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It's tough to be wowed by a notes app at this point. From Evernote to Drafts, we've tested them all, and surely you have already developed a system that you're comfortable with. But when three of the industry heavyweights form a sort of developer super-group, it's pretty hard to ignore the fruits of their labor. The brainchild of Dave Wiskus, Brent Simmons and John Gruber, Vesper – named for the specialized martini ordered by James Bond in Ian Fleming's first 007 book – is not just another notes app for your iPhone. With a minimal interface and few features, it aims to change your approach to mobile note taking by stripping away the clutter and focusing on finding your thoughts quickly and effortlessly.
In a way, Vesper is closer to Apple's Notes app than any of the "professional" productivity apps that we've covered. It doesn't offer any groundbreaking text editing or sharing options, and there's no companion Mac or iPad app to sync with. It doesn't even support Gruber's popular Markdown language. But what it does do, it does extremely well.
Vesper is built for speed and organization. There's a certain elegance to its interface – from the choice of font to the classic graphite menu bar – that appears only when you need it. The main window contains a clean, chronological list of your notes separated by spaces, and the first line of each note is bolded, acting as the de facto file name. Tapping on a note expands it with a smooth animation and instantly presents it for editing. A smart system of tags organizes your thoughts without the use of folders; instead, your notes are filtered by the tags you apply to them. Tapping an in-note link opens a handy yet crude built-in browser, and a simple menu offers basic sharing options. Photos can be added, too, though they are limited to one per note.
If there's a knock on Vesper, it's that it doesn't do quite enough. Its $4.99 price tag is more in line with a bargain Mac app than a premium iOS one, but if you're willing to spend a little more than you're used to, you won't be disappointed.
The bottom line. Vesper is the notes app we've been waiting for – we just wish there was a little more to love.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
Fantastic, minimal interface. Excellent tag-based sorting system. Built-in browser.
Few sharing options. No syncing. Single photo limitation can be frustrating.