NEW ANDROID APP : JOTTER PAD X
A minimalist writing app seems like it should be a pretty straightforward concept to execute on, and yet all too frequently they tip over into either a stripped down and feature-poor app or something too complicated for this simple task. While the ultimate goal of such an app should be to isolate you with your writing, that doesn’t mean that the user interface should be lacking or that the text itself can’t be visually appealing. I was intrigued by the Google Play Store listing and promotional video for JotterPad X.
The app is very clean-looking with all-white backgrounds and limited touch targets on each screen. Animations are smooth and simple, with just the slide in from the left for the main navigation bar and zooming into a document when selected. The app mostly uses light colors and takes a page from the Gmail interface for your documents, with a brightly-colored square with the first letter of your document’s title to help you quickly identify your work in folders. You also see the full title below and a preview of the first 50 words or so. Overall there’s very little cruft to the app, and that’s exactly what I like about it. The developers also achieved a very native Android look that makes you feel at home in the app if you are a frequent user of the core Android apps.
There are 7 default options in the “Styles” menu that automatically switch the title and body font, alignment, margins and line spacing. The first four are “Essay,” “Magazine,” “Newspaper” and “Novel” which, despite the names, don’t really dictate your content at all. The last three, which are more purpose-built, and are “Poem,” “Lyrics” and “Screenplay.” As you can see, they do lend themselves specifically to those tasks. Finally, users are able to create a custom template that offers a choice between 11 different fonts for the title and text, 4 alignments, 3 margins and 4 line spacings. The one thing I would like to see here is the ability to save a custom template, but other than that these options cover my needs and avoid endless scrolling lists and getting paralyzed by choice. As you will see throughout the app, the developers view it as a tool for creatives, but regardless of what you are writing you can find a fit.
These are both critical for me. Users can choose from a variety of auto-save intervals which, as someone that has lost more than a few articles and papers due to software crashes, makes for excellent peace of mind. Dropbox integration gives further reassurance that your work won’t be lost. If you’re like me and bounce between a number of devices, this makes continuing working when jumping from hardware to hardware a simple matter.
JotterPad X worked well with my Bluetooth keyboard and supports a number of standard shortcuts. If you are going to get the most out of this app, you’re likely going to want to pull out a full keyboard, so I was very glad to see this work as well as it did.
It offers a number of additional features that make the app more versatile, such as versioning, a night mode that uses white text on a black background and several other features. I’ll definitely continue using JotterPad X as my tool for writing when I’m on the go, because while writing directly in Google Drive has its advantages, I prefer the writing experience in JotterPad X enough that having the extra step of sharing the finished product out is well worth it.