Simplenote started out as a plain text notes app on the iPhone, one that was pretty breathtaking compared to the iOS Notes app and early contenders on the App Store. With its slightly skeuomorphic web app and fast sync with native apps on other platforms like the popular Notational Velocity and its forks, it became the notes app of choice for many of us. Yet, it started to grow a tad long in the tooth. Its parent company, Simperium, used Simplenote’s sync technology to help other developers sync data from their apps, and that took the focus away from the less profitable notes app.
Then early this year, Automattic — WordPress.com’s parent company — announced that they’d bought out Simperium and planned to make Simplenote better than ever. Their first investment into the app was giving it the domain name it deserved — Simplenote.com — but the app updates took a bit longer. But they were worth the wait. This fall’s brought a brand-new Simplenote for Mac app that was the first app to use the iOS 7 flat design on the Mac, as well as a redesigned Simplenote for iOS and Android with a similar beautifully clean UI.
And now, that same new design has finally reached Simplenote’s web app. Just head over to app.simplenote.com, login with your account, and you’ll see the same beautifully clean UI with your notes ready to search, view, and edit right in the cloud.
There’s little new in the new Simplenote, other than the new design. Everything else works the very same as before: you can search through your notes, share notes by adding your collaborator’s email address as a tag, format notes with Markdown, and even publish them online (though that seems to not be working just yet). It’s once again the nicest plain text notes app in the cloud. And, its new distinctive flat UI makes it look the most like an iOS 7 app on the web than anything else we’ve used other than the new iCloud web apps. It’s nice, clean, and still works great. And with the new apps, you can use Simplenote everywhere without needing 3rd party apps: on the web, iOS, Android, and the Mac.
The original plain text notes app is back and better than ever, and we couldn’t be happier. Be sure to try it out!
There’s so many new focused writing apps for the web this year, it’s hard to keep track of them all. But they almost all have one thing in common: they require you to use Markdown for formatting. You could just write in plain text, but if you want italics or bold text, or just want to add a list or a link, you’ll have to use Markdown. It’s not hard to use, per se, but not everyone loves typing extra characters for formatting. That’s why there’s still the tried and true rich text formatting like you’d see in Word, Pages, and even the Gmail editor. It’s just not something most focused writing apps use these days.
If you love rich text editing, and still love focused writing apps without all the clutter and nonsense, you’re in for a treat. The brand-new drft is just what you’ve been waiting for, and we’ve got exclusive invites for our readers. (more…)
It’s US Thanksgiving today, the day we set aside to eat turkey, play (or, more likely, watch) American football, and hopefully spend at least a few minutes of reflection about what we’re thankful for from the past year. And so, why not think about the web apps you’re most thankful for at the same time? They’ve changed how you worked, freed you from legacy apps, made you more productive, and likely saved you money. That’s a lot to be thankful for.
And it’s been a great year for web apps, especially as a writer, with so many new writing web apps coming out. It’d still be hard for me to pick my favorite, but I must say that I’m very grateful for Draft, Editorially, and Penflip, all three of which have already proved useful in my work this year. Draft especially has been rather phenomenal at getting so many new features over time, which has been so fun to see — and helpful as a user. Penflip, the newest of the bunch, is going to be very interesting to watch over the coming months.
That’s far from all of the new web apps this year — it’s hard to think of the world of web apps in 2013 without thinking of Typeform, Apple’s new iWork for iCloud apps and the redesigned core iCloud apps, and more. But that’s for later, when we’ll soon be rounding up the best apps of 2013 for your reading pleasure.
So today, we’d love to hear what brand new web apps you’re thankful for in 2013. Tell us why you love the app, and how you use it – and it just might end up being featured in our best of 2013 roundup.
And while we’re taking about being thankful, hey: thank you for being part of our community!
A lot of what we all do with our computers these days is online. A very large proportion of us forego the comfort of an email client and rely instead on a web based mail service such as Gmail or outlook.com. In recent years there has been a big push from a lot of big name companies — the likes of Google, Adobe and Microsoft — to encourage their customers to work increasingly in the cloud.
It is likely that the widespread use of webmail has helped to make the idea of breaking away from the confines of desktop software, but the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets can probably also claim some responsibility. The ability to work on the move on a smaller-screened device is obviously very liberating, but there are new considerations to keep in mind. It is all well and good being able to work away from the desktop, but there will probably come a time when you want to work on a regular computer rather than a portable device. Of course, you can plug your phone or tablet into your computer and copy files back and forth as required… but this is too much like hard work!
Collaborative writing has been one of the many things the web was supposed to simplify, and yet it’s still as broken as it’s ever been. Live co-editing like Google Docs offers only works for a very few niche scenarios, and newer tools like Draft and Editorially only work great for one writer and one editor giving feedback on a finished work. And the old style of emailing documents back and forth — or the slightly updated version of saving them to a shared Dropbox — is still far from ideal.
There’s one tech tool that’s seemed promising recently, though: git. The geeky version control system used most famously by GitHub is designed to let software developers collaborate on code, and is the very reason people around the globe can contribute to open source projects. Code is just text, of course, so earlier this year two dozen mathematicians wrote The HoTT Book collaboratively using GitHub. That was quite an undertaking, both for its unprecedented collaboration and for using git for writing even when it wasn’t exactly designed for it.
But what if GitHub was reinvented around writing? That’s what Penflip, a new git-powered writing app, aims to find out.
There once was a time when I followed gaming with verve and passion, soaking up every out-of-ten score in the Official Playstation Magazine, and cursing Nintendo for somehow making the latest Mario Kart game even more irritating than the last. But time has passed, and I no longer have my finger quite on the pulse.
However, I still do hear about most of the latest releases, one way or another, and I pay special attention to game launches with something interesting, unusual, or notable about them. A recent example was the launch of Zoo Tycoon, of which I learned thanks to my AppStorm colleague, Marius Masalar, and his fine taste in tweeting.
Whilst the sight of yet another Zoo Tycoon game was not terribly striking, the initiatives that Microsoft has taken, alongside the production of the game, are.
Our sponsor this week, Xehon, is a new app for keeping up with almost everything in your digital life in a totally new way. It’s got an incredibly basic interface that lets you add in the modules you want to turn it into your own web app. You can make your own file storage system, design basic graphics and flowcharts, organize pictures, write online documents in specific sections that can be moved around as you want, keep track of your appointments on the calendar, and even blog or run a forum, all from one Xehon account.
You’ll be able to work on any web browser, or natively on your Mac or PC with its Adobe Air-powered app. You can even easily use Xehon from your Android phone thanks to its free app in the Google Play store. And you can try it for free, then pay just for the amount of data storage that you use in the app.
Xehon is a bare-bones attempt to rethink how a number of the most popular web apps should work, and it’ll be exciting to see the new modules they add to the app going forward.
I’m a huge Dropbox junkie. I’ve got 19 GB of free space that I’ve managed to secure over the years (being a student and inviting friends used to help, especially before Dropbox really exploded over the past few years). But cloud storage is tricky, and I’m the paranoid type who believes you should never rely on only one storage solution — even if it is “in the cloud.”
I was intrigued when I heard about another cloud-solution that claimed to offer a few advantages to the Dropbox setup. It’s called NTI MiST. NTI has been in the software game for a long time, and have seen tremendous success in the industry. Read on to find out whether MiST continues to improve on their sterling reputation, or if it can replace or work alongside Dropbox.