Three people you may have heard of—writer John Gruber, developer Brent Simmons, and designer Dave Wiskus--have joined forces to create Q Branch, an app development company whose first product is a $5 iPhone app called Vesper. The app, released Thursday, aims to help "collect your thoughts."
Yes, it's Yet Another iPhone Notes App. But it's one that's meticulously and tastefully designed—not surprising, coming from the principals of Q Branch. I've spent the past few weeks beta-testing the app, and in advance of the release I also talked to Gruber, Simmons, and Wiskus (all of whom have written for Macworld in the past) about what went into building it.
A notebook in your iPhone
There's no shortage of notebook and reminder apps on iOS. I've used many of them, including Apple's own Notes, Evernote, and a vast collection of text editors. And yet none of them has stuck for any length of time. The Q Branch group has had the same experience.
"I'd been waiting for [a note-taking app] I liked and wanted to use," Simmons said. "That one just hadn't appeared. There are good ones, for sure—but none that fit how I think and none that feel the way Vesper feels."
I certainly can't guarantee that I'll stick with Vesper for the long haul, but I've been using it quite a lot for the past few weeks. The app's core is a simple list of notes. Each note has a title, displayed in bold, with the first couple of lines displayed below it. Tap and hold to "pick up" a note and re-order the list in any way you like.
Tapping on a note enters the note editor. You can enter in as much text as you'd like, as well as attach a single image, which you can take directly from within Vesper or insert from your Camera Roll. Notes can be mailed, sent via message, or copied to the clipboard—there's no syncing with other devices or any cloud-based sync services. Notes are organized via tags. Tap on the gray Tag button at the bottom of the note to add a tag, and a pretty orange pop-up will appear as you type, suggesting tags you've already entered.
From the list view, you can tap the "hamburger" icon in the top left of the screen or just swipe from the left edge in order to display a filter list, which lets you limit the notes being displayed to those that contain a particular tag. There's also an Archive list, where you can send old notes with a swipe.
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