Rocketr Brings Social Notebooks to the iPhone

Groups are “in” when it comes to apps, and a new iPhone (s aapl) app aims to use groups to differentiate its note-taking capabilities. Rocketr (free) is a simple, no-frills, cloud-synced, note-taking web application which just got an official iPhone client. Its most appealing feature, though, is the ability to share notes with a community of editors, and to share notebooks with an even wider audience, too.

In stark contrast to Evernote, which offers a catch-all for a wide variety of inputs, Rocketr sticks to the basics: white on black text. But that’s not to say it’s simple. It has quite a few nifty tricks up its sleeve, not the least of which is automatic syncing with Rocketr’s website, where you can retrieve your notes at any time from any browser-enabled, internet-capable device.

But Rocketr goes beyond other note-taking apps — and even MobileMe’s note-syncing services — by introducing a social element. First, you can add an unlimited number of editors to your notebooks who will also be able to add to and change the content of notes they’re added to. Second, you can make an unlimited number of public notebooks that will be viewable by other Rocketr users, who can comment on (web version only for now), follow and star your notes for later reference. Rocketr provides three free private notebooks, and presumably, the plan is to later add the ability to have more for a price. The Rocketr web app is currently only available as a beta, but you can sign up for an account through the iPhone app without an invite code.

Rocketr also lets you add notes by emailing [email protected] with the email address associated with your account (you can add as many as you like), or by tweeting with the hashtag #rkt (once you connect your Twitter account to your Rocketr account). It’s a simple, yet effective, way of making sure you’ll be able to easily find tweeted thoughts again later on once the moment’s passed, or to quickly file info in a RT for later use.

The iPhone app lets you quickly add new notes without ever having to leave the note-taking view, thanks to a simple add button that quickly files what you’re working on and brings up a fresh composition screen. I can see using the app at conferences as a great way of quickly switching gears during a Q&A, for example.

But Rocketr’s real potential is in its social aspects. The ability to follow and be followed by collaborators as well as others who share your interests opens a whole new world when it comes to the ability to gather and share informal feedback. That could be very handy, for instance, when working with an editor pool to coordinate event coverage. Or when preparing a meal plan and shopping list for an extended family dinner.

Rocketr was developed using a lean startup approach, and it isn’t yet a perfect app (commenting has yet to be introduced, as I mentioned, and you can only create new notebooks using the web interface), but it’s more effective than many other shipping apps that aren’t free, and developers promise lots of updates to come. Evernote might intimidate some with its wealth of features, but Rocketr keeps things light and breezy, almost like the difference between a detailed, time-stamped project log and a pocket-sized moleskin. If you’re looking for a smart, capable note-taking app that never seems like a chore to use and plays nicely with others, give Rocketr a try.