Publishing and List Assist in Latest Android Update

Howdy, note takers! We’re excited about the latest update to the Android app which includes some great new features:

Note Publishing

Got a note that you want to share easily with others? You can now use the new info panel to publish a note to the web. Just tap the i icon when viewing a note, then tap Publish. Within seconds you’ll be able to share a link to get the word out.

info-panel-publish

List Assist

Do you make a lot of lists in Simplenote? We sure do. That’s why we added List Assist, which makes it a lot easier to create lists by inserting bullets/numbering after you start creating a list. (Tip: Allowed characters are *, -, and +.) (The star, minus, and plus symbols.)

list-bullet-assist

What Else?

You’ll see that we added a note word count to the new info panel. You’re welcome! The update also includes some bug fixes, including a fix for searching on Android 4.0 devices.

Up next, we’re looking at adding a widget as well as Android Wear support. Stay tuned!

In other news, we were excited to see Simplenote on The Verge’s “Best Note-Taking Apps” list for both Android and iPhone. Hooray!

Recent iOS update

Recently we released an update to the iOS app. Unfortunately this update had a bug which caused users to be signed out of their accounts once they upgraded. In addition, if you had any changes that hadn’t been saved yet to our servers, those changes were likely lost. We’re very sorry about this and are working on a process to prevent this from happening again.

Because we haven’t had an issue with accounts since we introduced them in 2010, some users either don’t remember their original account or have a typo in their email address. If you’re having trouble signing back in to your account or don’t remember what email address you used, please email us at support@simplenote.com, and we’ll be happy to help.

Syncing improvements and neat features to discover

Since the beginning of February we’ve released new builds for OSX (1.0.6), iOS (4.0.5), and Android (1.1.2), improving syncing and fixing bugs on our apps. Now your notes will sync even more seamlessly than before, and with fewer performance issues.

With the improved apps released, what better time to explore some of their neat features? We know you love the simplicity of the note-taking experience, but each of the following three can enhance it even more:

  • Add an extra layer of security to your iOS app. Did you know that you can add a passcode to protect your notes? Go to the app’s settings, click on “Passcode,” and set your 4-digit PIN.
    iOS Passcode Setting
  • Track and restore earlier versions of notes. On the iOS and OSX apps, you can easily go through previous versions of your notes to track any changes you’ve introduced. You can also restore a note to an earlier version.
    • In iOS, click on the information button from any post, then choose “History.”
      iOS note info
    • In OSX, click on the three dots in the top-right corner of the app for more options, and select “History.”
      OSX note info

    In both cases, an easy-to-use slider will appear, letting you navigate through your note’s different versions.

  • Pin your most important notes to the top of the list. If you have a long list of notes, or when a time-sensitive task is approaching, highlight the notes that matter most by pinning them to the top — they’ll be impossible to ignore.
    • In iOS, pin a note by hitting the information button, then choose “Pin to Top,” and press “Done.”
    • In OSX, click on the three dots in the top-right corner of the app for more options, and choose “Pin to Top.”
    • In Android, while viewing the note, tap the circle in the upper right to pin.
      iOS note info

Stay tuned for more Simplenote news in the coming weeks!

What’s happened since the relaunch

In the few weeks since we relaunched Simplenote, usage has been skyrocketing. We’ve enjoyed some great press coverage across the web, along with strong user ratings and top 5 rankings.

A few problems remain, and we’re working hard to fix them. In particular, some people have reported unexplained note deletions, particularly from the Mac app. We’ve submitted possible fixes, and we’re preparing a solution that recovers these notes. This’ll be ready soon, and we’ll update this post when it’s ready.

Meanwhile, it’s taking a bit longer than we hoped to release the new Simplenote web app to everyone. We’re continuing to identify and fix some pesky layout issues with different browser versions.

Thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word about Simplenote. We’ll keep working to clean up these remaining issues, and then take a look at some of the top feature requests we’re seeing.

Update: A Simplenote Mac update is now live. Please update to this version. If you were affected by unexplained note deletions, and you’d like to access a backup of your account, you can sign in here and choose Download .zip from your account menu. All your notes (including those deleted in the past month) will start downloading as a .zip file. This is a manual process for now. We’re also working on a way to restore the affected notes automatically.

