Epistle: A Minimalist Text Editor For the Cloud

Taking notes is a vital aspect of most people’s everyday routines, from conference or lecture notes to shopping lists. We often have to resort to using rough scrawlings on a piece of paper that gets lost or ruined.

Epistle is a note-taking application for your Android phone. Thanks to low resource usage, it is a speedy and efficient way of making and viewing notes while on the move. It features integration with your Dropbox account too, so you can access your notes from your computers as well as your phone!

The Interface

Epistle’s minimalist design is great for its overall functionality. It is easy to use and there is absolutely nothing to learn or anything that you may be unfamiliar with. One of the highlights of Epistle is that it’s lightning fast to load. I dare say it is the quickest application I have ever used on my phone, certainly regarding start-up time.

To create a note, you need only to load up Epistle and tap the ‘+’ icon in the top-right-hand corner. Where the italicised ‘New Note‘ text is, you can give the note a title. Then just tap the white backing below it to start filling it with content.

There is only so far customization can go with an application that operates solely with text; however, Epistle gives you as much choice in its appearance as it can. For instance, you can configure the text and font formatting just in case you find the defaults displeasing. The fonts in the screen capture below are Epistle’s defaults.

Typing up a new note!

Typing up a new note!

If you are a real scribble fiend and take down dozens of notes, then scrolling through them would be quite a pain. So to help avoid such a frustration, Epistle offers a search function. To use it you can press the Search button on your phone, or tap the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen. Type in a keyword, and press search to make all notes with that keyword show up. You can refine your search using multiple keywords.

Eventually your notes or ‘to-do’ pieces will no longer be relevant. To delete an entry, just tap and hold your finger on an item. A dialogue box pops up and you can click ‘remove’.

Dropbox synchronisation

Since you probably don’t want to keep all your notes solely on your phone, Epistle offers you the ability to synchronise your notes to your Dropbox! For those that don’t know, Dropbox is a piece of software that synchronises a folder between all your computers and mobile devices. This means that when you make a note on your phone, it will automatically be sent over the air to your computer (and vice versa). You need not use Dropbox if you don’t want to.

Setting up Dropbox with Epistle is hassle-free. Tap the Menu button and go into Preferences, then ‘Dropbox account Settings’. You have to enter your Username and Password, and then you will be sorted. You can specify the name of the folder that Epistle will use in your Dropbox too. Perhaps you would prefer to call the folder ‘Notes’ rather than the default ‘epistle’ like I did.

To sync with Dropbox after making some notes, press the button with the rotating arrows in the main menu to send and recieve edited notes.

There are two main advantages to using Dropbox alongside Epistle. Firstly, your notes can be read on your computer. This is useful for big notes that deserve a big screen so they can be viewed properly. As you can see in this screen capture, the notes in my Dropbox are the same ones used in the screen capture of Epistle further down this page, and are all stored as separate .txt files.

A note on the computer

A note on the computer

When using your computer, you can modify your notes using a full-scale keyboard. This means you can create new notes and refine your existing ones far quicker than you could if you were using your phone’s keyboard.

When on the move with your phone again, you need only remember to tap the sync button, and you have all your up-to-date notes quite literally in-hand.

Is it useful?

Absolutely. As a matter of fact I have taken it on as my own note-taker in lieu of just randomly scrawling things into Google Calender, Google Docs, or my Sticky-Note widget. These Google applications are now reserved solely for my scheduled work and appointments; Epistle is where I keep my random wish-lists and notes. The screen capture below shows some example notes I put in, which should also help to give you an idea of what a full screen of notes looks like.

A few notes in Epistle!

A few notes in Epistle!

I have also been using it as a way of helping in my studies. Since I always have my Netbook in lectures, I can make some notes in OpenOffice or Wordpad. If I then save these in .txt format and pop them into my Dropbox, I can scroll through them on my phone. This can be very useful if you are on the move as much as I am. Such a method could work just as well with your conference scrawlings or one-offs — like notes to help you pass your driving tests. Many people find staring at books and learning that way very arduous (I know I do!). By extracting or writing down key points, you need to read a book only once, and then refer back to the notes. Thanks to Epistle, you can do this wherever you like.

Epistle is far more than a simple note creator on your phone, and it is important to not think of it as merely Phone -> Computer. It works the other way too. If you need to memorize a speech on the move, then quickly convert it to .txt, pop it in your Dropbox and problem solved.

What it hasn’t got

Though I have raved quite a bit about the Dropbox sync, that is it for integration. There is no email feature, nor a ‘use in another application’ feature, which is quite disappointing really. Existing users of the application were also asking for Google Task integration in the Reviews section of Epistle’s market page. One can only hope these sorts of features will come in an upgrade sometime.

Price

Epistle is completely free! The developer’s website specifies it remains a Beta project, which probably explains that. I didn’t find any bugs whilst experimenting with it though, and it seems very refined. Go ahead and enjoy it whilst it remains free!

Conclusion

If you are looking for a quick note-taking application for your phone. You need look no further than Epistle. This application’s small size, fast interaction and simplistic interface make it perfect for such tasks. From me, Epistle gets a rating of 9/10! Though it is a very simplistic application, the Dropbox integration definitely earns it extra points. I can’t find any flaws or bugs in it either. The final mark is lost for not having other forms of external integration besides that of Dropbox. Otherwise it is a great little application and in my view earns such a rating easily.

Get it!

On your computer, Epistle’s market page can be found here.

Or use this handy QR Code to get it up on your phone!

QR Code for Epistle

QR Code for Epistle


Summary

A fast text editor application for your Android.

9
  • http://spine.ro Gabi Jguma

    Although i love Epistle for all the things that you mentioned, i found there is a problem that made me stop using it.

    The syncing feature with Dropbox is supposed to work both ways, and it doesn’t!
    For example, should you choose to edit a file form the Dropbox/Epistle folder on your computer, you’ll find that when trying to sync Epistle on your phone, it syncs to what you have on the phone, making you lose your computer edits.

    That’s a bummer!

    • http://samcater.com Sam Cater

      Your Android version?

      • http://spine.ro Gabi Jguma

        Android Froyo 2.2 on Samsung Galaxy S (I9000)

    • Compatibility winner: Apple

      Yes, for me too. My Android version is 4.1.2.

      Thing is there’s no way to contact support or request a feature – like SimpleNote support. Maybe because it’s a free app.

      It’s the best available note app on Android anyway!

  • http://samcater.com Sam Cater

    Strange :/ It is working for me fine. I just tried exactly that and nothing was lost.

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  • Abel Dean

    Gabi Jguma is right. I almost lost two months of valuable work notes and personal notes because I opened the documents in Epistle on my cell phone. I opened my personal notes document, saw that it was a two month old version, and then it promptly overwrote the version in DropBox. I almost had a heart attack. I booted up my laptop, opened up the document from the DropBox folder while it was still syncing, praised Jesus that it was the new version, saved a backup, and then DropBox synced and overwrote the new version with the old. For my work document, I thought ahead, and I booted up my work computer with the Ethernet cable unplugged, so I could grab the work notes document before DropBox syncs it. I could have lost a helluva lot of information, because Epistle is sh*tty software that overwrites new docs with the old. Do not take the chance. Do not install this app. If you have it installed, uninstall it immediately.

    • AK

      Hey, why so serious? Looks like you were burnt bad. But you cannot lose it that fast. Dropbox saves versions. Just head to the website.

  • AK

    Developer shut the app down and releases the same app with different name and made it paid. (Of course without much anticipated Simplenote support)

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