Squarespace Note Makes Note-taking Simple

I’ve made it no secret that I’m a fan of Squarespace. In fact, my personal blog runs on the service and I’ve somewhat brazenly said that the folks at Squarespace and I share the same taste for good design. That’s one of the many reasons I was interested in the Squarespace Note app.

My history with note taking on the iPhone is all over the place. I don’t use the stock Notes app anymore because I hate yellow notepad paper, but iOS 7 could change that. I love Simplenote right now, which sits on my homescreen and is used almost every day. Evernote is okay, but I feel like it’s gotten slower and more laborious to use with time. I use Day One for journalling and Byword for Web articles, but I’ve been all over the place. Squarespace Note is supposed to make my life a little easier by hopefully filling in a few of these blanks at once.

Making Introductions

First things first: Squarespace Note doesn’t require a Squarespace account. It can sync with a Squarespace account. Somewhat ironically, I’ve decided that’s the app’s least worthwhile feature and I’ve ended up deciding not to use it.

I have, however, set up Squarespace Note to sync with the other services that I’m using all the time. Namely, the app can sync with Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, email and Google Drive. Setting up all the services only took a couple of minutes before I was ready to go.

This is how simple the interface is.

This is how simple the interface is.

The app has a very simple, not-quite-but-sort-of beautiful interface. It’s not unlike Drafts, in the sense that it’s a simple app that lets you churn out a bunch of words and send them to whatever service you desire. It’s cheaper than Drafts, which I think a lot of people will find appealing, and it’s a little less powerful than Drafts, which means it’s a little bit more consumer-friendly.

It's easy to set up services and it only took a couple minutes before I was ready to go.

It’s easy to set up services and it only took a couple minutes before I was ready to go.

My mother could probably use this app, which is my barometer for how user-friendly an app is. It’s gesture-based; swiping to the right will open a tray of sent notes, and swiping to the left will open up the services you can sync a note with. The main screen is simply a blank page to write on, and whenever you’re ready to sync your note, you just flick up. Pretty simple.

In Practice

Some people are already scoffing at this review I’m sure, because you can do so much more with Drafts. In fact, let me ask some of your questions for you. “Why can’t I send a tweet to Tweetbot? Why can’t I write a text message? Why can’t I change the email address I want to write to? This is too simple.”

You'll note here that only one account per service is allowed.

You’ll note here that only one account per service is allowed.

The answer lies in that last statement — that admission of simplicity. The bottom line is that Squarespace is designed to be stupidly simple. It’s mean to get you in and get you out as quickly as possible. Not unlike Squarespace’s web services, I think that Squarespace is assuming you might understand the complexities of iOS and know that Drafts has more options. You just might not care and prefer simplicity.

So what you’re left with is a very simple service, again, like Squarespace itself, that’s designed to take away all the thought processes of “that other” app. Some people, and I’m sure you know who you are, are going to find that infuriating. This app isn’t for you. But for somebody like my mother, who might just want an easy way to save a few quick notes, this app could be all she needs.

In the Details

Let’s talk about some of the problems with the app that are associated with this simplicity too, because even my mother could find frustration with some of this.

First of all, although it’s easy to set up an email, it’s not easy to change that email. You can’t maintain a list of email addresses with a pre-defined default email address. You can’t even open your note in Mail.app to send the email or choose from a list of recipients.

If you send a file to Dropbox, it’s saved as a .txt, which I can get behind. I know others will again lambast the app because it’s not complicated enough to work with their third-party workflows, and those people are right, but again, it’s not the app for them.

You can return to a note in the file tray and quickly share it with additional services.

You can return to a note in the file tray and quickly share it with additional services.

There are some things that are really irksome though, things that would drive anybody crazy. The app’s got a few bugs. Although I’m able to send notes without a problem to any service I’ve chosen to, many App Store reviewers have indicated that the sync feature often breaks on them.

The app also doesn’t close properly. If you close it with the Home button and reopen it, it seems to experience a glitch where it simply doesn’t allow you to sync notes or select services. It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens often enough to be incredibly frustrating.

The app supports basic editing.

The app supports basic editing.

Finally, the app does allow some basic editing. You can swipe to the file tray and select a note you want to edit. From there, some basic changes can be made. The app doesn’t support Markdown or anything like that, so again, the key word is basic.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that Squarespace Note is incredibly basic. It doesn’t fit a lot of needs. It’s not powerful enough to replace anything on my home screen. But I’m also an advanced user.

That being said, if I was a basic user — like my mother — Squarespace Note might be for me. I’m the first person she calls about apps, and I’ve seen some terrible note-taking options on her iPhone. Squarespace Note, for her, might make life a little easier. For those who just need something really simple to help them get through the day, Squarespace Note is a worthwhile experience. Others can move along.


Summary

An incredibly simple product with a couple of bugs that may prove useful for some, but frustratingly limited for many.

6