Over the years, we’ve heard from many people who love Paper but feel that they aren’t “artistic” enough to use the tools—a sentiment that suggests a compartmentalization of arts and science, visual and analytical thought. However, as a company, we believe removing barriers to creative thinking will enable millions to more freely express and share their ideas. It’s ideas, after all, that move the world forward.
Paper 3.0 launched a little over three weeks ago. Since then, well over one million people around the world have downloaded the new version of Paper, creating and presenting ideas in a wide range of fields such as design, fashion, hospitality, engineering, business, and architecture. For us, the new Paper represents a big and considered step towards building an inclusive space where people can develop and share their ideas, whether they start as sketches, notes, diagrams, or photos. Paper is the best place to capture and share your ideas—where you can bring the thoughts in your head to life in beautiful and powerful ways.
Since the launch, we’ve received a lot of feedback. Every App Store review, social media comment, and support ticket is routed directly into our internal messaging system on Slack for every employee to see. We take this feedback to heart and consider it carefully. Your thoughts help guide our design efforts. We are thankful for both praise and criticism as they are vital to our creative process.
In this post I want to address some of the questions that the FiftyThree community has raised about our recent release.
From Journals to Spaces
We’ve received many questions on why we changed Paper’s organizational metaphor from Journals to Spaces. One of the main factors here is that we wanted to bring Paper to more people and more devices beyond the standard iPad. Screen sizes range from 3.5 inches on iPhone to iPad Pro’s 12.9 inches. As much as we loved them, our journals did not scale. As we added text notes and photos that are critical to many creative idea flows, we knew we needed a more flexible page. We also wanted to accommodate landscape and portrait page orientations. Keeping a single book size did not work anymore. Our team wrote about the process and thinking here.
For some, the transition from Journals to Spaces on iPad was unexpected and abrupt. The change is something we could have communicated better, and we are looking into ways to tidy this up.
We’ve read requests to keep Paper “just like it was” or to make a new version. This is intuitively appealing. However, the rapid pace at which iPad and iOS change makes this much harder to do. For example, the iPad we first developed Paper on in 2012 is not even sold today. We underwent three major iOS releases since then that required rewrites of the user interface. Apple’s introduction of multi-tasking gestures, Notifications Center, and Control Center meant we could not use swipe from the edge gestures anymore. The upcoming iPad Pro (which will work beautifully with Paper) adds a new resolution and drastically changes the underlying touch input system. Maintaining software at scale is more expensive than developing it in the first place.
Since launch, we’ve published over 40 app updates, which averages out to an update every three weeks. It’s critical to make the right choices, and for us, that meant building a universal app that we could continue to support and improve for years to come.
Rewind, Replay, Rearrange
The blank canvas remains at the heart of Paper. Whether you’re doing a detailed sketch on iPad or taking a quick note on iPhone, all of Paper’s original tools remain—from the ink engine and default color palettes, to smart shapes and Pencil integration.
With the new Paper, we made some adjustments to how the canvas works including Zoom and Rewind, and for some, this has been disruptive. I want to clarify a few things, and share a bit of what we’re working on:
Rewind. First, we want to say that Rewind is still alive! To undo your work in the new Paper, you now have a few options.
You can use the former rewind experience by tapping once with two fingers and then rewinding anywhere on the screen. Now that it’s a more dedicated mode, it’s much more reliable. We’ve also added a new feature where you can grab the Rewind control and drag it to the point you wish to jump to.
Double tap with two fingers to produce a quick single rewind.
Tap on the forward and backward buttons on the top left of the tool tray to rewind your steps. You can also tap and hold these buttons to quickly zoom back and forward through the full history of your page.
Zoom. To use Zoom in Paper, make sure you are in the full-screen drawing view. To zoom in, use two fingers to pinch out. To pan around the screen, use two fingers to drag the canvas anywhere you want to see. Pinch in to exit Zoom.
There are some things we are looking to improve over the coming weeks:
We are looking at ways to add the ability to advance and add new pages from within the canvas.
Rearranging Spaces will be added back in a new version.
Replay currently is not in the product, but we want to make discovery and attribution better.
We feel strongly about collaboration and brought Mix directly into Paper. This was in response to feedback that Mix felt too much like a separate product. It is now “People You Follow,” a Space within the home view. It plays an integral role within Paper.
However, some of these changes made other aspects more difficult, so we are working on improving discovery and attribution mechanisms to make it easier for people to find creators and ideas. Part of the creative process is discovering fresh ideas and people to work with.
Over the next few months we will be issuing frequent updates to Paper. We want our existing and new users to feel at home.
We don’t consider our work done. Far from it. What we’ve learned over the years is that a new type of productivity, that is about creative thinking, is needed. With Paper we have an opportunity to bring a diverse set of thinkers and creators together, and make the most accessible tools for creative thinking. This means we will keep evolving Paper. Paper has never been about any particular navigation model, drawing, or any specific gesture, but about simple tools where ideas can be set free.
This post may not address every question, so if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. You can also reach me directly @georgpetschnigg on Twitter, and right in Paper paper.fiftythree.com/georg. Thanks to every one of you who've taken the time to help shape Paper.
Co-Founder and CEO