Drafts is a popular iOS app for jotting down notes and lists, passing thoughts, and great ideas. The app boasts a simple interface, but underneath it offers a long list of options for sending your musings to other apps and sharing via social networks. The iPhone app was updated earlier this week, along with the release of a separate app for the iPad. Drafts for the iPhone costs $1.99, and Drafts for iPad costs $2.99. While owners of both iOS devices will bemoan the lack of a universal app, you can sync the two. Let's take a spin through Drafts 2.0 and then take a quick look at the iPad version of the app.
When you first launch Drafts on your iPhone, you'll see a blank writing area at the top of the screen, a row of four buttons in the middle, and the keyboard below. From left to right, the buttons let you create a new note, view a list of your previously created notes, search, and share.
To start a new note, you need only to start typing. And like Google Docs, there is no save button. Notes are saved as quickly as you create them, with the first few words of your note showing up as the title in the documents list. Because the app does not require you to create a new note with a series of taps and swipes, Drafts is an excellent tool for jotting down sudden thoughts, creating quick lists, or taking down someone's contact info.
As you type, you'll see Drafts keeps a running word and character count, making it a useful scratchpad for potential tweets. You can create documents in either plain text or Markdown. And on my iPhone 4S, Drafts supports voice dictation.
For longer notes or lists, you can hide the keyboard by swiping down from its top edge. When reading in full screen, a fifth button (a link icon) gets added to the row at the bottom. Tapping the link button allows you to enter link mode, which makes URLs, e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers links you can tap. Drafts uses its own Terminology app, which lets you highlight a word to view dictionary and thesaurus information.
The share button is where Drafts hides the vast majority of its functionality. Tap the button to view a long list of sharing options, from posting Twitter and Facebook to saving to Dropbox and Evernote. Hidden toward the bottom of the list is an Appearance item, which lets you change the font, font size, and background color.
At the bottom of the list of sharing options is Settings. In settings, you can adjust which sharing items show up on the list and in what order. From the settings page, tap Manage Actions to be able to toggle the various actions on or off. There are dozens of apps lists, including a handful of Twitter clients, a few task managers, and numerous text editors and writing apps.
The middle section of the settings page, titled Drafts, lets you create an account with Simperium to sync the app with your various devices running Drafts. It's too bad you can't simply use iCloud to sync, but creating a Simperium account is quick and painless, and it syncs constantly. Below the sync line are four options -- 30 sec, 60 sec, 5 min, or Never -- for how soon Drafts will present you with a blank slate (instead of your last note) when you reopen the app.
In the third section of the settings page, titled Accounts, you can link Drafts to your Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, and Evernote accounts.
The iPad app works in a similar fashion, adding a few conveniences allowed by the added screen real estate. The biggest additions are undo and redo buttons, which are sadly lacking on the iPhone app (but may get added in a future update, I'm told). These two helpful buttons sit in a row above the keyboard, next to four navigation buttons and assorted character keys.
For a stripped-down, uber-simple scratchpad app, I would direct your attention to Pop for iOS. And for more note-taking apps, check out Jason Parker's top note-taking apps for iOS roundup from last year.