You know the old William Gibson line that cyberspace is the place where telephone conversations happen? Not in the hardware at either end, but in the "space between"? Computing has moved there too.
Work used to happen on a device and then was transferred to other devices, either manually (floppies, email) or later automatically (sync, dropbox). Thanks to the web, mobile devices and lots of data, that's changed: Google Apps led the way, but Evernote etc all let you do your work in the space between devices.
Nowadays, putting the device first over the data (or ignoring other devices entirely, like this app does) is like putting the phone first over the call: beautiful, elegant hardware, refined way to dial, custom typeface for the numbers ... but you can't call anyone with it.
Apple in particular makes this mistake repeatedly. Photostream is device-first, so you have to work out what the hell is where and work out what you want to download to which machine. iTunes Match is device-first, so you're forever downloading and deleting tracks to make space on a particular device. Me.com tries to keep the sync truth on one of your devices, so conflicts abound. Notifications appear on all devices and often have to be dismissed individually on each of them. They see the world through the device first.
I suppose it's obvious why it happens -- they're a hardware company, and they grew up in a pre-networked world -- but I think misunderstanding this is one key reason they're seen as "bad at services" in comparison to Google, which is instinctively and entirely in "the space between devices".
As for this app, why would I ever want to be trapped in a single place again? They might as well have made it for an SE/30.
Also as soon as you offer sync you need to have a conflict resolution approach and there is no way to always resolve in a clean way without user intervention.
Here's an overview: https://github.com/couchbase/mobile
The iOS embedded sync database: https://github.com/couchbase/couchbase-lite-ios
Embedded sync database for Android: https://github.com/couchbase/couchbase-lite-android
It is designed to sync JSON documents either to the cloud, or from device to device. Everything is open source, so you can run it wherever you want.
Our conflict detection and management works by detecting when two users modify the same document, and keeping both versions around. It's up to the application to merge them (or discard one). More about the protocol here: https://github.com/couchbase/couchbase-lite-ios/wiki/Replica...
1) throw user data away.
2) ask the user a question about how to resolve the conflict
3) save both copies and leave the user to figure out which one they actually want.
As a developer I'm not yet comfortable with any of these approaches for casual user scenarios although option 2 or 3 is probably right in many more serious/professional set ups. I've gone with email as my transfer mechanism which also allows sending to other users and to be used as a backup although I do keep looking at sync systems and solutions.
I found this a good write up of the potential complications even for a simple list app like mine.
It seems HN doesn't like a comment ending with a "/" in a link.
Yes you're trapped, but think of it as being stuck on a desert island happily, rather than being jailed unwillingly.
Edit: I'll rephrase singular as singular device with an Apple provided operating system.
This isn't something you can pretend is for a minority anymore. It's like making a POP3 client and saying "IMAP is for power users".
I have a feeling that's the reasoning, more than anything else. It removes a piece of complexity with a very specific, conscious trade-off.
That said, I use syncing to Dropbox religiously with my notes app, so that's a dealbreaker for me.
But when they record a note on their phone and later want to recall it for a bit of typing at their laptop or iPad...
I honestly want to find something new that the app does that is supposed to change my workflow, but there is just nothing. A cynical part of me feels like this exists (especially with the $5 price tag) just to ride the fame coattails of Gruber+Simmons+Wiskus.
I don't condemn them for taking the opportunity of their current notoriety. I'm coming off of week 4 of an app launch that completely failed to garner any reviews or growth, so it does really hurt to see reviews of this app that are nearly 4,000 words long: http://www.macstories.net/reviews/vesper-review-collect-your...
- it is visually novel or has some cute gimmick
- there is some story about the people behind the app (already have an audience)
- there is some story/narrative that is only tangentially related to the actual quality of the app
- a massive game changer (incremental improvements aren't going to cut it). Massive game changers dont happen often, and your app most likely isnt one even if it has features that other apps dont.
I've decided to forgo spending much time trying to get major blog/tech site coverage for my apps. It's a wash now - better to build your own audience and market in other ways.
