Good apps like to show off their many features. Great apps get out of the way and let you do what you came to do. And that’s what Simplenote has always been about. It has been the best note-taking app on the Web, Windows, Mac or iOS, and new owners Automattic (the same company behind WordPress) has now brought this same simplicity to Android for free.
It has been three years since Simplenote first released and while there were official apps for online and iOS, other platforms weren’t as lucky. On Android, third-party apps like NotationalAcceleration, Flick Note and Glance Note did a decent job of syncing with Simplenote, but it wasn’t quite the same seamless experience.
Well, all that changes with Simplenote for Android. Let’s dive right in…
Keep It Simple, Stupid
When on Windows, you probably use Notepad extensively to jot down notes or even as a clipboard. On Android, that’s what Simplenote can be. It’s the perfect app to just take notes, journal your thoughts, or even get some good writing done.
Local & Sync
You can use Simplenote locally, without creating an account. This stores all your notes on your Android device itself without syncing it to the server and thus making it available on any other device. However, I’d suggest you make an account because Simplenote’s strength is its syncing and sharing.
You can share any note you create, via any medium on Android. I tried sharing a note via email, Whatsapp and text message and each time, it came through perfectly. You can even turn any note into a link to share with the public at large (as long as you took the time to open a Simplenote account.).
Perhaps the best part of Simplenote is its robust search, which not only searches the headers but through the full text of each note. This data is indexed, so your search will update results in real-time as you type.
The first line of each note is what will be used as the header to identify the note, so make it a good one. Think of this as the note’s ‘name’. Simplenote doesn’t have rich text formatting tools for compositions, nor does it include bullet points or strikethroughs to work as a to-do list. But nonetheless, you can use it for either task and get the job done (remember, it also has sharing baked in). Like I said, think of it as Notepad on your Android.
Tags are a way for you to easily group notes and find them later. It’s fairly straightforward: write a word and hit Space to create a tag. Tags can also be used as a shortcut to share a note with a friend, by adding their email address as a tag.
The main list view lets you browse through the tags at any time and tap one to show all notes tagged with it. The menu options also let you edit tags to change their name or delete them entirely. This is also a good place to see how many times a tag is used through your notes.
Next to the tag section of a note, you will find a radio button that can be used to pin a note to the top of the main list of notes.
The main screen of Simplenote is a straightforward list of all the notes you have saved. There are two views for this list: condensed (just the headers) and normal (headers as well as the first few lines of text). You can sort the list by modification date, creation date, or alphabetically.
There are two things I missed on Simplenote and I hope the devs will incorporate them in updates. First is the ability to create bullets or check-boxes, which would go a long way towards making the app more efficient as a to-do list. And second, I wish there was a widget so that I could keep Simplenote open on a homescreen to use quickly.
Users of phones with a stylus will also be disheartened to know that Simplenote does not recognise stylus input, so you will have to rely on a different app like Supernote for handwritten notes.
Better Than The Rest
There are plenty of note-taking apps on Android — some of them even use Simplenote as a backend — but Automattic’s offering is as good as it gets. It’s got a lovely design and is fluid to use. And since this is a native app by the original makers, the transitions between Web, iOS and Android feels more seamless than using a third-party app like Flick Notes.
So will you be downloading Simplenote to your Android device? How did you find it? If not, which note-taking app do you use and why do you think it’s better than Simplenote?
Image: Stephen Dann