FastFinga iPhone app –> iPhone ink blogging!
Hey, Kids! Just testing out an iPhone app called FastFinga. I think I've found my ink blogging app for the iPhone (and iPad!). The UI is really intuitive, much more so than Note Taker. And as you can see, my handwriting is recognizable. This app feels most natural to me. It's so good that I may start ink blogging more regularly from the iPhone. Yay! 🙂 Now I don't feel so bad buying the Pogo Sketch. Was starting to think that it was a wasted purchase. :-\ ===== Some backstory: The other night I started searching the App Store for other apps that I could do handwritten notes with. A while back I had downloaded the free version of Dan Bricklin's Note Taker app to test it out with my new Pogo Sketch stylus. I tested it, but the interface felt a little awkward to me. I could have gotten used to writing out notes with it eventually, but I wasn't that happy with it. So I went searching for other note-taking apps and came across this interesting-looking one called Use Your Handwriting, or UYH for short. There was a free version, but I also downloaded the pay version because in its description they said you could e-mail handwritten notes to people. This appealed because I blog mainly via e-mail to Posterous, or via the Posterous bookmarklet. It looked kind of funky because you write on a black background and the "ink" colors look like they're glowing, similar to some restaurants' menu specials board. Anyway, I tried out the app with the Pogo Sketch and for some reason, I really had to press hard in order for strokes to be registered on the screen. This was true for both the stylus and using my finger. I had to write really slowly in order for the words to be registered, which was a real pain. Plus it didn't seem like I could actually write long notes. Worst of all, the UI feels so kludgy and unintuitive that I keep having to tap random icons to get around. I just didn't feel like learning the interface any further since it was clear I wouldn't be using this app for much ink blogging. I downloaded and played around briefly with an app called Tanzaku Pad Free, but it still wasn't quite what I was looking for, so I kept looking. I came across an app called Paint for Evernote which seemed to be a notetaking app geared towards exporting notes to Evernote, presumably to take advantage of Evernote's OCR feature. However, an app reviewer recommended using FastFinga instead, which prompted me to check out reviews for it. The screenshots looked good, and the price was low (USD$0.99), so I bought it. Luckily, I love it! And funnily enough, it's by the same company that did Tanzaku Pad Free (Catalystwo). I'm kind of surprised that FastFinga renders the text so much better (IMO) than Tanzaku Pad. You'd think they'd use the same drawing methods. Anyway… FastFinga's UI is very clean and easy to figure out. I love that the UI elements have a hand-drawn look to them: Even though it's easy to tap each icon to figure out what they do, the last of the settings pages in the app provide a key: Below is an example of what the interface looks like in writing mode. You use the whole screen to write out words, and as you fill up the screen, you tap on the "thumb button" to add it to the page. There is also a setting to automatically add text you've written after a certain period of idle time. You can hit the expand icon to continue writing a word or two beyond the initial width of the screen, but be forewarned that if you continue writing, it will truncate anything past the right margin, if you're not careful. So it's best just to write out 2 to 4 words, depending on how big your writing is, and hit the thumb button periodically to enter the text. The app will handle spacing out your words and continuing on the next line if you've filled up the current line. Once you're done, you can use the arrow keys to move around the written text to edit, if necessary. As seen in the next picture, there are several ways to export your notes, even sending them to Twitter or Evernote, if you configure those services in the settings. This is a very flexible app that doesn't try to lock you into a proprietary file format. The notes can be exported as PNG or JPEG. Also seen in the picture below, you can import photos from your photo library, or take a picture, which is very handy if you want to annotate pictures you've taken. Here is the palette of colors and pen widths: Hitting the blue up arrow in the upper-right corner of the note page will take you out to your list of notes, complete with thumbnails. So, if you're looking for a way to ink blog or jot down quick notes with your iPhone, I highly recommend FastFinga. It works well with either the Pogo Sketch, or just your finger. I tried writing out a note without the stylus, and the text was still fairly legible, as you can see in the top thumbnail above. Great app! I'm quite happy that I found it. I think it'll be quite useful, even beyond ink blogging. I really do hope that Catalystwo updates this for the iPad. With the larger screen, it'll be even more useful for taking handwritten notes in meetings or classes. I'd love to do full-blown ink blogging on an iPad with this app. I could even see it being used as a personal journal, or a notebook for field notes. Very cool app! BTW, as I was searching the Google for any app reviews for FastFinga, I did see this one from the Cult of Mac blog. I thought it was really cool because the whole review was written out using FastFinga, ink-blog style. Check it out.