Ink for iOS is a new Universal app for Apple devices. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.
Ink is another example of the currently-fashionable trend to create “minimalist” apps — mobile applications which have one very specific function and do not clutter up their interfaces or functionality with what the developer sees as unnecessary features. In Ink’s case, it is designed very simply to be a virtual scrap of paper on which users can quickly jot down notes or diagrams and then quickly and easily share them with others.
Ink’s interface is the height of minimalism. The screen is completely blank save for a small handle in the lower right corner of the screen. Drawing on the screen is a simple manner of swiping one’s finger (or, more practically, a stylus) across the screen to create realistic ink lines. There is no facility for erasing, no selectable colors and no means of annotating a picture from the camera or photo library — it’s simply a quick means of jotting down something the old-fashioned way.
The handle in the lower-right corner of the screen performs two main functions. Sliding it up and off the top of the screen — like tearing off a sheet of paper — saves the current note to the device’s camera roll and starts a new one. There is no means of reloading a note once it has been saved. Meanwhile, double-tapping the handle brings up a pop-up menu allowing the note to be shared on Twitter or Facebook, printed, copied, saved, sent via email or simply cleared altogether. Twitter and Facebook functionality uses iOS 5 and 6’s built-in social features respectively.
Ink does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to provide a no-frills sketching and/or note-taking experience. In that sense it is a success, but its minimalism works somewhat against it to a degree — the lack of an erase facility, for example, is a fairly glaring omission which has been criticized by a variety of App Store reviewers, and the app would benefit from the ability to reload past sketches or annotate other images. It’s also not particularly practical to use on the small screen of the iPhone due to the limited amount of space available, and it is difficult to use effectively without a capacitive touchscreen-compatible stylus.
Ink captures the feel of sketching and writing on a piece of paper, but ultimately its limited functionality makes it less than practical as a productivity solution. It’s a fun app for prospective artists who would like a means of quickly jotting down ideas and sharing them with others, but as a note-taking solution it leaves something to be desired. As such, it’s difficult to recommend wholeheartedly, but as a free app it is an interesting and fun curio for those who enjoy sketching and doodling.
Ink for iOS is currently ranked at No. 259 in Top Free Productivity Apps and No. 181 in Top Free iPad Productivity Apps. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.