NoteNow: notes on your iOS wallpaper – sort of

NoteNow Icon

NoteNow is a simple note-taking app intended for one purpose: allowing users to type out a short note and make it the wallpaper of their iOS device. As a concept, it makes sense. Whether grocery shopping, responding to important emails, or reorganizing the carefully-selected ink pens in my messenger bag, I often find myself first typing a few short notes to use as a reference during the day’s work. Since my iPhone’s screen is often locked when I actually want to reference said notes, viewing them requires a tedious dance that involves the slide to unlock gesture, typing a four digit pin, and relaunching whichever note-taking app has most recently captured my fancy. After doing this for the forty-seventh time, most users begin to ask the same question: Why can’t my notes reside on the iPhone’s lock screen, only a single click of the home button away?

NoteNow Example Note

A Fatal Flaw?

NoteNow answers this question, but unfortunately, it’s probably not the answer you’re hoping to hear. As frustrating as unlocking your phone and launching an app to access your notes can be, it turns out creating notes and saving them as a wallpaper is just as tedious, if not more so. First, iOS doesn’t currently provide developers with an API to update the iPhone’s wallpaper from within an app. This can only be done from within two native iOS apps—Settings and Photos. Although third-party apps can save images to the camera roll, users must still switch to either the Photos or Settings app to actually change their wallpaper. This turns out to be NoteNow’s fatal flaw. Each time you create a new note or even edit an old note that you’ve previously saved as your iPhone’s wallpaper, you’re required to launch two separate apps and navigate at least a half dozen screens. The truth quickly becomes all too clear: the workflow problems NoteNow creates are actually worse than the problem it was created to solve in the first place.

NoteNow Second Example

A Glimmer of Hope?

To be fair, NoteNow isn’t all bad. It’s simple and straightforward. It uses slick multitouch gestures to navigate it’s limited feature set, and it lacks the cluttered interface and usability issues that often plague other apps trying to accomplish too many things at once. NoteNow even gives users a limited number of well-designed backgrounds and note styles to choose from, providing options for customization of the look and feel of the wallpapers they create. But in the end, none of this can compensate for the overwhelming sense of frustration one gets while trying to use the app in day-to-day life.

The Wrap Up

NoteNow is the sort of app one wants to like. It focuses on one specific task. It attempts to provide a solution to a very real problem. It uses a simple interface and limited feature-set to accomplish all of this. But unfortunately, the app’s downfall is the OS in which it lives. As with most apps that try to provide workarounds for missing features or functionality in iOS, NoteNow strives valiantly but fails miserably.

Joshua, an unapologetic connoisseur of all things Apple, spent the last six years designing interwebs and directing creatives at a small web firm named Deluge Studios. Recently he moved to the sunny streets of Kunming, China, to live, work and… Full Bio