The latest star on the App Store is Paper, a drawing and sketching app that has been getting lots of praise recently.
Apart from the lovely UI and hipsterific moleskine imagery, I was wondering how this particular app had managed to garner so much more attention than other similar apps. Penultimate and others offer similar features (and have done well), but didn’t get the same amount of buzz.
I think the secret is that the default pen that is preselected in Paper makes a typical user’s horrible tablet ‘strokes’ look stylish and slick. Try it! Scribble a note in one of the other drawing apps and then write the same note in Paper: in most apps my notes look like my handwriting – horrible. In Paper my notes actually look fairly decent and even have a vague hint of calligraphy.
Writing in Penultimate is certainly not terrible, and you could even argue it’s slightly more legible, but Paper’s default presentation feels more “artsy” in a good way. Paper also has a few other tricks up its sleeve (free to get started, innovative ‘undo’ gesture and customizable moleskine-esque notebooks) that probably contributed to its success, but the results you can achieve with the free drawing tools are certainly a good way to hook users in.
It’s the same principle you’ll find in Apple’s iLife and iWork apps: there are alternatives out there that give you more freedom to express your own creativity and style, but in the hands of untrained users, the results are disappointing. But it’s easy to create a slick trailer in iMovie or a nice presentation with Keynote, without having to go through a steep learning curve.
So if your app is designed for content creation, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that even untrained users can achieve great looking results on their first go.