Noto's second alpha: You are all invited! 🤟

Notes are safer under your Google account and Topics are easier to use and understand

Today marks exactly 100 days since I started working on Noto, a long time for a solo project. I can only stay motivated thanks to this small, but growing group of subscribers and followers. Thank you for being there! 🙇‍♂️

Your support has been more important than ever in the last weeks: As detailed in the post about safeguarding your notes, I am now in a phase of polishing and stabilization, a lot less exciting and less gratifying than working on new features.

Although this stage is still not over, I’ve made enough progress that I’m confident in marking this milestone as “alpha 2”, which I’ll be making accessible for everyone through the following links!

Join iOS alpha testing

Join Android alpha testing

This time I limited the test to the first 40 testers in each platform (should be enough for everyone!) Get in touch if you have any trouble joining the test and I will help you 😊

What’s new?

Google Sign-in

Notes safety is one of the top blockers that early testers raise before they can commit to Noto as their main note-taking app: “What if something happens to my phone?” or “What if you simply stop working on Noto?”

While I still don’t have a solution for the second question (for now!), this update solves the first one: You can now sign-in with Google and your notes will not be lost if you change phones or uninstall the app for any reason.

On top of that, you can install Noto on multiple devices and your notes will be kept in perfect sync. I’m already finding this extremely useful: I love to keep my recipes visible on the iPad while I cook!

In case you’re wondering: Noto keeps a backup of your notes in the cloud (Google’s cloud, concretely.)

Highlighted Topics

Topics is one of the most innovative features in the current Noto and, while surprisingly powerful, it is a hard UX challenge: It breaks your mental models of how note-taking apps work and it’s not easy to teach through intuition!

The “title” of a topic is in reality a smart keyword that automatically classifies all notes containing it.

Most testers couldn’t understand intuitively that the “title” of a topic is in reality a smart keyword that automatically classifies all notes containing it. This caused cascading usability problems that led to frustration and not being able to use the app as they wanted.

It’s not the silver bullet that will solve the problem for everyone, but highlighting the keywords when they appear in a note goes a long way in making this mechanic understandable intuitively.

On top of improving understandability, it adds a new way to navigate between topics: You can simply click on a keyword to open the topic fullscreen.

Minor design improvements

In parallel, I keep refining and polishing the design of the app. Those of you with a trained eye might notice small improvements in typography, color palette, spacing, and consistency:

What’s next?

This is a summary of my plans:

  1. A couple more weeks for polish, bugfixing and overall robustness of the app (both external and internal)

  2. Linked notes, basic version

  3. Agenda view, basic version

Once I have all these elements in place, I will start focusing on expanding the tester base in preparation for the 1.0 release!

In the meantime, thanks again for being there and keep the feedback coming!