A Place for Pop

I’ve been dissatisfied with notes on my iPhone lately.

As an iPhone user, I feel obligated to have a brilliant note-taking system that syncs with my iPad and Mac. I used Simplenote for a long time before switching to Notesy. Simplenote requires a yearly subscription for full functionality, while Notesy does not. I also like Notesy’s Markdown support and customizability. Still, something wasn’t quite right.

Most recently, I had Drafts on my home screen for a couple of weeks. It’s a robust app with plenty of features for exporting and manipulating text. I’ve transferred a few of my notes from Notesy to Drafts, but I never seem to find myself wanting to open the app. Maybe I just don’t want to tap on its less-than-pretty icon.

Despite their intended usage, note-taking apps are often quite complex. They have folders, and search, and fonts, and sync, and a host of other wonderful features.

But these features can also feel burdensome. You have to wait for the app to open. You have to wait for your notes to sync (and risk encountering a gut-wrenching sync conflict). You have to navigate back and forth between notes. There’s friction. Not a lot, but it’s there.

Which brings me to Pop.

I mentioned Pop in my Ubiquitous Capture Roundup. Pop’s main feature is its lack of features. Open, read/write, close. Copy and paste if you so desire.

I shouldn’t like Pop. Like Shadoe Huard, I didn’t intend to use it. It doesn’t let me write in Markdown. Though universal, it doesn’t sync with its iPad version. It doesn’t have Dropbox support. I can’t hook it up with Notational Velocity. It doesn’t even let me create notes! It’s just a white space with a cursor. An iOS enigma.

But for some reason, it feels really good.

I downloaded Pop mostly out of support for Patrick Rhone’s new company, Minimal Tools, and to see the app’s featurelessness for myself. (It’s true; there aren’t any.) I put it on my second page of apps.

Then, by chance, I had a reason to use it. My mom told me what she wanted for Mother’s Day. I opened Pop, jotted it down, and closed the app in seconds. No watching the app load. No waiting to sync. No searching for my “Gift Ideas” note.

Pop is making me think that — just maybe — this is all I need. As I browse through my handful of notes in Notesy, I see that none of them have been updated in at least a month, nor can I remember consulting any of them. Maybe a digital scrap of paper is all I need.

Now, there are some notes that I do update monthly, and Pop doesn’t really meet this need. But I believe that’s by design.

As Patrick says, “Pop is step one.” In the case of my mom’s Mother’s Day present, I wrote it in Pop and will delete it after I buy it. If I come up with a brilliant idea, I can capture it quickly, and then Pop will force me to process it later on, at the very least out of my compulsion to keep the app clean and beautiful.

I’m not sure how my relationship with Pop will progress, but for now, it’s taken up residence on my home screen. And it feels good. My iPhone’s home screen is populated with apps that fulfill my foremost needs: to communicate, to read, to listen, to write. I’m going to let Pop try its hand at the writing chair, or perhaps the “capture” chair would be more appropriate.

Pop feels like an oasis for ideas. Once captured, my thoughts reside in Pop, patient and pristine, until I decide what to do with them. What more do I need?

You can get Pop for $0.99 on the App Store.

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