April 16, 2013 • #

Drafts app for iOS

Through a number of recommendations around the web, I’ve started using Drafts, an iOS app with an interesting workflow model that’s helping me replace a number of input channels for capturing different pieces of information while on-the-go.

It’s positioned primarily as a text editor or note-taking app for iOS, but it introduces a fundamentally different approach to the capture → process flow than most other solutions I’ve tried, even ones that I like. Like most heavy mobile users, I have a suite of apps I use constantly to capture different inputs: OmniFocus for task management, Mail for email, Byword for notes and Markdown content, Fantastical for calendar items, and others. I love each of these apps for what they do, but speed is paramount for capture to be truly ubiquitous, at least for me. And I sometimes find myself swiping around looking for the right app to put something.

The way Drafts handles input is novel because it puts the content first, and the action second. You can jot something down, then decide how to process it. Sometimes it’s a to-do, sometimes a draft of an email, and sometimes just a quick note. I love the idea of starting with a bit of text, then picking the chute down which to send it in step two. Open the app and its ready for some text; no need to add titles to text files, create a new document, or any other hurdle, just start typing. It’s my new method for throwing things in the OmniFocus inbox1.

Depending on the exact wording of the quick note, it could end up as a to-do in my OF inbox:

  • Set up phone call with John → Add to OmniFocus

Then later become an appointment for the calendar:

  • Conference call with John 4/16 at 2pm → Parse in Fantastical2

One of my favorite features is the ability to write emails in Markdown. For quick replies I still use Mail (and most replies are quick from my iPhone, anyway), but for longer-form messages, I’ll open Drafts where I can include inline links and formatting using Markdown, then use the “Markdown: Email” feature to convert it and send as HTML email.

There are tons of actions supported for processing your input once you’ve entered it — Sending the text to email, Reminders, Messages, clipboard, printing, Dropbox — as well as the third-party app support. Things get really geeky once you dig into the customizable URL and Email actions.

This app is changing how I capture information from my iPhone, helping me strike a better balance between ubiquity of capture and the all-important correctness of processing. Highly recommended.

  1. If you’re an OF user and haven’t tried the Siri integration, check it out

  2. This app has fantastic natural language processing for adding new items. So fast.