Paper for iPhone will change the way you take notes

Taking notes on a smartphone has become so much more than just typing text.

How often do you see something that you want to remember and take a photo with your phone’s camera? Or take a screenshot to save a photo you like on Instagram?

You may have a checklist app for going to the grocery store, a notes app for writing down things to remember, and a camera roll that’s cluttered with screenshots of ideas.

That’s the kind of behaviour the founders of FiftyThree, a New York-based tech company, realised was on the rise when it started working on Paper for iPhone.

The free app is essentially about “capturing ideas,” FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg told Tech Insider. You can use it to make everything from lists — it’s great for this — to a visually rich presentation that includes charts and graphs.

You may have heard of the name Paper already. The three-year-old drawing app has managed to garner 15 million downloads on the iPad and inspire a community that shares creations in the app on a social network by FiftyThree called Mix.

As the iPhone’s screen size has increased over the last few of years, it’s become more and more obvious that an app like Paper should not only exist on the iPad. On the iPhone, Paper gives you full access to its drawing and sketching tools from the iPad, but it also does so much more.

During Petschnigg’s demo of the app, I was amazed with how quickly he created a chart for a presentation with his finger, shared it to PowerPoint, and then jumped into another note to annotate a picture to send to his office architect.

How Paper formats text for lists is one of the most impressive features of the app.

Instead of having to dig through an onscreen keyboard to add bold text or indent lines, you just swipe right on text to add a bullet or left to make into a bold header. It’s not an obvious feature, but it feels so natural to use once you know it’s there.

Paper for iPhone supports FiftyThree’s $US50 Pencil stylus, which the company says is the most popular digital stylus on the market right now. Now that Apple has its own stylus with the same name, it remains to be seen whether that will hold true in the coming months.

I tried using FiftyThree’s Pencil with Paper on the iPhone and found it to be a little too clunky, especially because the stylus needs to be manually paired by pressing the tip against a specific part of the screen if you’ve quit the app since using it last time.

For larger Android phones that come with a stylus, that kind of integration seems to make more sense. But FiftyThree doesn’t yet have Paper for Android, though that will come in the future.

Will everyone find Paper for iPhone useful? No. But does it have the potential to be a useful, on-the-go repository of text and visual ideas for a lot of people? Certainly. Check it out in the App Store.

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