Feel free to email me if you wish to discuss this: krishna @ logiccolony dot com
I'll try to give you a scaled perspective:
1. Announce in your site that you are going to give a speech.
2. Obama announces that he is going to give a speech.
There is high probability that your speech is going to be more interesting, entertaining and informing. However, your viewers are going to be close to 0, and Obama is watched by the entire world and covered by major medias.
(Where by "or" I mean "no").
For me, inability to coexist with Notational Velocity is a dealbreaker.
Similarly, an iOS notes app that doesn't have websync just seems unhelpful for me. The only time I need to record a piece of data and I don't have access to my laptop/paper are usually when I need to remember something for later: and that "later" involves me using my laptop.
(Advantage of note apps vs. note books: the former lends themselves much more to iteration.)
Now there may be something to why they choose a brand-name notepad instead of a cheaper alternative, but I don't think this analogy works for comparing software features of apps on phones.
Maybe a better example might be somebody choosing a pocket knife that was not a "swiss army" pocket knife. The nail file doesn't really get in your way, but if you don't want it, why have it?
This is app.net all over again.
Evernote, Springpad, Simplenote, and even Google Keep for iOS (when it is finally release) have syncing from the get go.
i predict that features will not improve.
i predict that another app will be released,
at a similar price-point, with more features.
and then another one after that. and another.
in other words, i predict a well-executed plan
to extract as much cash as possible from fans.
nothing wrong with that. if you can get away with it.
What would be especially nice would be if iOS Vesper was a satellite of a desktop Vesper, so that my photos and location information would automatically get pulled into my notes.
It's a journal app, but it has the same features as Vesper, but with sync, a desktop app, and a calendar view of your posts. In my eyes it also has a very similar interface.
Linux, Blackberry, Firefox OS, I would be happy developing for if they had worthwhile market share.
 Note that this isn't an absolute and if the market conditions dictated it I would swallow this preference and live work with them but while there is a choice I would prefer not to. If I had a mega-hit on iOS I may port it to cash in, while I put non-zero dollar value on avoiding Google/MS it isn't unlimited either.
But as I said its a preference rather than a hard black and white line for me, major corporations have their own interests at heart not customers/users where they conflict.
I dont write native apps, so I dont know if push came to shove if I would avoid writing apps for iOS or not.
Yes the services are only available on their hardware but hardware choice is far from the biggest issue with this sort of freedom, ability to leave the supplier entirely is the power I want and precisely because they offer less (or at least I use less) than the full Google ecosystem I have a lower barrier to exit.
I use iCloud only with some apps that support it and the photostream functionality but I have all my photos offline too. I don't buy DRMed media so could transfer my music elsewhere. I don't use Apple or Google mail services, but pay for a separate IMAP provider. I have some documents in Pages but they could be exported as a different format and there doesn't seem to be difference in lock in to Word or even Google Docs.
Regarding open vs. closed I prefer open too. I like open source and have a Linux server. However I don't see Google as that much more open than Apple. Both release large amounts of Open Source software (LLVM, Webkit if you struggle to think of Apple examples) but only in areas where it benefits them. Open has reduced benefits where a single corporate interest has full control of the direction of the project.
This might be why we differ. To me it's a huge issue - that I can continue to buy from a range of hardware manufacturers, and install my own OS and software. My computers all have Linux + Windows 8, and my phones have always had custom ROMs on there. I get that not everyone needs that, but Apple stopping me from installing OS X on my laptop, which is perfectly capable of running it, just strikes me as "evil".
If you go out of your way to avoid Apple services that lock you in, then I suppose that you could be reasonably free to exit. But on an iOS device you can't get out of using default apps like Apple Maps, and services like FaceTime and iMessage encourage people to connect with their family and friends through a system which is almost unique in only working on one manufacturer's hardware/OS (the only other example is BBM, which I also avoid).
> I don't see Google as that much more open than Apple
I see them as much more open than Apple, probably because it is in their best interest to be. Google's continuing existence is based on people's ability to use their services from any platform. They are trying to make hardware and operating systems less relevant by moving everything onto the internet. In order to do this, they need everything to be interoperable, and they do that through openness. Apple's business on the other hand is about getting people into their walled garden and keeping them there. Microsoft did that to an extent with trying to lock everyone into Windows, but in my view Apple are a million times worse, as they are trying to lock people into their OS and their hardware - and in many cases their software as well (eg. Maps and other default applications).
