FiftyThree announced that Paper 3.6 is coming out soon, and I’m excited to see the upcoming changes. I use Paper on a weekly basis at my job for sketching quick diagrams and throwing charts together for presentation. The biggest new feature is a re-imagining of the way that content is organized within Paper. We did see an overhaul of the Space metaphor when Paper 3.0 was launched, but Paper 3.6’s sidebar feels more in line with how I want to use the app.
The strength of Paper is in its editing UI. It’s great at making content creation feel very natural. I can mix paints together, cut and move objects quickly, and zoom in with a pinch when I want to do more fine details on a diagram.
However, there is a lot of wasted space in the current UI when it comes to managing different books. It just feels like FiftyThree was a little bit too in love with the metaphor of paper in the digital realm, and the new sidebar looks to be a much more efficient way of navigating my own content. I’m also hoping that the sidebar search will also work to highlight any text I may have attached to a sheet, but since the teaser post doesn’t mention that, I’m not holding my breath.
With that in mind, I do have a few other thoughts on what I’d like to see from Paper moving forward:
One of the things I missed, back when I owned an iPad mini, was having enough space to draw comfortably. Even with the great zoom integration on the Paper app, the mini still felt a little too cramped to really get anything done; so I told myself a few months ago that one of the things I really wanted to try on an iPad Air was to draw a little more often.
I’m not an artist, but as I’ve become more immersed in the world of product design over the past few years, I’ve really wanted to make a go of designing something myself. I started making a few leather gadget accessories last winter, and the ideas for these items were initially stored in a little pocket notebook. It’s a lovely little thing to keep around, but I found I didn’t use it every time inspiration struck, simply because it didn’t feel like the most natural tool to use. My iPhone and my iPad are always on-hand, but it’s things like paper notebooks that I tend to forget in my bag, or at my desk at home.
So one thing I’m proud to share is that the iPad, paired with the unbelievably awesome Paper app, has become my sketchpad over the last few months. Infinite easy erasure and an unlimited number of pages have helped me bring my own little designs to life. I’ve been using the Jot Pro and Jot Script styli, and the whole process of drawing on a screen is feeling more and more natural with every passing day. It’s really an amazing feeling to store and create designs on a device I’m already committed to carrying with me everywhere. It feels like bonus functionality.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the iPad has enabled me to do something I couldn’t do before. Pen and paper have always been around, and I’ve been curious about design for quite a while now. However, I think it’s fair to credit the iPad and Paper with making design — which was once a very daunting prospect — into something approachable, and incredibly fun, especially for a bright-eyed newbie like myself. I feel like I’m getting optimal use out of this tablet purchase, without forcing it to do things that just aren’t comfortable enough to do on a tablet. I’m surprised at how much fun I’ve been having while drawing on the iPad Air.