A piece of paper to capture ideas on your iPhone

When you hear there's a new writing app for iOS I immediately think of Dropbox integration and support for Markdown. We want to know if it syncs using iCloud and if it will understand our TextExpander shortcuts. Text editors just happen to be a very niche but healthy ecosystem on the App Store and competition is always ready to implement innovations.

Then you get those that believe that being competitive isn't about stacking features. Most users probably use a fraction everything a text editor like Byword or Notesy offer. Some of those long hours of development might even go unnoticed and all that extra fat keeps the app complex and sluggish. 

This is the motivation behind the minimalist Pop — as in Piece of Paper — by Colin Mcfarland. Unlike most text editors available on the App Store, Pop is a note-taking app that aims to be as useful, simple and versatile as, well, a piece of paper. If the picture above doesn't do it for you, strip Apple's own Notes app from the skeuomorphic ornament, search function and Market Felt font. You're left with a white sheet of paper to type on. 

Not used to this level of simplicity I was seriously puzzled when I was asked to review the app. A quick look isn't enough to appreciate the design philosophy that went into it. Instead, I thought it could be a "Hello World" project from a student or perhaps a lazy development studio. I asked about the developer about it, who admitted this could be considered an experimental app.

"Feature number one should always be as few features as needed to perform the primary purpose. In this case, it is to get to writing as quickly as possible"

All that simplicity delivers. Once you tap the icon to launch the app, the next thing you do it start typing. There's no document creation, no plus sign, nothing. It takes a while to let go and forget about all the tagging and filing I do with OmniFocus and The Hit List. 

In Pop, writing simply means writing. There isn't any document title or any export method other than copy and paste. The 'Copy All' command displays a very quick word count — so quick it reinforces the shy personality of the app. The font is a dark grey serif that I cannot identify, which of course, cannot be changed.

Pop isn't a creation tool strictly speaking. It isn't a reminders app or a task manager. You can turn it into a shopping list or an idea inbox if you want. It's really up to you. I could say this is the app Apple didn't want to bundle with iOS and decided to go for Notes instead for the same purpose, ashamed of making something that simple. The goal is to get your ideas written down as quickly as possible without any other thing to consider. Appearances don't matter.

I recommend you go and check out Pop if you've been missing something like this in your workflow. I haven't been able to test it extensively yet, but I can see how this is going to save me some extra taps. The developer is hinting more from the same team in the future following the same philosophy. I can't wait to see more like this!