With respect to Android, you can use it without using a single Google service.
Perhaps the answer to your question is inside your question itself.
More money possibly, but its hard to imagine it is not worth the cost of porting these types of apps - and that's what is relevant. Unless it is an ideological thing.
Do you choose your own activities, necessarily not choosing others, out of spite?
His prior partner in spirit, Arment, however, has only entrenched more than ever in his bias.
However besides the ability to send an email or text, the data appears to only stay the app. There is no DropBox or other syncing options. So it will not replace SimpleNote/nvAlt for me.
Interesting, I expected this to support Markdown. But I do like the simple and automated formatting that is provided.
I think I get it - Evernote has always been a bit of a mess IMHO and while it's the best of what existed, it seemed overly complicated and cluttered. This appears to be a measured (and flat) response to that.
Does look nice, though, I'll give Vesper that.
Make an app that takes notes FOR me, automatically, without me having to even think about it, and I'll pay $5 for that. Seriously, we've been making note-taking apps since the dawn of the text editor. It's a solved problem. Move along.
Now, I don't drink coffee (dry eyes issues) and I'm not an app store shopaholic. However, if there is something of interest, I'm not going to complain about the lack of x and y and the high price.
The price is already too low.
Price: The price doesn't hugely concern me here. If I find an app truly useful, then $5 is a small price to pay, and I support developers making a bit of a stand on this and charging premium prices for premium products. The feature set isn't one that interests me because of the lack of sync, so whether it was $5 or $1 wouldn't really make a difference for me.
Design: 'flat design' is nice when done well, but detracts from usability when done badly in my opinion. If you have a non-flat design, unless it's hugely over-the-top, I don't think it detracts from the usability. (sidenote, what's the correct terminology for the opposite of 'flat design'? It's certainly not skeumorphic) Lots of Microsoft's 'metro' styling does flat design well, using varying font sizes and typographic and visual hints to provide context to controls, whereas Visual Studio has gone too far and removed far to many visual cues which results in a less usable interface in my experience.
I feel that Vesper goes to far. As there is so little to the app it's hard to justify it being 'less usable', but I do think the interface to be a long way from correctly executed flat design. I think other apps and designs are far closer to how flat design should be.
Another interesting thing to note is the animation on transitioning to a new note. Federico Vittici made a GIF of it (http://bit.ly/15EEKkP) for his review (http://bit.ly/11Hkz16). Federico points out that it makes the interface feel a lot faster to the user, but I don't think it's the right thing to do. Firstly, as I said above, I don't think speed should be a priority for things like this, after all, the amount of time for a 0.5s transition is minuscule to the amount of time spent composing the note. But also it breaks the well known metaphor of the UI stack in iOS. The back button still indicates that it will move to the screen on the left, however the screen hasn't really moved in the user's mind. It's not a crucial point, but it's one of those 'papercuts' (http://askubuntu.com/questions/1006/what-is-a-paper-cut) that I would expect a team such as the one behind this app to have addressed.
I wrote more than I planned to, so I might turn this into a blog post. Would be interested to know peoples thoughts on it first though.
"...sidenote, what's the correct terminology for the opposite
of 'flat design'? It's certainly not skeumorphic..."
Before then by and large GUIs had a flat look. The only depth was a bit of "cartoonish" drop-shadow on windows and menus on the Lisa and Mac (much more subtle - 1px - on the Mac) and on the minimize/maximize/close button contents on Windows 1 through 2. (And of course Amiga, Atari ST/GEM, GEOS, Xt and SunView all mimicked the Mac to various degrees.)
Edit: Ah, their company's name is "Q Branch" which is the division that provides all of Bond's gadgets.
Imagine someone creating "Imperial Studios" that released their new "Luke" and "Darth" apps.
- Gruber is a huge James Bond fan
- Vesper (Lynd)
- vesperapp.co makes a reference to QBranch