Pen.io & Min.us: Single Purpose Apps

So many of today’s apps sport a plethora of features and uses, which often times go completely unused. The wide range of features included in apps aren’t always for each user but rather the wide range of users that have greatly differing workflows or preferences. However, when you only need to accomplish a simple task, what’s a user to do?

Single purpose apps of higher quality seem to be popping up more and more these days and provide great, simple and easy to use solutions to some of the simple tasks some of us need to tackle. Check out our look at Pen.io, a super fast and simple way to publish content online, and Min.us, a drop-dead simple image gallery for sharing quickly.

What do you think of these single purpose apps?

Pen.io: Simple Content Publishing

Overview

Overview

Pen.io is built with a single focus — to be a permanent alternative to blogs. It takes just seconds to create a page and start adding content. The web app is free to use and there isn’t even a sign up page.

Creating a Page

Creating a Page

Creating a Page

Create a page and assign it a password. Whenever you want to edit the page, use the password to gain access to the editor. Simple!

Editing a Page

Editing a Page

To edit page title, page URL or body text, simply click on the respective sections. Changes will be automatically saved. If you are editing the page after a while, point the browser to your page and add /edit to it at the end. Enter the password and start updating content.

Pen.io also lets you publish multiple pages. They have custom tags to accomplish certain functionality and one among them is the “:page” tag. Add this tag after the content and the rest of the entry will be automatically recorded in a new page. While not all HTML elements are supported, most of the common elements are. I tried headers and other elements like bold, italics etc. and they all worked fine.

Thoughts on Usage

Pen.io is a brilliant idea that has been executed flawlessly. On first glance, it might look featureless, but after creating a couple of pages, I found the app to be perfectly designed. Besides, adding functionalities like a WYSIWYG editor among other things will defeat the purpose of having a lean and mean solution. An option to link the pages created to our personal domain would be a killer feature and am so looking forward to it.

Min.us: Image Gallery & Sharing

Min.us

Min.us

Another great example of a single purpose app is Min.us. It’s a drag and drop gallery creator. Although there’s an option to sign up for the service, you really don’t have to. Just drag and drop images into the app and it will build an awesome image gallery on the fly.

Adding an Image

Adding an Image

Images are uploaded very quickly and are arranged horizontally. Use the arrow keys in the keyboard or the mouse to navigate through the images. Images aren’t resized and are accompanied by a detailed timestamp.

Multiple Images in the Gallery

Multiple Images in the Gallery

Options to share the gallery or the images across popular social network sites are readily available. If you plan to comeback and edit the gallery later, there’s a dedicated URL for that too. You have the option to download the images uploaded as a zip file as well.

Final Thoughts

As for single feature apps in general, if they’re as awesome as Pen.io and Min.us, I would go for it. The key is to find the app or vertical that’s bloated and offer a compelling enough alternative. Even if developers can’t find an alternative, they could try and fix the existing bottlenecks. Given that we live in the age of convergence where omnipotent apps and devices rule the roost, a great design and the right feature-set holds the key to success.

Share Your Thoughts!

Can Pen.io replace a full blown blogging platform and Min.us an image gallery? Is there a bright future for the single purpose apps?


Responses

Add Yours
  • I think these single purpose apps also need to deliver a RESTful API as well.

    I think their simple, single purpose UI will only go so far. The value they offer has to be integrated into other platforms.

    They are great tools! I like this kind of simplicity.

  • You should take a look at http://scri.ch/

    Love the blank homepage, draw something, save it, and share the URL!

    Disclaimer: I’m one of the authors.

  • I really like Pen.io, and the interface is definitely conductive to writing long-form text. It’s almost like iA Writer or PlainText on iPad, but runs on any PC. Sometimes simple, single-purpose apps can be useful, and these both are a good example of that. The only problem for developers is finding a business model to support them. Most of us would not be very willing to pay a subscription for a very simple app. That said, a one-time fee like Pinboard.in could be possible; then it’s more like buying an app on the iOS App Store.

    • And of all funny things, Typerighter, a new writing app I just reviewed (http://web.appstorm.net/reviews/office/typerighter-typing-in-your-browser-the-righter-way/), almost exactly fits what I’d said here: a one-time payment for a high quality online writing app. It now has a subscription pro version, but just for normal writing, the basic one-time payment version is perfect, and I’ve been using it this morning on my iPad. It’s quickly become my go- to writing app.

  • They should’ve called it Pen.is. Ahahahahahaha.
    Sorry, couldn’t help it.