?

amolokoedov |

1/16/2011 5:33:30 PM #


The support is very well hidden it may as well not exist.  When I click the "Help & Support" option at the top of every page, (Which is sometimes just shown as "Help") I should have right away "Support" there is no way to send you an e-mail from this landing page.  The only page is on your FAQs page and its berried at the bottom right under the menu, not as part of it.

Your Synchronization through Wi-Fi network is a misnomer then, since it really is Sync through Local Network. Wi-Fi is no an days synonymous with Hot-spots, and Internet Accessibility.

Rodney |

1/16/2011 10:36:41 PM #

The one reason I use OneNote over something like Evernote is the ability to tag.  My notebooks are massive and used frequently and the tags are a huge part of keeping it all functioning.  I love the tag summary in mobilenoter and is the main reason why I'll keep using it.  However, the windows app adds the one thing I've been hoping for from mobilenoter, and that is the ability to add tags from my mobile device.  I do most of my work from my ipad, and the fact that I can't tag in mobilenoter means that I either can't use it to process all the work I'm doing, or I have to make separate notes and tag it later when I'm at my desk.  Now, I'll have the option of using the windows app to accomplish this.  

Adding pages is fine, but I've always been able to use Quick notes to do this.  I'd rather be able to add emails and webpage clips directly into OneNote.  Being able to add an email from the Mail app directly to mobilenoter, along with the ability to tag, would allow me to eliminate most of the work I'm forced to do on my laptop now.  

And since the dialog has been around things people would like to see, the one item I haven't really understood is why there are two links to "QuickNotes" on the main page of the ipad app.  I'd rather replace the link under "Shortcuts" with a customizable shortcut to a specific page or section of one of my notebooks.

Eric |

1/16/2011 11:17:41 PM #

I just spent over 20 hours in the past 2 days trying to get MS OneNote for iPod/etc to work.
The SkyDrive is no picnic, very buggy, frequently unavailable due to busy servers and crashing, and very erratic about updating some parts of some notebooks and not others. - Chaos !

A major benefit you haven't mentioned yet in your comparison about MobileNoter  is that it will work with OneNote 2007 files - which MS OneNote for Mobile (iPod/etc) cannot do at all. MS requires manual conversions to and purchase of OneNote 2010, then still can't fully sync, often "orphaning" sections of Noteboooks which the user then has to figure out which notebooks they belong to and manually reinserting them.

All of my OneNote notebooks are laden with tables, grahics, highlighting and drawings - these are just absent from the pages when I try to load them into my iPod/etc.

I am looking forward to simple "WiFi sync's" between my PCs and my iPod Touch without having to go to the SkyDrive cloud - which cannot handle my very large Notebooks (many MS knowledge base issues about people having to breakdown their large Notebooks into smaller pieces to use SkyDrive -- way too time consuming and confusing for me - I want to use the product not be a network and data administrator.)

In Time, hopefully MS can catch up to Mobile Noter - but first they have to rid themselves of the old "Windows CE" mentality that construes Mobile Device software as satelite programs that cannot alternately stand on their own functionally. (For example - there is No Way to DELETE any pages or sections of a Notebook using the iPod/etc.-and no way to organize on the iPod/etc. either. One has to go to the cloud or worse yet, try to get the cloud to work correctly as it invokes the OneNote 2010 software - which it returns communication errors about 95% of the attempts - really unusable.)

Good luck to both companies- as ultimately people like me will end up using both of your products.

Thank-you for addressing this gap. OneNote 2007 for the desktop is my single favorite and most heavily used piece of software. Its HTML, copy, paste, capture, organize, export,import/insert, associate w external files is phenomenal - a better thought out piece of software than anything else I have ever seen from MS. (including the current implementation of OneNote 2010 which is giving me problems).

