iPhone: Simplenote Review

The biggest downside of the default Notes application in iPhone is that you cannot view or edit the notes outside of the phone if you don’t use Mail.  A plethora of Notes applications is available on the app store to plug this gap. Among them Simplenote stands out for its elegant design, narrow focus and splendid execution. Simplenote was available earlier only as a paid app but the developers have recently decided to release it for free with ads.

On opening the app for the first time, you will be required to create an account. This account is to login to the simplenote web application to view and edit the notes. The web application is as well designed as the app and user interface is very similar to that of the app.  The iPhone app and web applications automatically syncs with each other (If the app is open).  This is convenient as it makes your notes available to you even if you don’t have your iPhone with you. All you need is a browser and internet connection. If you want to edit the notes with a native mac app, there are several options available. If you are a Dashboard user, Dashnote looks like a good option with an extremely clean interface.

Somehow I have always felt writing in the default notes app like a chore. Not so with Simplenote. The user interface is very easy on the eye and creating long notes is surprisingly easy. I was able to write several blog posts using the app while I was travelling. I'm sure I'm not the only one who uses iPhone while lying down and the screen orientation changes sometimes drive me crazy. Thankfully you can lock the screen orientation in Simplenote and saved me a lot of hassle. I hope Apple makes this a system wide setting instead of letting the app developers duplicating their efforts.

Creating a note is frictionless. On clicking the plus sign a new note page opens up, ready for you to enter text. As with the inbuilt notes app there are no tags, folders or titles. The title is the first line of your note. From the notes page you can also email the notes or delete it. The notes are listed in descending order of modification date and in the list view you can also swipe to delete the notes. The list view also supports searching the notes and it works well.

I’m of two minds in deciding whether the app is too simple or just right. My only gripe is the lack of any organizational capability. I would have liked optional tags support. The app is ad supported and  a premium account option is available. Premium account holders will be able to disable ads, create notes by email, access RSS feed of notes, backups and support and  costs 4.99$/year right now. Except for the backups, which will save all revisions of your notes and even deleted notes, I do not find the other premium features very attractive.  All in all it is a splendid app and I hope the developers enjoy success with this freemium model.

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