I’m a huge note taker. It’s one of my primary use cases for my iPhone. I’ve collected all sorts of apps to help me do it, but Simplenote is the one I find myself coming back to nearly every day. It’s always fast and it works the way I work, getting me in and out of notes as quickly as possible.
Simplenote has recently received a major upgrade. For those of you who are already fans, you’re going to like it even more. For those of you who aren’t fans, it might be time to think about ditching the stock Notes app and switching to a better, more robust experience.
Simplenote’s Big Features
Simplenote is an app that’s meant to make it easy for you to, well, take simple notes. There’s no way to highlight, bold or italicize your text. It’s not compatible with Markdown. But it does a number of things so right that it would be silly to ignore it.
First, there are tags. It’s easy to tap and add a tag to your note. Instead of organizing in folders, you just use tags to do it, and it works marvellously.
Second, it syncs. And it syncs so fast that it’s a wonder it’s not using iCloud. Simplenote is owned by the folks behind WordPress, and it’s almost surprising it syncs as quickly as it does (WordPress isn’t always the most reliable CMS in the world). But I’ve never once had an issue with Simplenote.
Finally, the app is insanely quick. It’s easy to get in and out of the app and just do what you need to do, which means that I’m a happy camper. I’ve always believed that utility or productivity apps should be about speed, and Simplenote is very much about speed.
Of course, an app that focuses on simple note-taking is going to get much more impressive on iOS 7 because of iOS 7’s deference to content.
The update to Simplenote makes it a much cleaner app to both look at and use. It’s somehow gotten faster to open a note, for example. But in practice, it’s the little things that will make the most difference. Being able to swipe to the right to go back to the list of notes or go back in a menu saves a lot of time in an app that was already pretty quick.
But even more impressive is how much more quickly I can now add a tag. And instead of having to learn the app, the app now teaches you as you go through subtle little hints.
For example, the first line of the note is the title. The title text is now larger than the body text, but only by a couple font sizes. It’s enough to make a clear difference.
The update also brings clarity to the menus. Now, swiping the notes grid to the right reveals a menu with all the tags you’ve been organizing your notes with.
Searching is also easy to do right from the list of notes. Just pulling down on the notes brings up an easy-to-use search menu that works very quickly. In keeping up with iOS 7 aesthetics, it’s clean and modern.
The Info Pane
When you’re writing a note, you’re going to notice a few new additions. The first are some changes to the Info pane. Tapping the little “i” on the top right of the screen will bring up a little pane that looks similar to a Share Sheet.
It’s different than a Share Sheet, though. It’s got a word count and an easy way to collaborate with people via email. Anybody you invite can add to the note. I wish that I knew about this feature, because I honestly could have used it yesterday. It’s going to be tremendously popular and easy to use.
You can, of course, share it in the traditional way via iMessage, email, Twitter or Facebook. Airdrop is now a viable option, and the Share Sheet lets you copy a note’s whole text straight to the iPhone’s clipboard. In this sense, Simplenote is duplicating a small bit of Drafts’ functionality. It’s certainly not replacing Drafts, but it’s making it easier for those of us who want to use Simplenote exclusively.
There’s a great new History feature. It’s very easy to use, sort of like Time Machine for Simplenote. I wish it was a bit more visual, but beggars can’t be choosers.
There is one addition to the Info pane that’s completely new, and that’s publishing. I’d imagine this comes from having WordPress as the new author. This published your post in a public place with a long, unmemorable link. It’s an easy way to share links with people who don’t use Simplenote so they can see the note you’ve worked on and want to share.
The nice thing about the feature is that you can un-publish anything you’ve published. For once, nothing on the Internet has to stay permanent. Sometimes, even if the Web is written in ink, an app like Simplenote brings cool features like an ink eraser to the party.
Wrapping It Up
Simplenote is still a simple note app. With the latest update for iOS 7, there are a few new features that really help make the service better and even more polished. The new design is a huge winner, but one that’s better experienced than it is seen. What’s really interesting to me is the Info pane and the Publishing features. Those are going to be great for people who need to collaborate with friends, families or coworkers.
The bottom line, though, is that the app is simply an improved experience. For those who haven’t used Simplenote before, now’s the perfect time to start. For those who have, you’re going to love the update you get here. Simplenote is still free on the App Store.