John Gruber isn’t just the best-connected Apple blogger: he’s now joined the company’s legion of iOS app makers. On Thursday he, along with his two co-founders, launched their first iOS app together, called Vesper, a hybrid notes and list-making app.
The app, which is not cheap at $4.99, has been in the works since last fall, its genesis linked to a meeting between Brent Simmons, the app’s developer, Dave Wiskus, its designer, and Gruber, who calls himself the app’s “director.” They met at a conference in Montreal, and named the company Q Branch. Gruber says the app is based on “an idea I’ve been pondering for years.”
It’s hard to categorize what exactly Vesper is: it’s a note-taking app, but it can also function as a to-do list. These are both popular categories of apps on the iOS App Store, so Vesper has its work cut out for it to stand out among them: it’s basically competing with everything from Evernote to Wunderlist to Google Keep to Clear.
“What’s the difference between a thought, an idea, and something you want to do?” Gruber asked. “I don’t know exactly. That’s why we made Vesper.”
The app is very simple and from just some brief use, it’s pretty speedy. You can quickly add notes or thoughts with a “+” button, swipe to archive items, tag them, and attach photos. You can share them only via email or iMessage; no social options exist yet. The other thing missing: any way to sync your notes to another device. This is only an iPhone app, so if you create a to-do list or collection of thoughts here, there’s no simple way to also see that list on your desktop or a tablet.
One of the standout things about Vesper is the appearance: it’s very simple with muted tones; which is probably intended not to distract from the “get things done” point of the app. (It’s also reminiscent of the stripped-down simplicity of DaringFireball.net.)
It’s hard not to notice how very “flat” the design is. In other words, very much in line with the latest trends in iOS design and — considering Gruber’s sources — likely to blend pretty seamlessly with iOS 7 design changes Apple’s likely to announce at WWDC next week.