Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
There are two schools of thought when it comes to iOS apps: textured, skeuomorphic designs that try (often too hard) to create a level of real-world familiarity for the user, or clean, sleek interfaces with modern flourishes and a heavy emphasis on functionality.
Paper by FiftyThree is iPad minimalism at its finest. With a compete emphasis on the digital experience, Paper pays little attention to mimicking its real-world inspiration, resulting in a slick approach that puts the focus where it should be – on the art you create. Any number of apps purport to turn your iPad into a writing journal, but even the best of the bunch tend to dilute the experience by adding unnecessary functionality. What FiftyThree does is strip down the journal concept down to its most essential components: pen and paper.
That said, there's nothing particularly innovative about Paper. Tapping one of the customizable notebook covers opens it just enough to see what's inside; pages are fanned for easy viewing, and anything written is rendered quickly and precisely. It's like flipping through the pages of an actual journal, but it feels like a natural, new experience on the iPad.
Tapping a page spread expands it to fill the screen, but you won't find an iBooks-like shadow to imitate the middle fold. Paper keeps things clean – so clean, in fact, that there isn't a single element to hold your gaze. Unless a project has already been started, the white-but-not-too-white canvas is completely blank. I appreciated the emphasis on possibility here, but would have liked an option for lined paper. A quick pinch returns to the journal list, where work can be shared with friends or saved to your photo library.
Designed exclusively for landscape mode, Paper hides its tools and color palette at the bottom of the screen (swiping up from the bezel reveals it). At first blush, the drawing options seem limited, with just five pens (four of which cost $1.99 each), nine colors, and an eraser. However, the instruments – labeled by function: draw, sketch, write, outline and color – complement each other perfectly. Paper's simplicity is its greatest strength, and the specified toolset encourages blending of colors and styles from a creative standpoint.
Each pen has a unique tip that practically feels tactile. Retina graphics and smooth motions keep every stroke fluid and organic, and the color-pressure balance feels pure and refined. The only thing unintuitive about Paper is its undo command, which is an awkward and imprecise two-finger counterclockwise gesture.
The bottom line. Paper doesn't reinvent how we write or sketch – or even what we do them on – but it modernizes such efforts for the iPad era with mostly brilliant results.
iPad running iOS 4.3 or later
Exquisite, uncluttered interface. Smooth, Retina-quality drawing. Lifelike pens and brushes.
Numerous in-app purchases. Clunky undo gesture. No portrait support or paper options.