A new Simplenote for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

simplenote-featured-ios

Major new versions of Simplenote are now available for iOS 7, Mac, and Android.

All new design

When we first used iOS 7, we knew it would set new expectations for great apps — not just on iPhone and iPad, but across all platforms, including desktop and the web. We’ve redesigned Simplenote based on the principles we think are most important:

Focus on content. We wanted your thoughts and ideas to be front and center. The user interface has only what it needs, and otherwise stays out of your way.

Sense of place. Going from here to there inside an app should always leave you with a feeling of whereness. Where did I come from? Where am I going? Where did I end up? We paid careful attention to structure, placement, and animations to help maintain a sense of where you are at all times.

Harmony. The redesign is borderline stark, but there’s a lot going on to bring it all together: thoughtful typography, careful attention to spacing and grids, consistency where it matters, and a balance of subtlety and emphasis to help direct your attention.

Coming up next

In the coming weeks we’ll release minor updates and go into more detail about our design and development process. We hope you enjoy these new versions in the meantime.

Simplenote for Android

Our relaunch is now underway, starting with Simplenote for Android. You can download Simplenote on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. Our new version for Android has the same focus on speed and efficiency as the existing iOS app.

If you’ve previously used Simplenote, you can now use all your notes on your Android phone or tablet. If you’re a new user, you can create an account right within the app.

A little twist

We’re trying something a little different. You don’t need an account to use Simplenote for Android. You can download it for free and use it locally right away. When you’re ready to backup your notes online and sync with other devices, you can create an account at any time.

Coming up next

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll complete the relaunch of Simplenote by releasing Simplenote for Mac, a redesigned Simplenote for web, and a completely rebuilt Simplenote for iOS 7. We’re really excited about our new family of apps, and can’t wait to show you what else we’ve been working on.

For app developers

In addition to the app, we’ve released a Simperium library for Android. Simperium is a service for seamless syncing across devices. It powers all the storage and networking in Simplenote and is available for any other app developer to use as well.

The new Simperium library for Android is open source and makes it really easy to add Simplenote-style syncing to your Android apps. It’s a bit like iCloud but works across iOS, Android, and the web.

Simplenote relaunch

Earlier this year we announced some big changes were coming to Simplenote. Since then, we’ve been quietly working on new versions of the app together with server improvements that make it even faster and more reliable.

New versions

We’ve been beta testing new versions of Simplenote for Mac, Android, and iOS 7. They look a lot different: cleaner, simpler, and more lightweight. Our approach was to return to first principles and build anew.

A side effect is that some less frequently used features won’t be available, at least at first. Some people will cheer. Others, like those who adore sorting notes by reverse chronological creation date, may mourn. More details are coming soon.

Server improvements

Simplenote is now running on Automattic’s own servers with better tools to help identify and resolve problems. This lets our Systems team take care of Simplenote servers with the same resources available to sites on WordPress.com (like TechCrunch). Less downtime, better security.

Better syncing

Simplenote is powered by Simperium, a service for syncing data that we’ve been continuing to improve behind the scenes. Simplenote Mac and Simplenote iOS 7 take advantage of a major Simperium update to further improve the speed and reliability of your note syncing.

Meanwhile, a new Simperium library for Android will make its debut alongside Simplenote Android. For any developers in the crowd, this combo allows seamless, iCloud-style syncing across device types — from Core Data on iOS/OSX to sqlite on Android and back again with a minimum amount of fuss.

Changes to Simplenote Premium

Did you know about Simplenote Premium? Probably not. We’ve never focused on encouraging people to upgrade. We’re pausing premium upgrades for now while we figure out the best way to offer more features to power users. If you’re already a premium user, you’ll get a free extension in the meantime.

Timeline

This is happening in the coming weeks. We’re excited to start sharing more. Stay classy, stay simple.

Simplenote supercharged

Simplenote has a new home! Our company, Simperium, has been acquired by Automattic, makers of WordPress.com. We think this’ll be great for everyone, especially you, our beloved fans.

You know how sometimes, the services you love just disappear when they’re bought by someone else? Or they wither and die a slow and painful death? Not the case here. We made sure of that.

The founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, has been a long-time Simplenote fan. We first met him in 2010 before we joined Y Combinator, and we’ve kept in touch since. Fred and I will never forget the surprise Matt casually unleashed shortly after we decided to join forces. “Hey, by the way…we also bought simplenote.com from the people who were squatting it.” How’s that for a vote of confidence? We finally own simplenote.com!

In joining Automattic, we’re working with more resources and a growing, complementary team. Our plan is to supercharge Simplenote with a lot more attention in the months and years to come: native apps for more platforms, ongoing improvements, and more work on Simperium, our service for keeping your data in sync. Of course, Simplenote will stay simple. We know how important that is to you. It’s what kept it in the top apps of 2012, and it’s important to the team here as well.

Simplenote is in good hands. Our new family, now over 140 people strong and distributed around the world, lives and breathes all things internet. They get this stuff. We get this stuff. We build and use a wide variety of online tools every day to stay in sync with each other as a company.

If you get this stuff too, and you’d like to help make Simplenote more amazing from wherever you happen to be in the world (I’m writing this from a beach in the Cook Islands), work with us. We need more smart, friendly people who deeply appreciate simplicity and a mobile lifestyle.

Want more perspective on what all this means? Check out the Simperium blog. And if you have any questions or concerns, our fancy new WordPress-hosted site (which you’re presently reading) will happily accept them as comments below.

Mike (@mikejohnstn) and Fred (@fredrocious)

The Year Ahead

Twenty-twelve has been an exciting year: we’ve been focused on building a system called Simperium that not only increases the speed and reliability of Simplenote, but enables other applications to have the same effortless synchronization and online/offline capabilities.

The Nitty-Gritty

The legacy version of Simplenote’s API is hosted on Google App Engine. Many of the apps that sync with Simplenote, including some of our favorites like Notational Velocity and nvALT, still use this legacy API.

Our newer Simperium service uses Amazon Web Services (AWS), and is built to be much more resilient to failure. DashNote and ResophNotes are on this new API already. We know that many of you rely on Simplenote to run your lives, so even a few minutes of downtime is a major pain. We’re committed to dealing more gracefully with unexpected failures, bugs, limitations, and communicating better with you when there is a problem.

Holiday Bonus

We’ve given all premium subscribers two months free to thank you for being early adopters and sticking with us through some tough times in the last year. We’re also going to be working with all our developers to get their apps on the new API so we can officially deprecate our older, less scalable systems by the end of 2013.

Finally, we’re going to loop back on some of the most popular user requests, including an Android app, Mac app, and native support for Markdown while of course preserving the simplicity you’ve come to expect.

We hope that you, too, are using this holiday season to relax and recharge for a full 2013, and here’s to many more (simple) notes in our future together.

Service problems this week

First of all, we’re very sorry about the current issues and we’re working to fix them. All premium users will get time credited to their accounts.

Our primary syncing systems are hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Earlier this week, AWS experienced significant downtime that caused Simplenote syncing to fail. The AWS downtime also affected sites like Reddit, Airbnb, and Foursquare.

We have a separate system for syncing notes with third-party apps (like Notational Velocity) that is currently hosted on Google App Engine (GAE). About three weeks ago, we started experiencing significant latency when writing changes to this system, resulting in delayed syncing ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. Our efforts to fix this on our own weren’t successful, so we turned to the GAE team for advice.

They recommended we immediately migrate our third-party syncing to a newer version of their platform. On Wednesday night, we decided to do this. It went less smoothly than we hoped. We did not properly take into account some consequences of the migration, but we corrected this last night.

This morning, GAE is experiencing a global outage and we are waiting to hear more news on that front. Our official iOS apps and all third-party apps that have upgraded to our latest API (like ResophNotes and DashNote) should be working since they don’t rely on GAE. Our web app is still hosted on GAE, so it will be down until their service is restored.

We’re a small team working hard to get things stable again. We’ll work on a process to remove duplicate notes that have appeared in some users’ accounts. When the dust has settled, we’ll write a more detailed post-mortem about our plans for improvement and how we’ll better handle situations like this in the future.