Skip to Content
Uncategorized

If an iPad and a Moleskine Had a Child …

An app brings the sketchbook experience to tablets.
April 5, 2012

Let’s begin with a video.

That’s a little introduction to Paper, a new app for the iPad. (You can download it for free here, but if you want to beef it up with features, you may rapidly be forking over money in two-to-eight-dollar chunks.)

I recently posed the question of whether designers would warm to the iPad 3 in a way that they hadn’t to its previous iterations. Apps like Paper are a step in the right direction for a more design-friendly iPad.

The Verge has a thorough and thoughtful review of Paper, which I encourage you to read. In it, and in the interview with Paper’s creator embedded at the end of this post, we learn that Paper has a Microsoftian pedigree; the team that made Paper had been working on Courier, the cool-but-now-dead Microsoft tablet.

FiftyThree, the company behind Paper, points out some of the coolest features of its app on its site. The app was designed to take advantage of the new iPad’s über-high-res Retina display, even allowing you to “see stunning details in your creations you couldn’t before—like pencil texture and watercolor edge bleed.” The app also employs what it calls an “expressive ink engine”; tools behave in quirky ways, different from how they act in the real world. The Verge gives one example: a fountain pen on “Paper” works very differently from a fountain pen on paper—in the app, a faster swipe will give you a thicker line.

The coolest feature, it would seem, is what the app makers call “rewind,” a curious idea when applied to a sketchbook, but a brilliant one. You saw it in the video above: a two-fingered maneuver lets you gracefully undo that wayward brushstroke—or 50 of them. The Verge reports that the idea came from Andrew S. Allen, a FiftyThree designer who is also a filmmaker; he wanted to replicate the editor’s experience of using jog dials within the app.

Here’s a time-lapse of someone making a sketch using Paper. For a compendium of nifty uses of the app, FiftyThree’s blog is a good place to start.

The app isn’t perfect, nor does it profess to be. Its utility is seriously held up by the lack of a perfect iPad stylus, a quest that, as I’ve noted, is unfolding on Kickstarter and elsewhere. But it’s an app that seems to have been created with a deep sense of design integrity, and a deep commitment to the same principles of simplicity that make that ancient piece of technology—the sheet of paper—such a powerful creative tool.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way
supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way

This is the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy

The stunning image was made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories across the globe.

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.