Pad & Quill

Pad & Quill

Stylish note-taker with a hint of nostalgia

Arguably the most pleasing feature about Pad & Quill doesn’t have anything to do with functionality – it’s the casual stacking nature of your notebook shelf, which acts as the app home screen.

Pad & Quill doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but what it does provide is a reliable note-taking facility that works in a very smooth and uncomplicated manner. The app’s description page on iTunes speaks of paying homage to old-fashioned notebooks, and indeed the pages you type are designed to look like classic, leather-bound journals in which you can scribble away without any page limits holding you back.

To preserve the feeling of genuine note-taking, handwriting-esque fonts are used, although you have the option of switching to Times New Roman if you really want to, and the page designs mimic those of traditional notebooks, with various lined options being included in addition to maths book-style grid paper. Beyond all these aesthetics, the interface is well-constructed and simple to navigate, with a home button constantly on show, as well as a bookmark option.

A single tap of the page number at the bottom of the screen opens up the toolbar. From here, you can edit the style of your font and paper, and edit your notebook in general by deleting or adding new pages, and then sharing your notes.  Being able to do this ultimately has the effect of highlighting one of the primary shortcomings of the app in that the only way to export your notes is via email, with this limited functionality leaving Pad & Quill trailing behind a lot of rival note-taking apps.

Another issue is the questionable logic behind making changes to the paper and font style. While it has become commonplace for a pop-up menu to show a preview of all your options, Pad & Quill uses a cycle system that applies a different setting to the page every time you tap either the Font, Paper or Colour options, and requires you to go through them until you find what you’re looking for. Compared to the sleek nature of other areas of the app, this feels surprisingly heavy-handed and tiresome to do, which is a shame.

This is especially strange considering how smooth the page-turning animations are, which is not always the case with other note-taking apps. The contents page at the start of each notebook, which by listing the first line of each note allows you to quickly find a specific part of the notebook should you wish to do so, also shows that a large amount of thought as has gone into designing the functionality in order to help increase the productivity of the user. This makes the font set-up even more confusing. It’s worth remembering that this app is still relatively new to the App Store, however, and like all apps needs time to iron out the kinks via updates. An increased amount of landscape functionality should also be on the agenda, given that only typing is possible in this set up at the moment.

But despite these various bumps in the road, there is no doubting Pad & Quill’s value as a productivity app. The stacked books home screen and clever shutter shortcut that allows you to whip away the home screen to reveal your notebooks are great examples of style and substance – two things that this app certainly doesn’t lack, but nonetheless still needs to work on. We look forward to seeing it evolve soon.

Rated 4 out of 5

A smart and endearing note-taker that has the potential to become an essential download.