On the quest to find the ultimate app, I believe I have arrived at a sublime truth. Productivity and efficiency are not software problems. If they were, you'd be able to assemble enough code to do a persons job for them, so that they wouldn't have to do anything. While at first, this seems appealing, Meriam-Webster defines a state of "requiring little attention or thought" as mindlessness. It turns out that humans have a fundamental aversion to mindlessness, and prefer rather to be in a state of mindfulness.
Therefore the so-called perfect app isn't an app that does everything so much as it's an app that partners with you so that you can do everything. Ideal partnerships are those where two parties work together, and each party's weaknesses are covered by the other's strengths.
The human mind is unparalleled in the realms of creative problem-solving. Apps on the other hand excel at organization and memory. Thus the perfect app robustly stores and organizes user information and then gets out of the way to allow the user's mind to supply the creativity.
Meet paper: the ultimate app. Paper, or papyrus in the original Latin, was produced by a startup in the at-the-time tech capital of the world at Nile River, Egypt. These early paper startups put other well established stone-based and clay-based companies out of business. Since then, paper has enjoyed global popularity in various industries. Even today, it is still a heavily-used app in many silicon-based tech companies.
Here is a screenshot of my paper app:
When you open the app, you can either view some work that you were previously working on, or you can start on a new document. In either case, you don't need to create or remember a file name. Other apps have spent a lot of time optimizing previews of files, but paper supported high-resolution no-load-time previews since v1.0
Paper also supports some key features that makes it stand-out in an information-saturated age. Paper supports a high-level of "sandboxing" which prevents other apps from interfering with the app experience, allowing greater levels of focus and distraction-free problem-solving.
The sandboxing feature comes at the cost of notifications--paper cannot remind you about an upcoming event. When I first installed paper, I thought that this was going to be a deal-breaker. However, I found that adapting was not that difficult, as I became more mindful of what was coming up. As I said before, the perfect app makes the user more mindful, and less mindless. This mindfulness benefits the user in an increased sense of presence, control, and contentment.
Paper offers a range of customizability settings. My Paper is currently set to a pocket-sized dotted graph paper that fits easily in my back pocket. I use a fountain pen to write in black ink. My wife prefers slightly larger paper sizes, and carries a wide range of colors to use on her Paper. A brief Google search will reveal myriads of different settings that can appeal to needs in almost any industry and situation, from business to academia to industry to art.
This almost infinite range of customizability options means that you can personalize your Paper to fit your personality. I have really grown attached to my Paper, as I often take the time to add borders, layouts, banners, and headers on different pages. When people see my notes, they get really curious and are excited to page through and see my work. This gives Paper a sexiness that many other apps simply do not have.
On just about every phone that I have owned, as time continues the battery wears out and can't retain charge very well. This means that I either have to uninstall all of my battery-guzzling apps, carry an external battery around, or stay plugged into the wall all the time.
Thankfully, Paper does not consume any battery. It also works when your battery is dead. This gives Paper reliability far superior to other solutions.
Cross Platform Compatibility
Not all apps work well in both Android and Apple ecosystems. Thankfully Paper is 100% compatible with these two environments and more! This means that even if you change your device, you never have to change the format of your Paper.
Tech companies will often specify how long they support a certain software suite. Typically, the support lifetime is in the range of a few years. But when it comes to storing data, you want a reliable solution that will be supported for decades.
Paper's support model has been tried and tested for centuries, and there are many public displayed of files that were created centuries ago! If you need a storage solution with support that will outlive you, Paper is the way to go.
With that being said, Paper doesn't scale well, and if you expect to be accruing large amounts of data, you will likely have to invest in a larger data plan.
Privacy and Data Usage
For those with little or no data plan, Paper does very well. While many of Paper's competitors are moving to the cloud, Paper makes sure that all of your data remains with you and is never stored on anybody's server.
An additional benefit is that Paper doesn't lose any functionality where cellular coverage fails. And in the unlikely event of a strong magnetic field, Paper will maintain its integrity, while conventional hard drives will fail.
If there is one point where Paper is weak, it is organization. Keeping tabs of where all of your notes are in an analog system can be a bit of a chore. I keep a table of contents on the first page of my notebook, but this only helps me find what page certain entries are at. It does not do a good job of indexing keywords and rapidly jumping from one match to the next.
That being said, if I was the one who authored the content, I usually have an easy time flipping through my notebook and remembering approximately where the content was. I know for some, the need for search can be a deal-breaker. For me, I need this feature often enough to hinder my experience.
Entry-level paper can be purchased for a few cents per page. Even professional-grade notebooks with ~150 sheets sell for $15, which comes to about $0.10 per sheet. While this is on the steep side for some, and definitely more expensive than digital alternatives, our ideas are definitely worth $.10/page.
Where paper shines:
- long-term support
- cross-platform compatability
Where it falls short:
If you are wanting to start your journey with Paper, you may consider picking up a Moleskine on Amazon or at any bookstore. Bullet Journaling is a good general-purpose workflow that I've gotten a lot of mileage out of.
In summary, I am really pleased with the niche that Paper has filled in my daily workflow! It works better than any app on the market at helping me get my stuff done, and it gives me a chance to be creative while being productive and organized. If you're looking for a new "app" in your workflow, give Paper a try!