I really thought a long time about the question whether I should review Typeli by Lukasz Dmowski or not. When I looked at the app website for the first time, I was quite impressed by its design and feature set, but after trying it out for some time, most of the magic the website conveys is gone. What remains is just another note taking app with innovative, but very uncomfortable and unfinished styling and organizing features.
But before I list some examples and reasons to account for this opinion, I’ll shortly recap what Typeli has to offer. Its approach of note-taking is centered around the idea of having several notebooks for certain topics. The app is even designed like a notebook with a blue, tanned leather titlebar — which is there without any perceptible reason — placed on a wooden background, which doesn’t really fit my taste of minimalist UI design, but could be considered as good-looking with different ideas of aesthetic design in mind.
You create and switch between your notebooks via a drop down menu right at the top, and every notebook has got as many pages as you like. After opening a notebook, Typeli is all about writing; on a plain, quite plastic page. You can switch between the pages of your virtual notebook via a smooth dragging control above the menus or by clicking the left or right edges of the “main page” window .
The feature which distinguishes Typeli from other note-taking apps is its on-screen autocomplete interface to style and organize text. This unique approach includes change of text style (bold, italic, underline etc.), highlighting text as notes or reminders, list features (bulleted or numbered), change of colors and some more features. The autocomplete menu is either activated by tapping the “<” key and typing the feature you want or by double-clicking the text you wanted to style and choosing the feature using the cursor. This way it serves both keyboard and mouse fetishists (unfortunately sometimes both version appeeared at the same time), and it looks very nice too.
Unfortunately, Typeli doesn’t work as well as it looks. Maybe it’s also because I’m a long-time user of Notational Velocity (the app with which I write this review) and I’m not into styling my texts at all. I just want to write, nothing more; it quickly became evident that you should not use this app if you’re after flexible note-taking without any distractions. This has got several reasons. Firstly, Typeli’s lack of flexibility becomes manifest in several, mostly missing features: the main window of the app can not be rescaled horizontally in the current version, its fixed to a very big and dominant width, which makes it very uncomfortable to use Typeli parallel to other apps like browsers you get information from. The app also features no online backup or syncing possibility with Dropbox, Simplenote, iCloud — a feature which is very common and useful for note-taking apps and which I definitely missed the most — and in fact no preferences at all.
In addition to the lack of such established features, the integrated ones are not really thought out. For instance, I still search for a way how to delete the sample notebooks that come preinstalled with Typeli, which are not needed at all after the tutorial. There might be that option, but it’s hidden pretty well. Same thing with the autocomplete menu, which essentially is a very individual and useful idea, and also conversed very aesthetically concerning its UI. It has an immense amount of possibilities, but practically, these features rather confused than impressed me. I had many frustrating moments with Typeli, when I had to try more than 10 times to turn off the underlined text style — regardless of which reason it didn’t work, bug or improper use for my part, it was not intuitive and worked not as smooth as the tutorial at the first launch promised.
As I already mentioned the design is quite felicitous, but even there I found one very objectionable, not thought out detail: Typeli doesn’t offer the ability to change the text font. Instead, the Mac OS X font manager is used in place of custom, built in font controls.
So I finally have to say, that Typeli definitely has got the potential of becoming a great note-taking app with its design and the autocomplete text styling integration, but none of these possible hit features are currently worked and thought out enough to make it a hundred percent usable. It has many good ideas, but a working UI design is lacking. Hopefully, we’ll see some updates to Typeli soon which furnish and strengthen its feature set. Until then you can get the current version for reduced $1.99 on the Mac App Store until 30th April.
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