Kanji Gurl |

1/16/2011 11:55:57 PM #

My comment has disappeared, so I apologize now if it reappears and this is a duplicate.
The matter of storage is interesting, but if that was my main concern, I'd be using Evernote. The reason I use OneNote over Evernote really comes down to tags, including the incorporation of outlook flags.  My notebooks are massive and tags are the only way to keep them functional.  Thus, the tag summary in mobilenoter is fantastic.  I can quickly get to the notes I need.  However, the missing piece in mobilenoter that's at least partly available in the windows app is the ability to add tags.  Without this, mobilenoter has simply been a reference tool.  But the ability to add tags will allow my ipad to be used to process the volumes of data that I push over to OneNote and free me from spending all my time in front of my computer.  It's looking like I'll be using both tools, mobilenoter for reference and the windows app for actually working with my notes.

I see that an upcoming feature will allow for adding pages.  I've always felt that QuickNotes does a good enough job with that, requiring me simply to file the note in the correct notebook when I'm back at my computer.  The feature I'd really like to see is the ability to add content from the Mail app or a browser directly to mobilenoter.  I throw dozens of emails into OneNote daily and the ability to do this from my iPad would free me from much of my time in front of a computer.  

Finally, though not a comparison to the Windows app, I just want to point out something that has always confused me.  The iPad app has two links to Quicknotes on the home screen.  I would rather have the QuickNotes link under the "Shortcuts" header customizable to allow a link directly to specific pages in a notebook and thus work more like a bookmark.

Thanks for all the work to date.  It's been great having access to all of my notebooks while away from my office.

Eric |

1/17/2011 5:54:03 PM #

Re: support for MobileNoter, I have to say I have been consistently impressed. I've had two or three fairly esoteric problems with page formatting and display issues, and each time I've used the support request form I've had a detailed reply quickly (within 24 hours). The team provides quick updates to actually resolve the issues I've raised or if they're simply not possible with current implementation or in future plans they've let me know about this - nothing has been left to languish unanswered like with so many other software support experiences I've had.

I use mobilenoter every day with large and fairly complex notebooks and having tried SkyDrive I find MobileNoter much less cumbersome, and much more faithful to the display of the actual OneNote notebook. Keep up the good work!

DW |

1/18/2011 2:05:40 AM #

I use MS OneNote 07 everyday in school but usually I insert a power point presentation as a handout and then write my notes on the sides of the document. I’m currently testing Mobilenoter on my iPhone and found that for some reason synchronizations go through without a problem but those pages in which I have pdf/power point slides along with my notes won’t show on my iPhone. Is this supported? I tried inserting pictures in  blank pages to see whether there was an issue as well and after synchronization they were all visible in my iPhone no problem. Is there perhaps a fee to be paid to view the slides within a page on Mobilenoter as there is on Evernote?
Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Adrian Cora |

1/21/2011 4:05:21 AM #

These types of attachments are supported by MobileNoter and should be opened on the iPhone without problems. How do pages with those files look on iPhone? Are there icons of the files?

amolokoedov |

1/20/2011 8:29:01 AM #

As a mobile technology specialist who appreciates Microsoft's server and application offerings both on premise and in the cloud would it be crass to suggest that you concentrate going forward on the android?

I'm happy to setup clients on iphone/ipads but I'm not a big fan of Apple. As Jerry Pournelle was quoted "With Apple it is either very easy or impossible." I've found the Android devices to be more flexible.

Doug Steinschneider |

1/21/2011 4:08:22 AM #

Now we are concentrated on integragitng key features into the Android application but we continue to develop the iOS applications as well. So, there will be plenty of interesting updates in future.

amolokoedov |

1/21/2011 7:56:30 AM #

With all due respect to the original poster of this particular comment, and without wanting to take this topic down the lines of debating Android vs. iOS, I would urge you to keep innovating for iOS, as well.  My enterprise is a big Microsoft (and, thus, OneNote) shop and we are piloting iOS devices for internal use.  I imagine you will want to be positioned to seize potential markets like this.  So it is both on a personal and a professional level that I would urge you to continue to innovate for iOS.

