Quick Look: Vesper for iPad

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Patrick already picked Vesper as last week’s iPad App of the Week, but call me greedy: I wanted to write about it as well. If you look at Vesper bullet point by pullet point, it’s hard to see why you’d use it as an alternative to apps like Drafts or Evernote. Evernote has apps on every platform and its notes can take files, images, and text. Drafts has had is iOS only, but it has all the tools you need to automate your text workflow on an iPad.

In comparison, Vesper was designed to excel as a classier version of the built-in Notes app, with an option to add a single picture to each note.

I spent the past few days playing with Vesper to see whether it would stick for me, and I found all sorts of really delightful details embedded in the UI. If you show Vesper to someone who has never seen it before, they’ll likely comment on how nice the font is. In my experience, even people who aren’t into fonts tend to see the difference. Then there are the animations. Tapping on a note in the list view will cross-fade you into that note, swiping to see the tag list uses a subtle parallax effect, and leaving a note zooms smoothly back out into the list view.

The thing is, as an iPad app, Vesper isn’t really there yet. It’s really just an adapted iPhone version that happens to work on the iPad. This means there can be a lot of blank space on the screen, as most iPhone apps show a single pane of information at a time. There aren’t any obvious modifications to the iPhone design to take advantage of the different ways that people use and hold an iPad, or to take advantage of the extra space on the iPad’s screen. I’m not too nervous about this though. Q Branch is working on the Mac version of Vesper, but I’m pretty sure they’ll circle back to re-imagine the iPad app afterwards.

I really want to integrate Vesper into my everyday workflow, in large part because it’s just so incredibly satisfying to use. It has a better and faster sync engine than Drafts does, so notes are more consistently updated across my iPhone and iPad during the day. However, that custom sync engine is also what keeps me from committing to Vesper. I’m worried about not being able to access notes on my work PC, or having my data stuck in Vesper should I choose to try another app six months from now. You can of course use the iOS 8 share sheet to send notes out of Vesper, but only on an individual basis.

That isn’t a condemnation of Vesper, simply an admission that this magnificent app isn’t for me. As simple as Vesper is to use, keeping it around would actually complicate my setup, so I’ll be sticking with Drafts and Evernote for now.

Here’s an App Store link for Vesper ; it’s priced at a very sustainable $10 with no in-app purchases. You will definitely get what you pay for.


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3 thoughts on “Quick Look: Vesper for iPad”

  1. Thomas thanks for the continued coverage of these note taking apps. I find my sticking point has always been lack of a desktop component. The iPad or iPhone only apps are great until I’m in front of my desk for 8 hours. Then it’s a bit awkward / unworkable to switch to iPad/iPhone only.

    I’ve tried Simplenote which for me was a synchronization disaster. Drafts and Vesper really need some type of desktop component.

    1. My pleasure, Wayne!
      Agreed about the syncing across platforms, wholeheartedly. Sometimes it’s just easier seeing those things on one screen and not having to switch devices. I think Vesper *could* eventually see a web client, but because the project is not their full-time jobs, I don’t think that will be any time soon.

      It *is* a real pleasure to type and take quick notes in Vepser, though. Damn it all.

  2. A agree whole-heartedly with you, Wayne. There are a lot of great note-taking apps out there, but for me to ever commit I need a reliable desk-top app that has great synching services. Hell, I’d be happy with a web-version with reliable synch, if it gave me the convenience of cross-platform use.

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