Elements is a new text editor app for the iPad, or for me a notes app. It’s full name listed in its App Store entry is Elements – Dropbox Powered Text Editor, and as that name implies Dropbox integration is one of its key selling points.
It certainly sold me on wanting to take a good look at this app as soon as I heard it had hit the App Store – as I’ve been using Dropbox for ages and absolutely love the service. If you’ve not yet discovered Dropbox, it is by far away the easiest and best online file sync / backup service I’ve ever come across. It offers up to 2GB of space for free and then a very reasonable $9.99/month for up to 50GB on their premium service. I use the service on my MacBook Pro, as well as my iPhone and iPad – so any notes app with a hookup to Dropbox has instant appeal for me, and I’ve been trying it out a bit.
Here’s a little more detail on Elements, via its App Store page:
Elements is a beautiful, versatile text editor for iOS. Elements allows you to view, edit and share plain text documents on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. All of your data is stored in a folder on your personal Dropbox account so that its accessible from any device you have.
Whether you’re a freelance writer wanting to write your next article, a student with a book report due or professional on-the-go who needs access to their notes wherever they are, Elements can work for you.
– Create, view and edit text files (.txt) on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
– Cloud based: Elements stores all its data in an /Elements subfolder on your personal Dropbox account so you can access it via your iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC.
– Offline support: upload your changes to Dropbox next time you’re connected
– Word counts, line counts, character count
– A Scratchpad to flesh out ideas or store random bits of information.
– Email files as an attachment
– Customize the look of the text editor to fit your workflow
– TextExpander touch support
– Free customer support via email
And here are a few of my thoughts on the app after just a short while of using it:
— I like the fairly minimalist UI. It’s not quite as basic as Simplenote, but it’s not far off either and is nice to work with.
— One of the places where it’s slightly less basic approach is very welcome is in the broad selection of fonts it offers. As you can see in the screenshot at the top of this post, it offers quite a good range to choose from. You can also set your text size, text color, and text background color.
— I like how simple and quick setup of the app is. You need a Dropbox account to work with the app – just enter your Dropbox login credentials and you’re done. Once you’ve done that, it does the rest. An Elements folder is created for you within Dropbox, and immediately starts syncing with Elements on the iPad.
— When you tap the + button to create a new file in Elements, you get a popup where you give the new file a name. I’m in two minds about whether I like this feature or not. On the plus side, it lets you choose a name immediately rather than settling for whatever your first line of text happens to be (as in the built-in Notes app or Simplenote). On the down side, there are times where it’s nice not to have that extra step when creating a new note. I think I’d like to see an ability to start straight into a note without the file name popup, but then have an ability to easily rename a note.
— I like its Scratchpad – that is a popover window on the right hand side of the screen which should prove handy for a number of purposes.
— There are a few things I find a little disappointing in using Elements so far. One is that it doesn’t support sub-folders within Dropbox. I’m not sure if this is just a limitation of the app, or one imposed by Apple – but the Dropbox app itself supports sub-folders so it seems to me this app should too. Having all your notes dump into just the single Elements folder will quickly become less than ideal if you use the app a lot.
— It also exclusively supports plain text files, so if you want to be able to sync notes to it from the desktop, you need to have a text editor app you like using. For those who already have a favorite text editor app on the desktop, this will not be an issue. I don’t have a plain text editor app that I enjoy using on my Mac as yet, so it’s an issue for me for now.
— In an ideal world, I’d love to see Elements have a nice little free (or reasonably priced) desktop companion app (a la Simplenote, for which there are a few good options).
For now, I like the idea of Elements, and I love the Dropbox integration – it has earned a place on my first iPad home screen. Its lack of a good desktop companion is a pain though – it means Evernote, as always, remains my all-around go-to notes app. Now if anyone wanted to come up with some slick Evernote + Elements + Dropbox tag team effort, I’d be all over that.
I may post a more complete review once I get to know Elements better.
You can find Elements in the App Store now. It’s a universal app that will run on the iPad as well as the iPhone and iPod Touch, and is priced at $4.99.
*** This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the "About" page.