Just Type: A New Plain Text Note Taker to Replace Simplenote?

All right all you note taking app aficionados, there’s a new plain text note taker on the block: Just Type. You may be familiar with its iOS counterpart, which has been out for a while, but this popular iOS note taker just recently hit the Mac App Store.

This app is definitely worth a look, but is it worth switching to? Can it replace Simplenote? Read on to find out.

Interface and Feel

If you have ever used the iOS version of Just Type, the Mac interface will make you feel right at home. The UI is almost identical. In terms of how the interface works, the app is similar to many other note taking apps like the native Notes app and Justnotes in that it provides a pane on the left that displays all your notes and the editor on the right.

A look at Just Type's interface.

A look at Just Type’s interface.

Rather than organizing the notes in folders or applying tags to notes, in Just Type, you can assign your notes a color and then use colors to filter certain notes. There are seven colors to choose from, which means you are limited to seven filters. I like the idea of assigning colors to notes, and the colors are eye catching, but it seems like a better implementation would be to allow users to create filters, name them, and assign a color to them. Limiting and predetermining the number of filters just seems, well, limiting.

A look at Just Type's filtering option

A look at Just Type’s filtering option

Important notes can also be starred for quick access.

Notes can also be opened in separate windows. This works just like the native Notes app, you can open as many notes in separate windows as you want. Full screen mode is also supported, but notes in there own, separate window cannot be viewed / edited in full screen. All in all, the interface is similar to the Native Notes app, but won’t slap you in the face with skeuomorphism.

In full screen mode, notes can still be opened in separate windows.

In full screen mode, notes can still be opened in separate windows.

Any note can be viewed in a separate window.

Any note can be viewed in a separate window.

Features

Note taking apps need to have sync capability these days in order to be competitive. Most people want to be able to view their notes on the go. Just Type syncs with the iOS version using iCloud, and I never had any trouble syncing. Thankfully, Just Type supports import and export of plain text files, so if you currently use plain text for your notes, getting them into Just Type is a cinch.

The iPad UI looks very similar to the Mac UI.

If you find yourself often sharing notes, Just Type probably has the sharing option to fit your needs: email, message, Twitter, Facebook, and email as attachment.

The sharing options for Just Type.

The sharing options for Just Type.

Just Type also comes with other useful features including:

  • In app searching of notes.
  • Sorting of note lists by alphabetical order and date modified.
  • Creating back ups of notes.
  • Automatic list creation.
  • Separate fonts for each note (unlike some plain text note takers where changing the font in one note changes the font for all notes).

What it Lacks

Simplenote is currently the plain text note taking leader and sports several clients for the Mac including Justnotes, Nvalt, and Metanota. Existing Simplenote users might find a couple of features missing from Just Type. First there is no markdown support, this will be a deal breaker for many. Second there is no web interface, so reaching your notes online is not an option. Third, Simplenote users who like tagging their notes might not be impressed with Just Type’s color filtering system. And finally, Just Type does not offer any services to quickly add text as a note (NValt offers this and there are also Chrome extensions for Simplenote that allow for quickly adding notes to Simplenote).

Conclusion

Just Type is a very solid note taking app for a 1.0 release. I never experienced a crash and sync was solid. Plus the aesthetics of the app are very pleasing. The only problem with Just Type is that it enters a crowded category — there are plenty of note apps that do similar things. Still, Just Type does offer some unique features and a unique interface that will definitely sway some users.


Summary

A solid plain text notes app that syncs with iOS versions via iCloud and offers a unique UI.

8
  • nemesit

    One word “nvALT”

  • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

    I use the Catch.com service. The iPhone and iPad apps are free and the service is free. It’s always syncing and easy to use. I don’t see why pay for this app if I am getting more and better for free.

    • Kien Nguyen

      You are right.

    • http://palobo.tumblr.com Pedro Lobo

      Hmm, interesting. I see catch.com more as a Evernote or Sprinpad type service, not really the same. I can use Evernote, Springpad and Catch to store my plaintext notes and not have to pay for either, but it’s not really the same service.

      This app, is more like NVAlt, Just Notes etc, that allow me to point it to a folder full of text files. That’s what make these apps great. I can then use whichever app I prefer on the iOS device to carry on working.

      There are times when Byword/iA Writer will be the weapon of choice, other times it will be Writing Kit/Write Up. There’s also the new Write which seems promising.

      What I’m trying to say here is that for me, plain text (which is the focus of Just Type) doesn’t live in apps such as Evernote or Catch.

      • Reid Leamaster

        I agree that Just Type is more comparable to Just Notes and other plain text note takers.

        A quick clarification. While the iOS version of Just Type can point to a dropbox folder of plain text files, the Mac version doesn’t have this functionality. Right now it only syncs via iCloud with the iOS version of Just Type. Just Type does import and export plain text files.

        • http://palobo.tumblr.com Pedro Lobo

          Ahh, thanks for the clarification Reid. In that case (at least for me) the utility of Just Type is more limited. iCloud sync is great, but as is I wouldn’t want to lock my notes into one app. I love the freedom that comes with having them in Dropbox. Use whichever app suits my needs and mood. In fact, it’s the only way I could possibly test/try so many different writing apps.

  • AK

    No because it’s iOnly.

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