On Paper

Quite simply, Paper is the best app I’ve seen in a long time.1 It just turned my iPad from a device I leave at home for email, browsing and playing games to a business tool I want to have with me all the time.

Paper for iPad

Over the last six months I’ve been using paper sketches more and more to capture and communicate ideas; it’s been working really well. What hasn’t been working well is how I integrate these into my digital workflow.2 I’m hoping that Paper will be my answer.

For as good as Paper is now, there are still some pretty obvious areas in which it can expand – here’s a short list of things I’d dearly love to see.

  1. Re-ordering of books – This is going to become more and more important to me over time. I’ll want my “active” books towards the front, etc. along with my “random ideas” book. Related: the ability to re-order pages within a book.
  2. Export page to photo roll – Badly needed. I have a variety of tools that integrate with the photo roll, this is an easy stop-gap to allow other apps/services to interact with the content I create in Paper.
  3. Mirror books to Dropbox – Allow me to specify a folder in Dropbox to use as my “Paper” folder, then create folders within that for each book and save a flattened export of each page into the appropriate book folders. I’m going to need my sketches on my laptop too. A similar approach could store the images in Evernote as well.
  4. Portrait orientation support – Some ideas are vertical.
  5. Setting for screen orientation when locked – This is a bit of a nit pick, but I prefer having the home button on my right since I’m right handed. When I have it on the left (in landscape mode), I inadvertently hit it with my left thumb while holding the iPad. I know it rotates when the screen orientation isn’t locked, but I use my iPad with the screen orientation locked much of the time.
  6. iCloud sync – Lower priority, but even if it was just iPad to iPad sync I could see getting a second iPad to have at work just for Paper and as a test device.

Most of these are pretty obvious requests, so I’m sure the smart folks at FiftyThree are already considering them in one form or another. I’m really excited to have a really good digital notebook and can’t wait to see what comes in future releases.

I also love the way they decided to sell the app. You can download and use the app for free with no limitations on the number of books, pages, etc. you create. Instead, you have in-app purchases for different drawing tools (with the ability to test out each tool before you purchase). This is by far the best :scare: trial :/scare: experience I’ve had on an iOS app and I bought all but one of the brushes within 5 minutes of launching the app for the first time.

I have a Pogo sketch stylus that I got a few years ago to use with my iPad. I’ve never really liked it, and the results with Paper are “just OK”. It looks like they are recommending the Wacom Bamboo stylus, so Amazon will be delivering one of those to me this week. I’m optimistic that this will make a noticeable difference in consistency of the stylus performance. :fingerscrossed:

  1. It’s up there with Reeder, TweetBot and Path for elegant and functional iOS interfaces. 
  2. I take a photo of the notebook page with my iPhone, which then leverages Photo Stream and eventually ends up in an iPhoto album, but it’s not ideal.