In 2008, a software startup named Simperium released the first version of Simplenote (opens in new tab), an application to make note-taking (opens in new tab) easy for users. A year later, it released a premium version of the app that removed advertisements and added extra features such as syncing notes with the Dropbox storage app.
In 2013, Automattic, a well-known software company, purchased Simperium and its flagship Simplenote app. Automattic is best known as the developer of WordPress, the popular content management system (CMS) powering over 40% of all websites.
After buying Simplenote, Automattic released Android and Linux versions of the app and also suspended the premium version, making it free for everyone. In 2016, the company released the source code for the Simplenote client apps, making it open-source (opens in new tab) and very customizable.
Simplenote: Plans and pricing
The best thing about the Simlenote app is that it’s completely free. Most note-taking apps are freemium, requiring a payment to access advanced features. By contrast, anybody can access all the features of Simplenote immediately after they sign up.
Signing up on Simplenote is easy. To do this, head to the official website or download the app on your mobile device (iOS or Android) or personal computer (Windows, macOS, or Linux). All you need is a valid email (opens in new tab), which you’ll verify before getting an account.
You can access your Simplenote dashboard immediately after completing the sign-up process. You should notice that the dashboard is minimal and uncluttered. The first feature you should observe is creating notes. There’s a new note icon resembling a book and a pen. Click on it, and it’ll open a new note that you can type in.
The text editor on Simplenote is simple to a fault. It doesn't provide a GUI for formatting text but you can use Markdown syntax, similar to what is used on Wikipedia, to make your text bold, italic, etc. It's not the easiest on users, which we consider a disadvantage. On the bright side, this feature may be a plus for people who cherish simple things. With such a text editor, it’s very easy to focus on keeping notes and not get distracted.
There is also the ability to add checklists to every note and mark them when done. This feature makes it easy for users to create and manage to-do lists (opens in new tab).
One great feature we noticed on the app is the ability to publish notes. After typing any note, you can publish it online and get a link for it. Enter that link in a browser (opens in new tab), and you’ll see your note as a webpage. This feature allows users to access their notes anywhere or share them with other people. You don’t always have to log into the Simplenote app to check your notes when you can do that online.
Another noteworthy feature that Simplenote offers is collaboration (opens in new tab). You can invite other users (through their email) to view or edit your notes. There’s no limit on the number of people you can do this with.
Simplenote: Interface and use
Ease of use is one of Simplenote’s strengths. As we mentioned earlier, the app is simple to a fault. Its interface feels similar to a hardcopy notebook, minimal and uncluttered, but with unlimited space. Any digital layman should be able to navigate the app without difficulties.
If you encounter any challenges with Simplenote, there’s a dedicated support email you can contact and wait for a response from the company’s staff. Remember that it’s a free app, so support isn’t guaranteed but is more of a favor to customers.
There’s also an official help page on the Simplenote website. This page contains user guides and answers to frequently asked questions about the app. It should be the first place to consult when you need help before opting for email support if you don’t find satisfactory answers there.
Simplenote: The competition
Simplenote’s main competitors include Notion, Evernote (opens in new tab), and Ulysses. Simplenote’s main advantage over these competitors is that it’s free to use. But, it lacks the kind of advanced features that you’ll find in these competitors, e.g., lack of a text editor and grammar checking.
Simplenote: Final verdict
We consider Simplenote a very good note-taking app. It’s free to use, so you don’t have to worry about any payment. It also has one of the most user-friendly interfaces you can find in a note-taking app. The main drawback is that it lacks many advanced features that you’ll often find in competing apps.