Is it your intent that the Android and iOS versions of the application have the same features?  And what about the timing of the two applications going forward?  Should we expect that one platform's application will have the newer features first?  Or is it your intent to version them together?  

Eric |

1/22/2011 1:35:28 PM #

Agree both platforms should get equal attention, just eager to be able to add a note from my Android. On Windows Mobile I mostly added photo notes which were often "scans" (you'd be surprised how legible a smartphone photo of an 8x10 document is). With iPad and Android units I will probably create more text notes as input is much easier than on Windows Mobile

Doug Steinschneider |

1/23/2011 1:23:22 PM #

Generally the list of features will be the same for all platforms. Some options will be added to the Android application first and then ported to iOS version, because it's much easier to deal with Android Market then App Store and Androis users are usually more technologically savyy.

amolokoedov |

1/21/2011 4:10:05 AM #

I want to say thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions. Your opinion is important for us and helps to improve our app!

amolokoedov |

1/21/2011 11:05:52 AM #

As a new user I'm pleased to see how MobileNoter syncs ALL notebooks with OneNote, not only the mobile notebook like in Windows Mobile.

However I miss a lot creating new notebooks or specially new pages, subpages or renaming them. Please work hard and fast on that.

Editing existing text is still a huge issue to me. I still don't get editing text easily (usually a new outline is created instead) and I do not manage to paste text or pictures from elsewhere. Ist that due to my lack of editing knowledge with Iphone??

Where do I get a step-by-step guide for editing for MobileNoter.

Besides that, the app. is great.

Tks, Virgilio

Virgilio |

1/23/2011 1:19:05 PM #

In the current version you cannot paste text into OneNote pages, only in Quick Notes. Images are added in other way: you need to use the button at the bottom of the screen and add a picture from library or take a new one using camera.

amolokoedov |

1/21/2011 11:15:26 AM #

One great advantage of MobileNoter is that it syncs ALL notebooks from OneNote and not only the mobile notebooks like in Windows Mobile.

When can we expect to have a new Iphone version with creation of new notebooks, pages, subpages? This function is highly appreciated.

I am also facing a lot of difficulty to edit pages, inserting new text, editing tables or pasting things from other applications. Is that due to my little practice with Iphone?

Besides that, tks for the great job.


Virgilio |

1/23/2011 1:16:12 PM #

Such version is planned to be released in Q1 2011, probably in the beginning of the spring.
I agree, in some cases text editing may be not very convenient, but we're going to improve it.

amolokoedov |

1/23/2011 1:58:37 AM #

One feature that I am curious whether its possible and if so are you working on it -- the ability to use the "open in" feature of iOS to open a document, pdf, etc. into Mobile Noter and have it become a note page.  That would essentially give your application key desktop funcationality.  I am already anxiously awaiting the ability to add pages to notebooks from within the app.  

MileHiPad |

1/23/2011 1:13:51 PM #

You can open documents and pdf files in MobileNoter if you have inserted the file into one of your pages in OneNote. But you can only view such files on the mobile device and cannot modify them.

amolokoedov |

1/24/2011 6:18:29 AM #

I completely agree with MileHiPad.  He's not speaking of the ability to open these different formats from Mobilenoter, but the ability to open TO MobileNoter, essentially creating a new page.  I mentioned above that I'd like to be able to add email, pdfs and web pages, and this method would clearly achieve that, and is consistent with processes used to get items into apps like Note Taker.  From my iPad, I'm opening pdf's into Note Taker which I can then annotate while reading/reviewing; I email the finished annotated copy back to myself and load into OneNote on my computer, which syncs it back to my iPad.  It's a bit cumbersome.  It would be great to be able to push these items directly to MobileNoter as new pages.  Right now, MobileNoter is more of a reference tool.  If I want to add notes on the iPad I've been using Note Taker or Penultimate.  

Eric |

1/23/2011 7:27:10 PM #

Just want to thank the developers for this wonderful software.

Although there are some functionality that I miss, more than comment on them I would rather like to suggest to the developers to build a roadmap of planned features, and maybe ask users our opinion of their priority.


