Monday, August 1, 2011

iTunes Moleskine App

The iTunes Moleskine app looks fantastic, just as if you had a Moleskine at your fingertips to write or draw in, like Hemingway or Monet or Klaatu the robot (maybe one of those--Monet?--didn't actually use a Moleskine, but that's not the point).

To start, you can change the color of the ribbon around the cover to match whichever type of Moleskine you want. This doesn't actually do anything other than making the app look more real and attractive, but that's quite all right. I chose yellow, but you can get red, orange, green, purple, or any of the other shades available.

You start by creating a thought, which is dated and can be given a category (that's the asterisk icon on the right). This page seems to start out lined, but you can choose what type of paper you want to write on through the menu. And there are lots of menus!

This menu at the start of your throughs lets you choose Text, drawing, or adding a picture. The problem I had was that while I wanted Text to type in my thoughts, I couldn't get past the drawing part of the app. Something was wrong, so I went to the help section (which is the lighbulb on the top right of the pages).

Page one of the help info gives me all sorts of useful data, but how do I get to using Text?

Page 2 tells me how to turn Text on, so why isn't it working? Nowhere does Moleskine mention that if you tap twice on the iPad it will bring up the keyboard so you can type rather than write or draw your text. I found that out by accident, as I was absent-mindedly tapping on the app trying to figure out what was wrong.

Unfortunately, once I brought up Text I couldn't figure out how to switch back to the drawing part of the app, so I went into another menu to look.

This menu lets you choose the way your pages look, categories, and sharing your thoughts by emailing the page.

This is a view of how to change the4 paper, from grid to plain to lined. It's a deep ivory color, which I haven't found a way to lighten and don't thing you can.

When I was doodling around with the drawing app this message came up--if you want to write something (like you would in a Moleskine with a real pen rather than a capacitative instrument) this function mimics text to smooth out your writing or printing and make it legible. You have still written something, but now you can read it.

Here's the keyboard for Text writing, which I was glad to see. For people who would like to draw, there is a major problem in that the Moleskine app is portrait only. A landscape function would be great for artists and dabblers.

My handwriting on surfaces like this (such as the FedEx and UPS devices) isn't that great , although the smoothing-out function made it look better. One problem is that your hand rests on the iPad as you write, and so you can leave lines and squiggles on the page. Doesn't seem to have the hand-rest function I've seen on other notebook apps, where the screen basically becomes frozen so you don't pick up any extra lines.

The Moleskine app is beautifully designed and looks fantastic, just like a real Moleskine. But it is unwieldy (the reviews on iTunes are pretty brutal) and needs more work and better instructions. It's free, however, so if you're looking for a way to keep a Moleskine on your iPad and have a lot of time to figure out how it works (and the online instructions are no better than the ones show above) then you probably want to take a look at this.