Text Editors are one of the most basic apps, so why did we build a new one?
All we wanted was an app that:
- Edits plain text files stored in Dropbox,
- Supports basic text formatting,
- Is an iPhone and iPad universal app,
- Has easy-to-read fonts, and
- Full-screen editing.
Bonus points for:
- iPad Pro native resolution support,
- Hardware keyboard shortcuts,
- Split-view multitasking, and
- Exporting to PDF.
We looked at many best-selling apps. Some came close, but surprisingly none checked all the boxes.
So we built our own
SyncNotes stores your notes as plain text files. That's the best guarantee that they will be readable 20 years from now.
Most of the synching apps out there are tied to a proprietary service that makes it hard to get your files out. Worse, their business models rely on charging you expensive monthly fees to access your data after a certain point.
For us, Dropbox has emerged as the clear best choice for file synching. It's platform-independent, transparent, full-featured, and has a very generous free plan (text files use a really tiny amount of storage). We've been running our own business on Dropbox for many years, and have never had a problem.
SyncNotes will auto-sync your files with Dropbox across all your devices. They will show up as a set of .txt files that you can edit in any standard text editor.
Plain text files are great, but being able to add headings, bold and italics is super useful, even for basic notes.
Due to the the nature of touch screens, the traditional select-then-format system on desktop apps doesn’t work well. Luckily, systems such as Markdown
have emerged as a handy way to format plain text. SyncNotes supports three simple formats:
Put a hash (#) character at the beginning of a line, followed by a space to make it a title. Use two hashes (##) to make a sub-title.
Surround words with a single asterisk, *like this
* to make it italic.
Surround words with a two asterisks, **like this
** to make it bold.
Even if you later edit the file in an editor that doesn't recognize these special characters, the file is still completely readable.
Screen real-estate is especially a problem on iPhones, but also on iPads in landscape. When the on-screen keyboard is visible (and with full-screen mode on the iPad), SyncNotes removes every bit of wasted vertical space to give you the maximum view of your work.
We spent a lot of time finding the perfect font. We finally settled on Source Code Pro
by Adobe. It's a beautiful fixed-width font that was originally designed for people who work with text all day.
While fonts are clearly a personal choice, a fixed-width font makes sense for plain text editing because it allows you to easily line up words, and Source Code Pro is just about the most readable fixed-width font we've found.
Most existing text editor apps weren't built with bluetooth and hardware keyboards in mind. This becomes particularly obvious when you try using them on an iPad Pro with an attached keyboard, which is the most natural way to use a text editor.
SyncNotes is designed to be usable with just the keyboard, so you rarely have to move your fingers off the keys. You can select notes with the arrow keys, and press Cmd+Enter to start editing.
Press the Cmd key to see a full list of the shortcuts.
It's useful to first draft a memo in SyncNotes, then send it as a formatted email. This will preserve the headings and text formatting.
You can also export documents as plain text, rich-text (RTF), PDF, and even HTML, to share or open in other apps.
Exported PDFs in particular are an easy way to generate simple, clean, yet professional-looking documents.
We were surprised to find that many best-selling apps haven't been updated to support the 12.9” iPad Pro's native on-screen keyboard (you can tell because the keyboard is the comically-large zoomed version that is also missing the number keys). With SyncNotes, you get the full keyboard with number and tab keys.
SyncNotes also fully supports Split-View multitasking, so you can take notes while watching a video, viewing a webpage, or reading a book.
SyncNotes is currently in Beta. We need your help to get it to production because Dropbox now requires a minimum number of users before we can release broadly. Get the Beta here today
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Beta program. SyncNotes is now live in the App Store! Download it here
Thanks so much!