Patricio |

1/23/2011 8:52:00 PM #

I really like the OneNote app because it allows me to add a new note to an existing notebook; I look forward to MobileNoter having the same functionality.

Mobilenoter remains a strong choice, however, due to the correct rendering of tables - I have tables in many of my notes and since the Microsoft App doesn't even make an attempt at them yet it is really lagging behind Mobilenoter.

Kristen |

1/25/2011 2:23:24 AM #

I have used MobileNoter for the trial period with my iphone and desktop edition.

I rate it 7/10.

It's good and close to great, but not spell-bindingly fantastic. And it could be spell-bindingly fantastic!

Advantages: It's plain gui is quick and simple to use. I like the navigation like how the menu's stack and fold/unfold. The sync feature across cloud and wifi is important, though as I go into my next semester at university I think I'd find the wifi feature less useful, perhaps. Particularly since my university decided to give all students MS LiveID accounts. I don't have much choice here and so it looks like I'll be using the MS OneNote app anyway. I'd swtay with MobileNoter if it could be pointed to access my cloud on the LiveID server, but that seems quite unlikely. The biggest advantagse are the wifi syncing, audio handling.

Below ("Disadvantages") is where it really must improve to be a stand out alternative to what MS will I'm sure eventually offer as they develop it more and more.

Disadvantages: Page creation is missing and editing are problematic things about this app. The latter for me is the most problematic because it feels clunky and not familiar like the native editing. It is frustrating and I have thus used it more to 'take my notes with me' to read because it is not convenient to have to continually try to locate the cursor to the desired position on the page to edit. The editing feature should behave exactly as the native Os does. Page creation is a logical step to add, and goes along the same lines as editing.

Nb: I also quite like Patricio's idea.

Nick |

1/27/2011 4:50:52 AM #

C'est la prise de tete comme d'ab avec microsoft, il y a toujours des trucs qui manquent, le produit n'est pas un pakage autonome, c'est dommage ,je renonce a installer cette apli...

Yves Guillaumond |

1/29/2011 11:17:23 AM #

De quel produit parlez-vous, MobileNoter ou OneNote pour iPhone? Si vouz avez des questions concernants MobileNoter, n'hésitez-pas de vous adresser à l'assistance technique:

marie_l |

1/30/2011 6:53:33 PM #

The team provides quick updates to actually resolve the issues I've raised or if they're simply not possible with current implementation or in future plans they've let me know about this - nothing has been left to languish unanswered like with so many other software support experiences I've had.

Mathew Hayden |

1/30/2011 9:18:51 PM #

The biggest glaring issue with the Microsoft app is that you cannot open embedded files. The developers of Mobilenoter need to point this out in their list of perks. If I attach a pdf, ppt, doc, etc to a notebook page mobilenoter will open the file for me to read. The onenote app (and webapp) says [embedded] or [file] and you cannot open the file. Photos are cute and it's great you can attach them, but opening documents is a big deal and Microsoft seems to have ignored this.

Mike |

2/3/2011 6:12:43 AM #

Mobile Noter has been a great application for me.The pages appear as I formated them on my computer.  I like the user interface.  I am not sure what the complaint was about taking a long time to sync.It is less then a minute for me through wifi.

The only two dissappointing things are that load times for a page are long. The second is that One Noter appears to not load a page over a certain size. This means I have to delete embeded audio, and split the pages before I can sync. It seems that a page with a table any longer then about 30 rows (text inside each row) will not load. It is a frustration I have just learned to live with.

I see no reason why I would switch to the Microsoft's version unless it will actually load a page without me having to reformat it to reduce the file size. Apart from that One Noter does everything I need it to do.

Daniel |

2/10/2011 7:57:23 AM #

I have been trying for the last 10 hours to get synched via wifi. It still has not work. I am using windows 7 and iphone. My computer has not shown up on my list and the manual sync does not work. I did not receive a reply back from customer support yet.

jack |

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