Drafts for iOS

Drafts for iphone I tried out Drafts this past week. I was skeptical of it because its developer also did Terminology, which I had heard was great, but didn’t really like. Agile Tortoise doesn’t make pretty apps. Drafts is also a bit of an eyesore. The original theme for Drafts was a mess of browns that looked like the inside of a toilet bowl after a large bowl of spicy curry. There’s a gray theme that isn’t much better looking, but at least it isn’t brown.

Drafts is a weird mixture of tweet composer, note composer and email composer. Drafts is definitely not a place to keep text. It’s a place to start a thought and then move it off somewhere else. You can send text to Omnifocus, Simplenote or any other app that utilizes the “Open in…” function in iOS. There’s a “Send to Dropbox…” function, but since you can only send text files to /Apps/Drafts, its use is limited for me. I want to be able to save to any folder I wish, and I know it’s possible, but the developer claims that Dropbox prefers you to use “/Apps/[app name]“. So for the sake of making Dropbox happy, you’re stuck with no options. Elements and Taskpaper let you use any folder, but Drafts will not. It’s pretty lame.

I’ve found it useful to use Drafts when I want to quickly get something out of my head though. Drafts automatically opens up a new note when you launch it. From there, it’s one tap to send it to Omnifocus’ inbox or create a note in Simplenote. I also like that it auto-tags new Simplenote notes with the “Drafts” tag. I’d like it even more if I could choose my own custom tag to be assigned, but I won’t hold my breath. I know I can accomplish these same things (minus the auto-tag) with Launchpad. Launchpad still requires you to open the app and then choose your macro you’ve created. It feels faster launching into a text window straight from the home screen.

Drafts could also be very useful for creating templates. You can keep a draft of something, and use actions like send to Simplenote, Tweetbot or email whenever. Unlike Launchpad which doesn’t allow you to have line breaks when you create “Create new note with [insert text]” macros, Drafts would allow you to create relatively complex templates. Of course, if TextExpander Touch allowed for fill-ins on iOS, you could do everything with TextExpander like you would on OS X. (Sad face.)

Drafts is an interesting application and it certainly has its uses. It’s not going to replace any app you already have, but it’s possible that you could find a way to use Drafts that augments your currently used applications.

Still Using Simplenote

Simplenote New  iPhone

Simplenote has been a mainstay on my iPhone’s homescreen. I started using Simplenote at a time when Dropbox-enabled text editors were non-existent on iOS. Hell, I don’t think Apple was even calling it “iOS” yet. Simplenote was great because of its sharing functions. You could easily create tags that were associated with email addresses and share notes that could be editing by anyone that the note had been shared with. For example, I could tag something with “kernelpanic” and it would automatically get shared with Gabe Glick. I really don’t use this functionality all that often anymore, but it’s still a great feature. Sharing notes through Dropbox is not quite as easy, you’d have to create a shared folder for each person or group you want to share with, not something you can do from the iOS app.

Simplenote hasn’t gotten as many frequent updates as other iOS Dropbox text editors have gotten recently, but Simplenote is still pretty damn solid. Simplenote doesn’t utilize any fancy Markdown features, but the great thing about writing in Markdown is that you don’t need a lot of fancy features to make it work for you. What I really love about Simplenote is how it interacts with nvALT for OS X. All the tags I use in Simplenote’s iOS app get synced back to nvALT and nvALT interprets those Simplenote tags as OpenMeta tags back on my Macs. Inversely, if I assign an OpenMeta tag on my Mac, Simplenote adds a tag on the server too. And because it’s using OpenMeta, I can use smart searches in Finder or sort through the OpenMeta tags in the excellent Tags for OS X.

I use Simplenote for notes. It’s a notes app. For longer pieces of texts, like this one, I write in Byword or MultiMarkdown Composer, both for OS X.

Byword for iOS

Screen Shot 2012 03 15 at 8 27 25 AM

I’ve liked Byword for Mac for a long time, and to my surprise, an iOS version popped up yesterday. It’s got fewer options than Elements, but more than iA Writer. It syncs with either iCloud or Dropbox and unlike iA Writer, it actually syncs! (iA Writer just gives you Dropbox file access. It doesn’t auto-update docs for you.) Byword has a nice extended keyboard and an understated UI. I just wish the UI was a little higher contrast. The font color doesn’t pop from the background quite enough. Now, I’m waiting to see what Multimarkdown Composer for iOS will look like.

Buy Byword for iOS here.

Interesting Links: August 8, 2011

Who knew anyone in America considered SEGA a big company anymore?

Not all innovations are welcomed.

A new text editor for Mac OS X, that combines native Cocoa with powerful text editing tools.

An interesting idea where an owner of a Starbucks card is sharing the card with the Internet. You can use and charge as you’d like.

Wanna combine your Safari address and search bar?