Greetings techies, it’s that time of the week again! Today’s App Of The Week is Paper. As always, I wouldn’t recommend an app that I didn’t use myself.

Good news. Although the app Paper by the company FiftyThree has been out on the iPad for several years now, it was finally released on the iPhone.

Paper Features

  • Swipe-to-style Notes – swipe on text to quickly create and rearrange checklists and headers.
  • Photo Spotlights – tap on photos to instantly spotlight a detail, or draw custom areas. Write notes and draw on photos.
  • Powerful Tools – the drawing tools on the iPad app are of course available on the iPhone app.

Georg Petschnigg tells Wired how the Paper iPhone app came about. “Man, that would be a really nice form factor for this app,” he says, referring to a Galaxy Note 5 on the table. “I wish I could just…wave the magic hand” and move the app from the iPhone 6 to the Note 5.

We’ve always been about capturing ideas”, Petschnigg says. The team at FiftyThree looked at the different ways people interacted with their smartphones, and two things immediately became apparent: that people spend a lot of time writing notes to themselves, and many of those notes were images. Paper for iPhone is simple. Everywhere in the app, there’s a “+” icon at the bottom of the screen, to create a new note. You can add images and sketches with Paper’s set of tools, like the brush, pencil and pen. If you don’t need a visual medium, you can just start writing.

Paper IMG 2

Making to-do lists is very simple. Write a sentence, then swipe on the sentence to create a circular radio button on the left. The most important thing about Paper is that is feels organic. Instead of using some kind of tree hierarchy or notebook-like analogy, Paper uses “Spaces”. You can think of Spaces as “neatly-stacked piles of paper strewn all over your desk, each one endlessly sortable and available for you to flip through.” While that may seem counterintuitive, it’s the beginning of a new trend in User Interface design, where users have more control over how their data is organized to feel more intuitive.

The human brain relies on space – the Z axis – as a way to organize information, both abstract and physical. Want a quick way to remember something that you need to bring to work? Put the object on your shoes so it will be impossible to forget. It’s easy to forget a note, file or car keys, but if you put them near or on top of an object that you never forget – in this case shoes – it’s easy to remember. Now the next issue is translating this into the digital world.

So with Paper for iPhone, there are no more journals, notebooks, etc. There are only loose spaces of notes that you can organize and change at will in a way that feels most intuitive to you. You can move notes around within and between spaces, and even export entire spaces to a PowerPoint presentation, for example. “This is much more like your mobile wall of stickies,” Petschnigg says.

The good news is that Paper might eventually come to Android. As Wired points out in their article, “And there’s that Android thing – Petschnigg wants desperately to develop for the platform, he just needs the right developers to do it.”

Paper is completely free, currently on iPad and iPhone, with in-app purchases for the brush and pen tools. Like iPad, you can use FiftyThree’s special Pencil stylus for the iPhone app. (not to be confused with Apple Pencil).

About the author

Andrew Orr

Andrew Orr is a young man who loves gadgets, photography and cats. You can find him most places under the username @orrandrew91.