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Where Text Starts

Jot Takes a Stripped-Down Approach to Note Taking

Jot is a simple note taking app that collects the little bits of textual ephemera that come at you throughout the day. True to its name, Jot makes it easy to take down notes quickly. Although I think there’s room for a few more features that would enhance the app without compromising its simple approach, anyone with basic note taking needs that is looking for an app that focuses first and foremost on the words captured should appreciate Jot.

Jot is a paper tape-style app. There is no tagging or folder system. Notes are created by tapping the plus button in the lower right-hand corner of the app’s main screen or by pulling down on the notes list. New notes are added to the top, pushing older ones down the list.

The note compose view places the cursor in the middle of the text field similar to other text editors’ typewriter mode. Along the bottom of the view is a checkbox and clock icon for turning a line of text into a task that can be checked off and creating a reminder. Reminders include ‘Soon,’ ‘Tomorrow,’ and ‘In a week’ presets as well as options to set a custom reminder time and remove a reminder. On my iPad Pro, tapping the reminder button crashes Jot, which is a bug that the developers are aware of and are working to fix, but it works fine on the iPhone X. When you’re finished creating a note, tap ‘Done’ and it’s added to the top of your list.

Notes longer than about six lines long are truncated. The only way to see the full note is to open it with a tap. I understand the decision to truncate long notes in a paper roll-style app, but this would be a perfect spot to add peek and pop support using 3D Touch, which strikes me as consistent with the app’s aesthetic.

Notes can be archived by swiping left on them. Interestingly, there is no delete option, except after a note is archived, which is a little cumbersome.

If you have a note you don’t want to lose track of, you can pin it to the top of the list by swiping left on a note and tapping the pin icon. If you pin more than one note, they appear at the top of the screen in chronological order by creation date. Pinned notes can be unpinned with another right-to-left swipe and picking ‘unpin.’

Search provides access to your note archive, recent searches, and new searches and settings can help streamline Jot’s experience further.

Search provides access to your note archive, recent searches, and new searches and settings can help streamline Jot’s experience further.

The other way to find notes is by search. Tapping in the search field at the top of Jot’s main screen opens a separate search view. From here, you can tap into your note archive to browse, pick a search from your recent searches, or create a new search. In my tests, search was effective and fast. The modal search view makes it easy to let users browse their archive and select recent searches, but separating it into a separate view feels a little counter to the app’s bare bones style.

Swiping left to right reveals options to copy a note and share it from the system share sheet. The app’s settings let users toggle autocorrect, auto-archive completed task lists, launch the app in its compose view for even faster text entry, and require a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID authentication.

The point of Jot is quick, simple text entry. Despite that though, there are a few features I’d like to see added that I don’t think would run counter to its goals. The first is sync. Notes do not sync between iOS devices, which is important if you split your time between an iPhone and iPad. Jot cannot detect phone numbers, addresses, or URLs either. Although I understand that Jot is intended to be a text-only app, adding the ability to launch the phone app, Maps, and Safari from Jot would add utility to the text entered without compromising the app’s simplicity. An extension for getting text into Jot from other apps would be useful too.

Jot’s unique take on note taking is interesting. I like the clean, sparse interface and the ability to take down notes quickly with minimal effort. The app should appeal to anyone who doesn’t care about the multimedia capabilities of Apple’s Notes app or the automation features of an app like Drafts. It’s a solid 1.0 release that I hope continues to be refined to address some of the shortcomings mentioned above.

Jot is available on the App Store for an introductory price of $1.99.

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