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Hands on: Paper by FiftyThree comes to your pocket with iPhone support

Nick Mediati | Sept. 11, 2015
FiftyThree's popular sketching app comes to the iPhone at long last—and learns a few new tricks along the way.

paper by fiftythree iphone and ipad

We’ve been big fans of FiftyThree’s Paper for a while. It may not be the most feature-packed drawing app out there, but it’s well designed and easy to use, making it an ideal choice for jotting down quick sketches and diagrams.

The newly released Paper 3 builds on that foundation to become a more full-fledged note-taking and brainstorming app thanks to a host of new features. Oh—and it now runs on the iPhone after starting life as an iPad-only app. Let’s take a closer look at what this new version has to offer.

A refreshed interface

FiftyThree tweaked Paper’s interface a bit in this version to integrate some new features and to make it more iPhone-friendly, but if you’ve used Paper before, you’ll still feel right at home in Paper 3.0.

The home screen is a prime example of the tweaks FiftyThree made to the app. In previous iterations of Paper, the app would present your ideas as virtual notebooks (called “spaces” in Paper parlance), with each sketch represented as its own page. In Paper 3, FiftyThree eschews the old notebook metaphor, instead presenting spaces in virtual stacks of paper.

Orientation aside, Paper 3’s home screen is nearly identical on the iPad (left) and iPhone (right).

This layout makes Paper a little more usable on the iPhone, and it allows for some new features. For instance, you can reorder pages as you see fit just by dragging them around. You can also get a better preview of each item without opening them—you can “pinch” open and peek at the contents of your spaces, or get a nice, large preview of each idea page without having to open them. All in all, it’s a change for the better.

New features aplenty

Paper has its roots in drawing, but in version 3.0, you can also keep text notes. Add a new page, tap the “T” button, then start typing away. At first glance, the notes feature seems very basic, but in a cool twist, you can quickly and easily turn any line of text into a bulleted checklist item by swiping left to right. The bullet doubles as a check box, so you can readily use Paper for your to-do list—just tap the circle to check it off. It won’t replace a dedicated reminders app, but it’s a welcome addition regardless. 

paper to do list
Paper 3 lets you create checklists quickly and easily.


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